Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blue Sock in Aisle 9

can any of you mothers out there relate to this?

last summer, when jonathan was a few months old, i was out running errands with him and trying to get to the bank before it closed. it was a hot day, and i had put him in the sling so my hands would be free, but realized as i got him out that i had left his hat at home. those of you who hang out with me at parks know that i am a bit of a hat-nazi (i get it from my mother), and the children are very rarely outside our front door without a hat of some kind on their head, rain, snow, sleet, or dead of night. however, on this day in my rush, i had left the hat at home, and so i shielded the baby's eyes from the bright sun with my hand as i walked in.

on the way out, i am crossing the parking lot to the car when an older woman in a large SUV slows down and rolls down the window. thinking that she is stopping to make a comment about my Adorable Baby, i slow down and smile at her. however, instead of saying something along the lines of "what a beautiful child you have, you must be so lucky", she yells out her window "Put a hat on that baby!" and drives away. i am so flabbergasted i can barely move.

now, this is not an indictment on anyone who thinks that babies should have hats on, because i do too. really what got me was this stranger's audacity to throw that comment at me and run--a comment that i can only assume was meant to shame me into changing my behavior. and the irony of it all was that if she knew me even a *little* bit, she would know that the comment was unnecessary. since when is rudeness and shame an acceptable way to relate to anyone, let alone a stranger, a new mom, someone who could maybe just use a break now and then? i mean, obviously it worked, because months later i still remember it, but really, at what cost to human decency?

now, flash to the other day, at the supermarket with the kids. we are all in the checkout line after managing to get everything on the list (i think), when i looked down to realize that jonathan had taken his sock off. Again. this child is obsessed with his sock. i quickly scan the 3 aisles i can see from where i'm standing--no sock. i am unwilling to leave the line to go look for it...the older children are already riding the horse in the waiting area and the baby's on his last hunger pang before letting the world know how i starve him to death--a 3 time hand-me-down sock is not worth the trouble. so, i take off the other one to avoid losing it too and try to finish up as quickly as possible.

but, i can't help thinking on the way out...what if someone sees the baby's naked toes, will they think i am a terrible, neglectful mother? is there another woman lurking around the corner, ready to send a zinger of shame my way?

so, maybe all this to say, wouldn't it be nice if we could cut each other a little slack now and then (and maybe even ourselves)? i mean, if we as mothers can't support one another in this all-consuming endeavor, pray tell me, who can?

and, if you happen to see a sock in aisle 9, it's probably mine.


Anonymous said...

Incredible how rudeness can effect us for so long - sad, but true. :(
I even told someone this story - can't remember why - recently, saying how you ALWAYS have a hat on the boys' heads and this one time you don't, this happens!!! You are a wonderful momma - don't let some stanger invade your thoughts with untrue stuff!
your (I get it from my mother)- and you do :)Mom

joysnatcher said...

Umm, it could also be my sock. I believe I have had two people tell me to put a hat on my baby's head. One in winter, one in summer. What if you have tried and tried, but your baby refuses to be "hatt-ed"?

Wherever the fault lies, what gives people permission to tell mothers what to do with their kids? It's not socially acceptable to do that with people in other stations of life. And why do I feel like it would be rude to respond in an honest way? Like: "Mind your own business!"

be_a_Mary said...

SERIOUSLY. goodness, now that i am a mother, when i am in the grocery store and the 2 year old is having a tantrum, i feel so SORRY for the mom because that has been me. And it is mortifying, and we are just doing our best, but our best is certainly never perfect. My dad just sent me an email last week telling me to 'major in the majors' and not get hung up on the small stuff (like beating myself up over a bad dinner).

You know, i just have to think that those people who say such things have a). never been mothers or b). grew up with an extremely critical mother of their own or c). have an abusive, critical husband. cause i just don't GET how you can give advice to a stranger about her baby.

6 days ago, a neighbor down the street, whom i've NEVER spoken to, darted down the lane and across the street to tell me (we were playing in the front yard) that i should NOT put my kids in public school, EVER. ??? and i should value your opinion because why???

Anonymous said...

Funny story...especially because I always see you as a role model for the “perfect mom”, I’ve never thought you could be questioning your skills...seems like a stranger’s comment can do that. You had never mention to me the craziness of “hat on all the time” but some how I took it from you, probably from the few times I saw your children (always with hat on...hahaha), and now I do that with my son. Of course every time we are in the park, and he is the only one wearing a hat… I think: I’m glad you affected my life in so many ways and so well! Gisela.