To The Young Mother at Wal-Mart Today

thinking about a young mom behaving badly at WalMartFirst, a bit of background.

Today my Mom decided to go to Wal-Mart. My Mom doesn’t drive much, so I drove her. First I dropped her and the kids off (brave woman she is!) there and went down the road to Curves to grab a workout while she shopped.

When I went back in the store and caught up with her, at least 35-40 minutes had passed. I heard a young toddler (maybe 10 months to 15 months) screaming. The sound hit me like a brick across the head almost as soon as I entered this large Super Wal-Mart. It was disturbing and distracting, so much so that I had a difficult time even concentrating on what I was doing (finding my mom and children).

When I finally caught up to my party, my Mom looked rather shell shocked. Not by my kids mind you - by the screaming tot.

“That baby has been screaming since we got here. It’s making me sick. Can’t she just pick the baby up?”

Now, the screaming was already getting to me and to have been listening to it for 40 minutes must have been too much. Even my kids were talking about it.

The screaming came closer, and I said out loud to my kids,

“Sometimes, the baby just wants to be held.”

Yeah, I admit it. I said it a little too loudly, hoping you would hear and feel some shame. Because I don’t think you’re cool. I don’t think it’s peachy that you’re “showing that baby who’s boss!” or some other parental b.s. that must have been running through your head.

And then it became obvious that you were making no attempt to comfort your child. You slowly saunter by the row where I’m standing, stop and say:

“You’re being rude. You try doing this alone.”

And that’s where your assumption would be wrong litle missie, because my reply was:

“Actually, I DO do it alone. And I have FOUR. And they’re not screaming.”

Another day, I might have responded differently. What I should have done is offer you some assistance. I should have approached you and said something along the lines of:

“You must be having a hard time. Is there anything I can do to help? I know what it’s like. I’m a mom too.”

It’s just that when you let your baby cry for over 40 minutes and make no attempt at all to comfort him, my compassion and empathy for your helpless young child overrided the part of my brain responsible for rational thought. 

My mammalian/reptilian brain took over. The momma bear in me came out. You’re lucky I didn’t give you a big swack across the head with my big momma bear paw and run off with your cub. 

You see, I have this instinct that runs as deep in me as the blood that courses through my veins (as you might have guessed, I think I inherited it from my mother. My big sis, also a mom of 4, inherited a similar affliction). When I hear a baby cry, it’s like a bolt of electric shock being applied to the base of my spine. I have to get up and DO something to comfort that baby.

And at the very least, I wouldn’t take an unhappy/sick/overtired/hungry baby into Wal-Mart and then ignore his cries. If it was an emergency, that’s one thing. But you weren’t acting like that. You were acting like you just couldn’t be bothered to attend to his needs. The fact that it was so obvious that your baby’s feelings didn’t matter was what bothered the rest of us so.

Of course, maybe I’m assuming too much.

Maybe the baby was sick. Maybe you were there waiting for your baby’s prescription to be filled and that’s why you were taking your sweet time sauntering through the aisles for 40 friggin minutes like you were on a jolly holiday waiting at WalMart. Maybe your baby has some neuorological issues that cause her to scream like that. Maybe you don’t have anyone you trust to watch your child while you fill this prescription for said life saving medication.

But I doubt it.

Because if any of those things were true, you would have said that in your defense. Instead all you could come up with was that I was being rude.

p.s. Today I was leaning into the ”I don’t care what you think” continuum of motherhood styles. Maybe it was because the topic of people who shouldn’t breed was on my mind after co-hosting Mom’s Morning Show today, in which Kelly spoke about a young couple who were telling their hospitalized tot to shut up and were fighting like cats and dogs.  Kelly handled another, similar situation far better than I did.

What about you? When you see negligent or bad parenting in action, what do you do?

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15 Responses to “To The Young Mother at Wal-Mart Today”

  1. Carrie, I really admire the example you have set for your own children and anyone else that was around you in the store. When I am in similar circumstances I haven’t said anything - because that would be ‘butting into someone else’s business’. But like you said on MMS today - that child just might need an adult to show that someone cares. From now on I will try to be strong and not ‘mind my own business’ when it’s that bad (I will use judgment…),

    AND I love your comment about how the momma bear came out in you. I am the same way - it takes everything I have not to run and smother a crying child with love and huggs!

  2. Carrie, You go girl! I totally agree. I only have one child, but I am well aware that most people don’t want to hear him cry and fuss when they are out doing errands. I leave my son with grandma or my husband, -or- if I’m out with him I comfort him any way I know how or leave….

    I may have a baby, and that makes me somewhat empathetic as you tried to be, but I certainly don’t want to hear someone’s elses kid scream like that and see a Mom who does nothing to remedy the situation, even for the child’s sake.

    It’s hard doing errands with a baby, but no one said it would be easy! She has a lot to learn! Good job, Carrie!

  3. I think yur read of the situation was probably spot on. However, I just have to say that I consider myself a fairly good parent, in so far that I dearly love my two children and I try very hard to raise them to be happy and healthy people. But, even I bicker with my husband, sometimes bitterly, sometimes even in public when I’ve reached the end of my rope. I’ve also, when I’ve reached the end of my rope, told my son to shut up. Not my proudest moment and I hate myself for it and try to find ways to be a better parent the next time I get stretched emotionally, but I’d hate to be judged for that weak moment if that were all a stranger were able to glimpse of me.

    We really, really, really don’t know other’s lives until we have walked in their shoes and judging them just makes up smaller in the end.

    Perhaps this single mom had a crappy week and felt low and couldn’t hack it anymore and when she heard you make your comment to your kids (passive aggressive, to be sure - and I know, because I can totally be passice aggressive too) her own momma bear reaction was to cuss you out. But, even if she really was a crappy mom, doesn’t she still deserve our kind thoughts and empathy?

    I’m just saying, maybe there is another perspective here.

  4. mamaloo, that’s why I had to post this - a part of me felt guilty. But I’ve observed a common phenomenon. There is a big difference between you and I at our low point (and I think all parents - including myself - have said things we regret) and parents who seem to try to make a point of their neglect.

    I’ve seen it so often. And it’s common where I live too… the “tough” approach, and some of it is even for the benefit of observers which is really sickening! The thinking is, “I’m not going to be controlled by my child”

    Also - I don’t want to give the impression that this episode bothered me because it inconvenienced me - I wasn’t shopping, I was picking up my mom and kids. What bothered me was that this baby was so obviously distraught. I feel physical revulsion in my gut when I see a child who is so upset being flat ignored by their caregiver.

    But you have a point - this mom could have been just having a bad day. And I shouldn’t judge her. But my strong intuition tells me that this kid is getting much worse at home outside the view of others.

  5. I can’t sat that I’ve run into that type of situation lately, but then again I don’t get out much. I can tell you that I would never walk around a store with my child carrying on. If he was simply throwing a fit, I’d leave. If he was upset, I’d comfort him. I would think tha would be common sense.

  6. Carrie, I agree with you. And, I, too, have a physical reaction to the baby in distress. In fact, right now our 8 month old is teething and spends half the day inconsolable and most of the time carrying him helps, but at 3am I can’t do it, I feel like I’m going a little crazy.

    If I were that mom in the store, I couldn’t have ignored the screaming, I would have felt like I was going insane if I didn’t try to cuddle the child happy. Heck, I would have long since placated the child with a toy or something! Because, call me a wimp, but I’d rather be controlled by my child than have them screaming at me all afternoon!

  7. Samantha

    I can’t believe that you talk about this woman not caring for her baby’s needs when you had how many more children with your ex husband knowing the type of person he was. That does not seem like being the best parent you can be, putting innocent children in that situation. You seem very hypocritical.

  8. Welcome back Samantha!

  9. Anonymous Samantha, you seem very credible. You have helped me see the light and now I can see that Carrie is a bad, bad mom.

  10. Samantha,

    So you’re saying that it’s okay for a young mom to allow her baby to scream for over 40 minutes without giving it comfort?

    Hmm. I guess that’s what I don’t understand about you.

    But I love you anyway. Can’t we be friends? I’m not all that bad you know. ;)

  11. What a bunch of hooey Samantha. If something were to happen to me and my 3 kids were left without a mother I hope my hubby marries Carrie, LOL. My kids would be lucky to have such a mom. A mom that is so positive, compassionate, and down to earth. And who cares so much about their mental and physical health.

    Me thinks someone is envious that someone else can be thrown so many lemons and still be able to make sweet lemonade.

    Letting a baby cry for 40 minutes without a thought to comfort them is reprehensible…period!

  12. Awww! Tiffany’s comment just made my eyes misty! That’s the ultimate compliment for any mom to receive.

    Come on, Samantha, give peace a chance. We give you permission to stop holding your grudge against Carrie. We know you want to like her, or you wouldn’t keep coming back. :-)

  13. I’ve gotta learn to stop being lazy and edit the website field. It looks like I’m constantly advertising my little Tshirt Bag model when I comment. LOL

  14. Malkie

    You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!!!
    Noone is open to learning or help when they feel attacked or judged.
    In such a situation, you must only show love and kindness.
    We all know how hard it is to shop with kiddies in tow….(I have three)
    I would have gone over to her and said something to the effect of “I know how hard it is to shop with a baby, is there something I can do to help you?”
    Just hearing a kind empathetic word in a time of stress can do so much to lower that stress. If I don’t have time to hold her baby for her, I would still offer an empathetic word…we can change an environment with our positive energy.
    Never underestimate the power of a kind word, or even just an empathetic smile!

  15. You’re right Malkie… that is how I should have responded. But, I’m not perfect. :-)

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