It had been a really exhausting day, and it was only 3pm. The doctor for my son’s surgery had been running almost an hour behind, so we’d been out much longer than we’d planned.
My hungry boy wanted pizza, and Earth Fare was the only fast place I could think of.
As we pulled into the nearly empty parking lot, I almost sighed with relief. Hopefully, we’d get in and get out and bother as few people as possible, if the lack of cars indicated anything.
Of course I had to take my five year old to the bathroom first, while my eleven year old waited for someone at the deli counter.
When I finally returned with my five year old, I quickly ordered our things. This is never as quickly as it could be, because we have to get gluten free items, so I double check to ensure things are truly gluten free.
All the while, two hungry, tired and impatient boys are waiting.
When I sat down, I saw you out of the corner of my eye. I felt your stare-down, even before my five year old made a noise.
I could see you were busy with work, and I could tell you’d been there a while.
You had no way of knowing when we came in that we’d been in a surgery center for nearly four hours.
You had no way of knowing that my eleven year old son had a foot surgery and was still a bit out of it from the drugs.
You had no way of knowing he hadn’t eaten since 10pm the night before so he was more than a tad grumpy.
You had no way of knowing that he’d endured his little brother bothering him before and after the surgery, and he was at his limit of patience with him.
You had no way of knowing that my five year old son probably has ADHD and other issues that cause him to act strangely on a regular basis.
You had no way of knowing that he’d been trying his very best to be good, still and quiet at the surgery center, and he was completely worn out from it.
You had no way of knowing that, in his complete boredom waiting in the surgery center, he’d downed 3 cups of Sprite, which contains high fructose corn syrup, which turns him into a different person.
You had no way of knowing that I was stressed beyond my limit, thinking about finances, just wanting to go home to rest, worrying about my son’s behavior and what on earth we were going to do about it.
You knew none of this.
You just saw a lazy mom who spoke quietly to her children, maybe looked a little annoyed, but let her five year old scream at the top of his lungs.
You just saw a little brat who stared into space, crawled all over the floor and made screaming noises through chewing on his food.
You just saw a big brother who kept yelling at his little brother to shut up because he had a headache.
You were so annoyed that when you were on a call, you said, “Yeah, sorry, there’s a B— here next to me who won’t make her brats shut up.”
I’m sure you didn’t notice the tear in my eye as I turned away and stubbornly decided not to try to make my kids shut up.
I don’t know you. I don’t know anything about you.
I had myself up in arms, ready to defend my kids and myself, and ready to judge you – You were there a long time, so why didn’t you just leave? Or just ignore us?
But, no. That isn’t fair. No more fair than you judging us.
I am sorry.
I’m sorry that my son bothered your work. If you knew how much I wish this wasn’t a daily struggle…
I’m sorry that we stayed. We should have packed up our food and gotten back into the car.
I’m just sorry.
But I really wish there was less judgement. I wish people didn’t automatically assume that a child gets no discipline just because he acts up in public.
I wish people didn’t think that they know everything about a situation within a few minutes.
I wish people were kinder, more compassionate and more understanding.
I wish we could get a “Hey, mama, it’s okay. Everyone has one of those days.” rather than a death stare.
I don’t know. I just wish things were a bit different, I guess.
I realize I’m asking too much of you. But maybe next time, when you see a child acting up, you can be nice to the mom, instead of cruel?
Just a thought.
By the way, as hard as it is, I’ve been praying for you. It’s getting easier.
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