Dear Judgey McJudgerson,
I’m the parent of the child at the grocery store that was having a melt down in the middle of the afternoon.
Because my child’s wailing, shrieking, sobs and tears weren’t enough for me to be dealing with, you had to add your ‘helpful’ comments. “Take that kid home!” “He’s too old to be throwing fits!” “What’s wrong with you?” “Nice parenting!” “What a brat!”
Your comments made my difficult time so much worse. You didn’t stick around after hissing your nasty comments at me. You stuck your nose in the air, satisfied in telling me how lousy a parent I was, turned your back and marched away, off, no doubt, to find someone else to spew your self important judgements on.
Let me tell you something:
I’m a single parent.
My husband is away on business.
My husband is deployed.
My husband is in the hospital.
My husband is away at his dying grandfather’s bedside.
I’ve just finished work, and on my way to my second job.
My child has special needs.
I’m out of groceries, I’m waiting for a prescription for my sick child. I can’t come back later, because I can’t wait for what we need. I can’t leave my child, because there’s nobody to leave him with.
You didn’t stick around. You didn’t see my shoulders slump under the weight of your words. You didn’t see the tears in my eyes. You didn’t see the pain you caused. If you had, I doubt you’d have cared, you were too busy being better than I, and righteous in your indignation.
You didn’t know that after I managed to get my child home, when I was finally laying down in the privacy and darkness of my room, your words echoed in my ears, and how I sobbed, hearing them, again and again.
I wonder, if you did know, would you care? Would you?
Maybe this letter will help you to have more compassion for parents in my situation. Perhaps the next time you’re in the grocery store, you can offer that Mom or Dad a smile. A pat on the shoulder. An offer to help. “It’s OK. You’ll be OK, Mom.”
Or even just silence.
Any Parent of the Child in a Meltdown