Twice last week while at the grocery store with my children, a stranger who had less items to buy approached me to ask if she could cut in front of me in line. Both times I said, “Sure, go ahead.” The first time didn’t bother me and even the second time I wasn’t too phased – but that time, I only had about 8 items in my cart, not a whole week’s worth of groceries. And what was more perplexing is that the woman said, “Thanks, I’m in a big hurry” and then proceeded to slowly count out her exact change to the cashier. Not to mention, right before her request, my son started crying and I picked him up. When it was my turn to check out, the cashier said she was appalled at the woman’s behavior. She said she can’t understand when people ask someone with children to cut in front of them. And she pointed out that I had a fussy baby in my arms, which made it even more rude.
Not gonna lie, a few minutes into the customer’s coin-counting antics, I did think to myself, “No problem, lady – you go first and take your sweet time while I hold my son and do everything one-handed!” I was glad the cashier seemed equally, if not more, annoyed.
I can’t say I was surprised these two customers asked such favors of me, as I’ve noticed a pattern these past few years of post-baby grocery shopping. I’m finding I’m the regular recipient of not-so-nice glares from kidless customers. It’s already a challenge to please two children while I mentally note what I still need and what aisle it’s in. And then to deal with rude strangers on top of it? Not fun.
One time maybe 6 months ago, I had the baby in the Ergo and my toddler in the cart at a grocery store I frequent often. I remember both of my little ones were having an off day. I reached down to grab a 6-pack of soda and one slipped out and fell onto the floor, exploding all over me and a tiny bit went onto another shopper’s ankle. The look of disgust and horror (instead of sympathy) on the woman’s face made me cringe. I mean, it was clearly an accident, and my hands were full. Of course I didn’t expect the woman to help clean it up or anything but I just felt she could have acted a little bit nicer. She would not even look at me so that I could apologize – she turned around and left the aisle as quickly as she could. I leaned down to grab the can to stop it from spraying and then tried to clean it while keeping one hand on my baby who was practically upside down in the carrier. I told a store employee about the mess so no one slipped and fell and he didn’t seem too thrilled either. It made an already challenging morning feel even harder with all the small obstacles adding up.
I hate that a trip to the store feels like I’m a burden to others, when in reality, I’m just doing what everyone else is there to do: buy food to feed my family. I just happen to have my children in tow. Sorry, they’re not old enough to be in school and I’m not going to get a sitter every time I need to run an errand. I’m not sure what to think…are people just rushed? Self-centered? Simply focused on their own agendas? Are their kids grown and they’ve forgotten what it’s like?
Whatever the reason, it has made me more mindful since becoming a mother to hold doors for parents with strollers and pick up the item a toddler throws from a shopping cart for the baby-wearing mother. Sadly, I know I wasn’t perfect at going out of my way to help out before I had kids. But, as this blogger so eloquently put it, it’s actually worse when the parent of grown children behaves in this way. I couldn’t agree more. The entire blog post is perfection, but here’s that excerpt:
Fine. Ignorant non-parents, who don’t know what they’re talking about, imposing ridiculous standards on actual parents because it makes them feel superior. I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. As bad as you people are, you’re not nearly as horrible as the second type: actual parents with grown children who judge other parents, as if they haven’t been in the exact same situation many times. I had an older guy complain to me recently about babies that cry during church. He said: “Back when our children were babies, you didn’t have this problem.” Interesting. Apparently babies didn’t cry in the 50’s. The whole “crying baby” thing is a new fad, it would seem. These folks who had kids a long time ago seem to have a rather selective memory when it comes to their own days of parenting young kids.
Read more at http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/09/15/dear-parents-you-need-to-control-your-kids-sincerely-non-parents/#jzUzVWSzQ0sML0Mx.99
Non-parent, parent with grown children, parent with children present, it doesn’t matter. We are all doing what we can. Please, please know that I am not trying to bother you or ruin your shopping experience by just ‘being.’ I’m just trying to get through my list too. I would appreciate your patience at times and please excuse me if I move a little slow through the aisles. And if we make eye contact, you could actually smile back at me. That may be the bright spot of my morning.