The other day, I read a post from J. She felt unhappy that people look down on her because she’s a mum at 17. Here’s a true story that I hope may have some meaning for you, J, and for anyone else who feels belittled.
When I was a young mum I struggled. I had three kids under four, and often they were rowdy and noisy and I couldn’t control them. Most of our daily activities seemed difficult, but shopping was a nightmare.
One day we all went into town. It took hours. Eventually, exhausted, we stopped off to have coffee. The kids spilt their drinks. They squabbled, fidgeted and laughed loudly.
I’d chosen a bad place to stop, as the room was full of middle-aged ladies. There were a few quiet well-behaved children and well-dressed Mums, but my tribe stuck out like a handful of sore thumbs. I wanted to get us out of there as soon as I could, but once those kids had started their drinks, I was stuck.
I felt myself growing hot and cross. My neck was sweaty and I just wanted to go home.
To make it worse, an older woman, sitting at a table nearby, stared and stared. She was smart, with big hair, a cashmere sweater and absolutely no baby sick or spilt milk on any of her clothes.
Every time one of my kids dropped a spoon, shouted or kicked the table, I glanced up and saw her looking at me. She radiated disapproval. I wanted the floor to eat me up.
Finally, she rose and approached, her heels clicking on the floor.
“Excuse me,” she said, icily. She smelled of Chanel No 5. I braced myself, feeling my cheeks reddening.
“I wanted to congratulate you on your lovely family,” she said, smiled, and left.
J, think again about those people who stare at you or seem to disapprove of you. Are you sure you know what they’re thinking? Or could you be mistaken, as I was?
From that day on, when I noticed someone watching me with my unruly kids, I decided they were thinking good things about us. Maybe they were, and sometimes maybe they weren’t.
But because I changed my own thoughts, it really didn’t matter.
“Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter.” (Often attributed to Dr Seuss but actually said by Bernard Baruch.)
J, and all other mums, young or old – take pride in your babies and in yourselves.
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