I am the mom of 2 healthy, beautiful girls, Rosalia, age 3, and Eliana, who is 2 months old. Both of my successful pregnancies were a struggle (I also, unfortunately, had a loss before having Eliana). I developed Cholestastis early on with both, which is a rare high-risk liver condition that can increase the risk of still birth by 15% if not properly treated and having the baby delivered early.
Eliana was scheduled to be delivered at 36 weeks and 3 days but she surprised us by demanding an entrance into this world on a Friday the 13th under a full moon at just 35 weeks and 5 days. Although healthy, she had to spend the first 3 days of her life in the NICU due to her age. She is my little warrior rainbow baby.
When I had my first, I enjoyed baby-wearing, especially while shopping because it allowed me to use the full cart and kept well-meaning strangers’ hands off my precious cargo all while keeping baby calm. I knew when I saw that new rainbow ring sling from from Maya Wraps on sale, I had to have it for my sweet rainbow baby! It has since become my favorite carrier because it’s so beautiful, easy to use, and it even has a nice size pocket!
As any mom can attest, momming isn’t an easy task! My older daughter is very intelligent, but is also high-energy and demands a lot of attention. Throwing a baby into the mix is often overwhelming! I have been home with them daily while I am still on maternity leave from my job as an Elementary Art Teacher. I typically have to do grocery shopping on my own with the girls. My husband has been back to work full-time and works far from home, as well as making improvements to our house when he’s home on weekends. I was extremely grateful when he was able to come to our local Aldi to grocery shop with us on a recent shopping trip.
Then, things went down.
Our shopping excursion was fairly business-as-usual. I was wearing Ellie in the ring sling, while Rose was riding in the cart. My husband stepped away for a few minutes and I was one-handedly pushing the cart with my other hand on Ellie’s bottom, bouncing her as she got a bit fussy. Rose wanted yogurt and as I turned the cart to go back to the dairy cooler, a woman remarked to me something to the effect of, ‘Wow, I don’t know how you’re handling that!’ I laughed it off, saying, ‘That’s mom life for ya!’ and carried on.
We finished our shopping and began loading our items onto the conveyor belt. The woman who had passed me earlier was ahead of us on line. I didn’t think anything of it. Ellie was starting to cry and Rose was demanding to put every item onto the conveyor, including fragile ones. I was trying to hide Christmas presents from her by sneaking them behind larger items in the front. The woman in front of us finished her transaction and we stepped forward. The cashier kept looking like she wanted to say something. ‘So,’ she said with a bemused look, ‘I don’t want to stir up any drama, but the woman ahead of you says your baby is fake and you were stealing yogurts.’
She paused for a moment. I silently questioned whether she thought that, too. Then she added “But obviously your baby is definitely real!” My husband and I had a good laugh with her. After bagging our groceries, I stepped to the side and, still laughing, took a selfie with Ellie in front of an Aldi sign.
When we got home, I took my local community’s Facebook page, Lacey Township Chatter. I posted the following:
‘Well, I don’t usually do ‘To the person who…’ posts but this one has me cracking up, so here we go:
To the lady who told the cashier at Aldi I had a fake baby and was trying to smuggle yogurts out of the store 1) My baby is 100% real. 2) Yogurts are like $.25 at Aldi. 3) I’m lactose intolerant and don’t consume any dairy at all.
Thank you for the laugh, though. I really needed it because I was up all night tending to my (again, 100% real) baby.’
To the strangers that see a parent with their hands full in a store: Tell them they’re doing a great job, that they’re a good parent. Give them a thumbs up, or even just smile at them. If you feel they’re really struggling, maybe even offer a helping hand. Before rushing to judgement, take a longer moment to observe. Parenting is hard enough; the judgement and opinions of strangers are not needed.
To the parents: There is always going be someone who misunderstands or who acts in ignorance. You may be sleep deprived, worn down emotionally, or overwhelmed. Try to see the good or the humor in each situation. YOU GOT THIS.
**This story was written by Patricia Larkin and originally appeared on Love What Matters.