If you follow my blog, you know I have struggled with depression for what feels like forever. You will also know that my specific case includes a side of OCD and a sprinkle of agoraphobia.
Leaving the house, where there are germs AND the risk of an emotional breakdown in the middle of a store, restaurant, etc. can be quite frightening. I've been trying to push myself when I have good days. Sometimes, I have to literally bolt out of the house before I have time to think about all the reasons I shouldn't.
The other day, I bolted and forgot the diaper bag. I knew that if I went back I would stay, so I ventured on. I was just running out to buy a tarp anyway, so what could go wrong, right?
Naturally, once I got to my destination, two towns away, I noticed a funky smell coming from the back seat. Obviously, because I had NO supplies, the toddler had a diaper full of diarrhea.
Did I drive him in his mess all the way back to our house? Hell no! I pulled into the nearest CVS parking lot. I have never shopped for diapers so fast and furiously. I was in and out in a matter of minutes, and decided to change him in the hatchback. Obviously, because I had forgotten the diaper bag, and had NO extra clothing, there was poo on his one piece outfit.
Thankfully, it was a 90 degree day. I stripped him down, gave him a baby wipe once-over, threw on a diaper, and drove to Marshalls.
I booked it to the baby section of the store and counted three double takes and two lingering stares from old women. Fine, I'm a horrible mother because it's sweltering outside and I didn't dress my kid. Wait, what am I doing in the baby section again? Oh yeah, buying him an outfit because he shit all over himself. I'm a good mother.
Fuck those bitches, right?
I found a cute outfit and walked back up to the front to get in line. One weird look...and I was sweating. I'm usually sweating because I'm fat, plus it was humid as fuck, but that day there was extra because I already felt like a shitty mother, and I could feel the world judging me for it. I had a naked toddler under my arm that wanted to walk (a.k.a. run away from me shrieking), and the morning had been straight out of Hell. Maybe it was in my head. Perhaps I was just being paranoid.
I started to smell shit. Had he gone AGAIN??? I checked his diaper and it was clear. Either he had gas or I managed to get shit on my clothes too. I decided I was totally ill-equipped to deal with any more bullshit.
I thanked God there was only one person in front of me because the kid was ready to freak out. Nap time was approaching and, like me, he had had enough. The sweating was getting worse, and I can feel my face turning beet red. I started to pray for lightening to strike me just as the woman in front looked back and asked how old the baby was. I told her "He'll be two next month," and she gave me one of those smug, doughbaggy, condescending smiles while she looked him up and down. I explained that he was naked because he had an accident and I forgot the diaper bag.
"Did you forget the stroller too?"
I pride myself on being a pretty patient person. I don't usually haul off and smack people, even if they're really awful and deserve it. I am a professional tongue biter. But I was sweating...he was squirming...and I hated her.
What I wanted to say was, "No C***, I carried him in here because I didn't expect this horrific fucking purchase to take so long. I'm tired, sweating, and I'm fairly certain that I'm wearing human shit right now. Had I known I was going to be grilled by the likes of you, I would have put him in the stroller, freeing both hands so I could beat your face."
What I did say was...nothing, because Nora's mom stepped in.
I knew she was Nora's mom because she handed my obnoxious son her car keys, and asks him to name the letters on her keychain.
She showed him the tiny green Croc shoe on the chain and asked him what color it was. Nora's mom told me that my son was, "absolutely beautiful," and that he looked "nice and cool on this hot day."
Nora's mom was incredible.
I don't understand the motivation behind taking an obviously difficult situation and adding fuel; why, when someone sees another clearly in distress, they take the shot at making it worse. I cannot identify with that type of thinking. I'm grateful for that. I am also grateful for people like Nora's mom, and the calming effect she had on both me and my son the very moment I was about to get arrested.
I could try to justify this other woman's behavior all day. Maybe she can't have children and is bitter because I get to feel suicidal in the line at Marshalls; kid in tow. I have no idea what that woman goes through so I'm grateful that I did not have the opportunity to respond in a hateful manor.
I was so wrapped up in gratitude for Nora's mom that I was shocked when it was my turn at the register. I thanked her from the bottom of my heart, paid for the outfit, and got the hell out of there.
I still don't have a tarp.
If you see a woman out and about that looks like she's struggling, please treat her kindly. If you don't have anything nice to say, just smile in her general direction. I promise it will mean the world. Being that mom is humiliating enough without comments and/or dirty looks. I already feel like a failure in that scenario; the last thing I need is for you to rub it in.
Please be gentle, be patient, be anything...but please don't be a "C U Next Tuesday."
original photo credit: aarongilson via photopin cc