It was nearly 9:00 p.m. as I made a fast dash into a shoe store after taking a class at the gym. I decided to take full advantage of being without my kids and figured I could run this one errand in a fraction of the time that it would take me if I was with them.
As I entered the store, I saw another customer. She was a tall woman with perfect highlights, a designer bag and she was pushing a Peg Perego double stroller. She had twin boys in the stroller as she attempted to leisurely shop. I noticed her immediately because while one of the babies was sitting quietly, the other one sounded frantic with a piercing scream. I tried not to look her way. I wanted to offer a sympathetic smile but I know how it feels to be in a public place with a screaming baby. It has always made me feel very self-conscious as if every person within a five mile radius is staring at me. I did not want to make her feel worse than she probably already did.
I passed the trio as I walked to the customer service line. My sympathy for her began to fade as I heard her in a scolding voice say to the crying child, “I know what you want. You want to be held and that is not going to happen.” I wanted to offer to hold the baby. Poor little thing. With every second that I waited in line, I grew angrier with this woman. The baby continued his piercing cry as she pushed the stroller down the aisles of shoes. I began to wonder what kind of a mom, number one, has her babies out at 9 at night and, number two, decides that shopping for shoes is more important than holding a baby that needs or wants comforting? My return transaction went quickly and soon I was walking out the door towards my car. That’s when I realized how unfairly I might have been judging this stranger.
As an outsider looking in, I saw a woman who appeared to be putting herself first, almost neglecting the wants of her child, and actually scolding him for interrupting her shopping. I jumped to these quick conclusions without even considering what other factors might have been involved. Maybe she had a challenging day with her kids. Perhaps she needed a break and had no one to watch them.