Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend. Kate and I went to the Farmer’s Market and to Tar.get. Then we had lunch at Chip.olte and I needed to make an additional trip to the Container Store to find a hamper as I didn’t find one I liked in Tar.get. As we were dragging the hamper back to my car, I sensed she was starting to fade. As she slept later that morning, I was hoping I could push her nap out a little bit, but now I was getting close to the danger zone. I really wanted to hit the sales at Old Navy and the G.ap and I had hoped that her lunch would fuel her for a while, but I could tell we would need reinforcement. So I bribed her to do a little more shopping with the promise of a frosted cookie. Ideally, I would have offered the cookie after she had exhibited good behavior at the stores, but logistically we passed the bakery before the stores. We had to queue for over half an hour, because yes you have to stand in line behind people ordering sandwiches, even if you just want baked goods.
We finally emerged from the bakery, cookie in hand, and I tried to steer her into G.ap, hoping that with busy holiday shoppers, employees wouldn’t notice a little girl eating a cookie in their store. Kate insisted that we eat outside. It was a beautiful day, the first warm day in quite a while, so I decided to follow her lead and take the time to slow down and just enjoy some time with my daughter. Kate was trying to eat her cookie as carefully as possible, but the icing was melting quickly and was getting all over her face. I was waiting until she was finished before wiping her face and hands. Just then, a couple in their mid 60s came walking toward us. The guy was wearing an Old.Navy shirt celebrating the turn of the century in 2000. As he passes us, he commented “Can’t get enough candy” in a gruff tone. He never made eye contact or smiled in my direction, so I’m pretty sure it was a remark to his wife and not to me.
I really wanted to react. I wanted to explain that the cookie was a special treat. That I don’t buy cookies, candies or any sweets to have at home. Yesterday at a friend’s birthday party, I was the mean mom who didn’t let her keep the candy she collected from the piñata. I no longer give her peanut butter crackers and she just licks the peanut butter and discards the crackers. Recently, she grabbed her snack bag and opted to eat her fruit first over her rice crackers and granola bar. She takes swimming lessons, gymnastics and soccer classes, oh and by the way she was doing burpees with me at the gym this morning.
But I didn’t say anything. When I recounted the story to a friend the next day, I explained that there were a lot of people with smart phones and I feared they could start recording and then next thing you know, I’d be showing up in your Face.book feed “Angry Mom goes off on stranger over cookie” as we’d go viral. That was my outward explanation. The truth is that I didn’t have the nerve, because he hit a nerve. Seriously, did he have any idea how much Mom Guilt went into the decision to buy the cookie? “What message am I sending by bribing her with food?” “She’s not a dog, I shouldn’t use food as a reward” Does he think I’m not aware of her size and weight? Which by the way is a concern between me and her pediatrician. Am I not mortified by the fact that I’m needing to buy 4T pants for my not-yet three year old daughter and they look ridiculous as they’re bunched at the ankles and she still has a plumbers crack!
Just as I did with the gymnastics mom, I quickly moved into he phase of discrediting the source. He was wearing a shirt from the turn of the century. Seriously, his shirt is almost old enough to vote now. Plus, he had a gut that shows that apparently he can’t get enough candy either. Fuck you. Yet, I couldn’t quite move on passed the ‘why am I letting this bother me so much?’ phase. Then it dawned on me, it’s a new day of equal opportunity shaming. Usually mom shamers are other moms who think they have everything figured out or idealistic women without children who are imaging their own reality. Now apparently, elderly white dudes can get in the game. The gender disparity really stings, as comedian Ali Wong points out “there is so little that a man needs to do to be hailed as a great dad, and so little for a woman to do to be branded as a shit mother.”
Please note, I’m not trying to come across as the Thought Police. Think what ever you want; just keep it to yourself or at least wait until I’m out of earshot. I confess I’ve held some shaming thoughts about my cousins’ parenting. I don’t think she’s a bad parent. I know she loves her kids and wants to do what is best, but has made some bad decisions. I just don’t share thought thoughts with her; I wait until we get home and then discuss my observations with Husband. An open mind does not require an open mouth. Especially since that’s the real response to the shamers. Guess what? You can save your breath. There is nothing you can say to a mother that is harsher, meaner or more critical than anything she has already said about herself. Probably in the last five minutes. Now shut the fuck up.
My day was further aggravated by the fact that I couldn’t find my parking ticket and had to pay the $25 lost ticket fee (when I had qualified for free parking). When I arrived at home, I easily found the ticket in my purse. #momfail
I finished writing this post and hit some button that accidentally erased it and I had to compose it again. #momfailagain.