I’m Not a Bad Mom {Learning to Ignore Dirty Glances from Non-Parents}

I don’t venture out into public places like grocery stores or restaurants with the toddler much when my husband isn’t around, but sometimes it is inevitable. My deepest fear has always been that I will be out on an adventure with my kid sans husband and the kid decides that he is going to misbehave in the worst possible manner and I won’t know what to do. Well, friends… Last Saturday was that day. It happened. And the worst thing about it was what, you ask? The awful, rude stares I received when my kid was having a meltdown.

Let me set the scene for you, shall I? I wanted to cook dinner, and I needed mucho supplies from the grocery store. Husband was not home, and I wanted to zip quickly to the store, grab what I needed, and zip home. I had an inclination that something awry was going to happen when I attempted to put my 2 year old in his car seat and he immediately started bucking like he was mutton-bustin at the rodeo or something. Call it a mother’s intuition, but I knew that the quick grocery store trip that I had so carelessly imagined was NOT going to end up how I expected, but yet I ventured out anyway. When we got to the store, he insisted that he must be the one to buckle the germ-ridden shopping-cart seat belt and kept pushing my hands away anytime I tried to intervene – yet another sign that a sure-fire meltdown was about to happen. What felt like four hours later, seat-belt fastened, we went down the first aisle to grab an item off of the shopping list. We made it through the first four aisles or so in this successful manner, and I was actually feeling pretty good about myself being able to take the toddler to the store without anything crazy happening. I was even scolding myself, saying things like “See Michelle? This isn’t so bad! You don’t need your husband to come along! You are AWESOME!” {I may have just added that awesome part as I was typing, but you get what I mean…} when all of a sudden the kid spotted something that he just had to have. I can’t even tell you what it was that he wanted {I think a measuring cup of some sort?} when HE. JUST. LOST. IT. How dare I as his mother just ignore his request to hold the item and continue on with my shopping excursion while ignoring his simple request? He screamed. He attempted to grab items off of the shelves, tried to spin around in his seat and throw out all of our items in the cart, just acting the oppsoite of what my kid acts like! I was mortified. I turned around to get the original item he wanted just to pacify him, but it was too late. I was in Melt-Down City, and he was the mayor!

What happened next is what embarrassed and hurt me the most. A young woman {maybe in her 20s or early 30s} spun her head around and gave me the dirtiest look you could possibly ever imagine. I was already walking in her direction, and I am not kidding you, she STARED at me in this manner the entire way down the aisle and as I passed her. I felt so hurt by this person, and I didn’t even know her! I was so embarrassed and just didn’t know what else to do to make my kid calm down. I looked at her once again just to confirm that she really was staring at me in such a hateful manner, which she was. I felt defeated. I felt ashamed. I felt like the world’s worst mom.

I grabbed the last thing on my list and hauled myself as fast as I could to the self check-out line. As soon as I began to check out, my son became quiet. He was back to his normal self, and I immediately felt the redness of my face lighten up. With each item I scanned, I lost the embarrassed feeling I initially felt and became increasingly more angry. How dare this woman who probably doesn’t even have kids {and if she does- shame on her! She should know better!} give me a look like that? She didn’t know me! I huffily grabbed my bags and my kid and quickly scanned the store to give her a dirty look right back. Thankfully, I didn’t see her, but my brain was overloaded with things that I wish I could have said to her when she looked at me so awfully.

As I got in the car and looked back at my kid sitting so magically in his car seat with the toothiest of smiles, I thought of the woman in the store. I immediately felt sorry for her. What an awful life she must lead if she resorts to mean-mugging a mother in a grocery store with a child having a temper tantrum. Even before I had kids, when I would see a child acting in such a manner in a public place, I always would sympathize with the parent and offer a kind smile because I knew that my day would be coming. I’ve heard horror stories of how non-parents act around kids who misbehave, but I guess I was just hoping that was an urban myth or something. As I unbuckled my son from his car seat when we got home, I hugged him closely to me. I whispered to him that I loved him and I told myself that no stranger would ever make me feel like a bad mom ever again. Toddlers are toddlers – unpredictable and sometimes unpacifiable. And as I type out this last sentence, we are adventuring out again to the grocery store, just little one and me. I don’t know what will happen once we get there, but I will not be afraid of judgey and those mean women who have nothing better to do than stare at moms when their kid has a toddler meltdown.


  1. The same thing happened to me. I was at a Denny’s for breakfast on a Sunday with my 2 year old son and my 6 year old daughter. Husband was out of town, and I braved taking the kids out to eat by myself. My husband actually called me while we were there to check in, and while I was on the phone, my daughter decided to stretch backwards, and her hands went over the back of her seat, and she got in the space of the people behind her. She didn’t touch them, but she was in their space. They weren’t there when we sat down originally, so my daughter didn’t realize that the booth wasn’t empty. The lady AND HER TEENAGE DAUGHTER sitting behind my daughter BOTH turned around. They BOTH gave me the worst go-to-hell face I have ever seen. I almost cried. And she is a parent! My daughter apologized, and the mother just rolled her eyes and turned back around.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here