Sitting at the table I'm trying to eat my lunch as quickly as possible. I'm all too aware that my daughter is overtired and wants nothing more than to have cuddles and go to sleep. My mother has taken her to try and settle her so I can eat my lunch instead of eating cold remnants of something that used to be lunch, like I usually do after tending to the baby. While I'm grateful that I get to eat, I still can't shake the guilt that's slowly bubbling up inside. Each mouthful of food is accompanied by the distressed whimpering of my daughter and the taste of guilt. I'm all too aware that we're in a public place and I hate being the centre of attention. My heart is racing, I can't concentrate and I'm stressed to the max. I just want to comfort my daughter and get out of the situation...
My mother was doing her best, but sometimes an overtired 15 month old just can't calm down no matter how many tricks you have up your sleeve. She tried rocking her, cuddling her and playing videos for her on my phone. Thomas the tank engine provided a few minutes distraction, it even got a few smiles and laughs out of her, but then she remembered she was tired and was once again inconsolable. Seeing how stressed out I was getting, mum took her outside to the play area to distract her so I could finish eating.
So I sat at the table finishing my meal as fast as I could. Sitting in silence trying so hard not to cry. Feeling like a bad mum and so incredibly guilty for eating while my child was upset. The restaurant was pretty much empty, but I was certain the few people who were there were definitely judging me. I could feel their eyes on me, like little red laser beams pointing directly under the big sign sitting on my forehead, incessantly flashing BAD MUM over and over. I wanted to crawl under the table and hide, but I didn't. I ate my food and packed up my things as fast as I could, eager to get outside to my daughter, all the while trying to convince myself that it was all in my head.
Then it happened. As I walked past the only occupied table, I heard it. The judgement. Those snarky remarks that I knew were being whispered behind my back were now clear as day. "My child would never scream like that", "Id never let my child cry like that". Way to go table full of strangers, congratulations on being the worlds best parents. Congratulations on having children who never cry in public (*cough* yea right). Most of all congratulations on being able to make an already distressed and upset mum feel even more shit. I'm my own worst critic at the best of times, but to hear a bunch of strangers judging me so harshly was just the icing on top of a very shit cake. If I wasn't so concerned with getting to my daughter I probably would've burst into tears right beside their table. But I didn't, thankgod.
This is what I don't understand, why are people so eager to put shit on each other? Especially other parents. Parenting is hard work and is made so much harder when other parents are so quick to judge each other and jump to conclusions. How about showing a little empathy? I'm sure we've all been there before. What about an empathetic smile that says I know how you feel right now, instead of eye rolling and gawking. Maybe even go a step further and actually offer assistance or at least some sympathy. That way instead of making someone's bad day worse you might actually turn it around. Next time before you judge someone stop and think about the words that are about to come out of your mouth and remember your actions and words have the ability to change the course of that person's day. A quick "don't worry it happens to the best of us" isn't going to change the world, but it can make someone feel a little bit better about themselves and that's still a great thing.