Yesterday, while waiting in the 15 Items or Less "Express" line at my local Safeway behind a mother of a toddler girl and a crying infant boy I watched in horror as the Safeway cashier sneered at the mother and sarcastically (and loudly) asked her,
"What's wrong with him?"
The mother composed herself and calmly replied,
"Maybe he's upset because of how long we've had to wait in line."
Kudos to this mom for keeping her cool, but one customer behind her (me!) was about to lose it and tear this rude cashier a new one. What mother out there doesn't know the frustration of being stranded in the grocery store check out line with a crying infant? Babies cry. They just do. You can walk into the grocery store with a perfectly content, rested, fed, and healthy baby and even if your trip is limited to an short "15 Items or Less" trip that same infant could be losing his cool by the time you hit the check out line. Trust me, it is already bad enough to have to endure your baby's crying and feel a little helpless stranded in line trying to buy food for your family. So when an arrogant, insensitive, sarcastic cashier decides to blurt out a passive aggressive judgment in front of the entire line and other cashiers, I think it would be justified to go postal on said cashier. Who was this cashier to pass judgment? This woman was buying eggs and orange juice and milk, not cartons of cigarettes and booze.
My jaw was still on the floor when the mother cleared out with her groceries and headed for the exit, and before I could say anything to the cashier she topped it all off by addressing the cashier in the stand one over from hers and saying, "I just can't stand crying babies, I mean seriously . . ." There was no sympathy in her voice for the baby. This is not a woman who actually cared about the baby's well being. She just wanted the mom to make her baby shut up so that she didn't have to listen to it.
In that moment I had so much appreciation for how awesomely composed that mother was. And then it hit me -- who was this ugly-minded cashier to judge that mother??? That's just it. She was noone. Her judgment bounced right off this mom (or at least it appeared to) because she has no right to place judgment. No mother needs a panel of judges in a Safeway grocery store. Mothers judge themselves every day, and it is the mother, not the grouchy cashier, that has to look into the eyes of the little ones she provides for and cares for each day and assess whether she's been a good mother. I did not get to talk to that mother, though I tried to catch up with her in the parking lot to offer my support -- but I like to imagine that it was her strength and confidence as a mother that allowed her to look that woman in the face and respond calmly and cooly instead of tearing her head off as I so badly wanted to do.
So, to wrap up this little vignet, does anyone else have some stories to share about their own public mothering judges? Would love to hear them so that I can turn this little story that still infuriates me into something to laugh about.