choose kindness | an open letter to the woman who told me I shouldn't be a mom | cleveland mom blog

 

Dear Random Woman at Wendy’s,

And yes, that’s who you are – a random woman.

I don’t know you. You don’t know me, my husband, or my kids.

You’re not a friend, acquaintance, or even a Facebook friend. I’ve never seen you before in my life. But, on a Tuesday evening at a Wendy’s in Rocky River – for some reason I still don’t really understand – you thought that you had the right to tell my husband and I that we shouldn’t be parents.

“If you can’t speak nicely to your children, you shouldn’t have any” – is what you said to us as we were trying to enjoy a meal with our children. You don’t know us, yet you still felt the need to tell us we shouldn’t be parents. You don’t know that as a mom, I constantly question my every parenting choice and that this comment you made felt like a punch straight to my gut. You don’t know that as a maternity and newborn photographer, my job involves talking with new moms on a daily basis. That I hear their concerns about being a new mom. I hear their joys, their worries, and their fears.

Those moms are the reason I write you this letter.

So, that if anything awful like this ever happens to them (and I hope with all my heart that it doesn’t!), they will know that they are not alone. That they shouldn’t let anyone else EVER judge their parenting skills.

You don’t know what happened in our day that caused us to “not speak nicely” to our children.

You have no idea how “nice” we are to our kids on a daily basis – that we spent our entire day, that Tuesday, doing nice things for them. You don’t know that we put off our housework, our yardwork, my photography work, and all other adult responsibilities to take my 4 year old to see his first movie in a theater. We saw Finding Dory, just in case you are curious. You weren’t there when my husband and I watched him bound up the stairs to the theater, unable to hold back his excitement, looking everywhere, just taking it all in. You weren’t there when we saw his eyes light up at his first sight of the big screen. You didn’t see how we smiled at each other when we heard him say “mmmmm” as he took his first taste of movie theater popcorn. You didn’t see me click away on my camera, being sure to document this happy day. You didn’t get to feel the joy we felt holding his hands as we walked back to the car and he talked about how this was the “best day ever!”.  You have no idea that after we picked up his baby brother from his Grandma’s house – we surprised them by telling them we were taking them out to dinner. That we discussed multiple different options on where we should eat. That even though neither one of us is a fan of fast food, we ended up at that Wendy’s because that’s where my son decided he wanted to eat.

You don’t know that we would do anything to make our kids happy.

You have no idea what my son did to prompt me raising my voice at him. You weren’t in the parking lot as we told him not to run, but he did anyways – scaring us to death in the process. You weren’t standing in line with us as we waited to order – when he was hanging all over the railings and we asked him not to (because we believe he should know to respect others’ property) – but he kept doing it anyways. You didn’t see me quietly take his hand and say “Let’s go potty before we eat” distracting him from said railings and trying not cause a scene by yelling at him. And I know you didn’t come in to the bathroom with us – so, you didn’t hear me ask him nicely three times not to touch dirty things in the bathroom after he had already washed his hands – and he did anyways.

You have no idea what we believe as parents.

What type of behavior we expect from our children in public. Where we draw the line. You have no idea that my husband and I believe in not rewarding bad behavior. And frankly, it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS how we raise our children.

But, what you DID see caused you to judge us

Even with not knowing anything else about us, our lives, or our day. You DID hear us when we told him that the playground trip we had planned for after dinner was now off the table due to his misbehavior. You DID hear him cry. You DID hear us explain to him that when he misbehaves, he doesn’t get to do fun things. You DID hear me raise my voice at him when he kept whining about it. And you DID think that overhearing that small part of our day gave you the right to tell us that we shouldn’t be parents.

I hope that you don’t have kids of your own.

Because if you do, I would hope that you would never have said something like that to a fellow parent. That you would know, as a parent, you only want good things for children. You want them to be safe. To feel loved everyday. To have the ability to make their own choices. To know right from wrong and grow up to be amazing. That all you want is for them to be kind, respectful, productive members of society. You would know that this parenting thing is hard. That every day you question whether you are doing things the right way. That no parent ever really knows the “right way” to do things and we all just go day to day trying to make the best choices for our families. As a fellow parent, you would know that the last thing we needed in our day was someone being mean to us and putting us down.

Because you would understand that us parents (especially moms) – we are vulnerable.

If you were a parent, you would understand that those simple 12 words you said to us – could make a mom sit in the parking lot of Target and cry. Make her question her every choice, every thought, and every interaction she’s ever had with her kids. Make her wonder if you were right. If she shouldn’t have had any kids.

BUT, please know, that after a good cry and talking with my husband and a couple good friends –

I realized that I should have NEVER have let you make me question my parenting skills.

I should have never given you that power. I am a GREAT mom. My kids love me. They are good kids. Their teachers tell me every day how much they love having them and how well-behaved they are. Your opinion of me doesn’t matter any more.

What does matter to me now – is that I take a moment to thank you.

So, thank you. Because of what you said to me, I have resolved to be kinder to everyone I meet. I would NEVER say something so mean to someone I don’t know ( I was raised better than that!), but I’m not a perfect person either. I do sometimes make snap judgements about other people. And I do sometimes question a person’s choices. So, from this day forward – I have decided to do my best not to judge. To always give someone the benefit of the doubt. That when I see a parent having a rough time in public, I am going to tell them that they are doing a great job. That their kids are lucky to have them.

I promise to choose kindness.

And if this letter finds you, and you are reading this, please also know, that I’m not judging you. I don’t know what happened in your life or your day to make you say that to us. But, I do have some thoughts for you. Maybe next time you’re having a rough day and you feel yourself judging someone, you make a different choice. Maybe you can choose to keep your thoughts to yourself – or better yet – you can choose to tell that parent that they are doing a great job. I challenge YOU to choose kindness. Won’t it feel good to make someone’s day instead of to break it?

I will leave you with this quote that was shared with me by one of my good friends

“Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.”

Sincerely and all the best,

Ashley

If you are interested in finding out more about me and my photography – Click on over to the about me page or check out more posts from the Cleveland mom blog! Also, be sure to check out my portfolio to see some of my work and contact me to book your session!

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