I just finished reading Judith Warner’s weekly column in the Times. Sigh. It brought to mind so many little nips and digs that I have felt — and actively tried to anticipate and fend off — since becoming a mom and having to carry/wear/stroll my child around in public wherever I go. So many strangers asking me angrily where my boy’s hat is, or suggesting that he’s too big to be worn on my back (he weighs 28 pounds, which is nowhere near too heavy) or whatever else. I’ve worried on the subway about strangers chiding me for letting him stand on the bench, or for allowing him to dictate where each of us sit, or for being okay with him standing by himself and holding the pole when he wants to.
Some of the little barbs still sting, probably because I realize I deserved them. Simon really should have been wearing a hat that day. But it looked sunny and not too cold outside and by the time I realized how cold it was, and how the wind was blowing, and how far it actually was that I had to walk it was too late to go back. I was mad enough at myself without anybody pointing out my folly and just grateful that I was wearing him and my body heat was keeping him warm. Sometimes when someone says something, I try to say , as politely as I can, “We’re fine, thank you,” and remind myself that I know my son and I know our situation and needs much better than any of them. But mostly I just try to ignore them and talk myself out of crying.
After all, it is often on the days that everything is going wrong that somebody has to go and remind you that you are an unfit mother and probably shouldn’t be entrusted with the well-being of a small child, which of course you already suspected.