Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sisterhood of the Crying Mommies?

This post was born out of yet another long winded comment I was leaving on the blog Crying Babies Will Be Charged Extra.

The blog post has sort of taken on a life of its own and I would be lying if I didn't admit that it makes me sad that the first blog I have ever really received so much feedback on is this blog and the feedback is at least 75% negative.  They say you are not a "real" blogger until you tick someone off and apparently I have struck a nerve with this post.  I convinced myself that the comments were not bothering me but I think by telling myself that I really let them start to bother me.  Go figure!

The main thing that is bothering me is that so many people, having never read a single blog post from me before, are stumbling upon this post and are deciding based solely on the contents of it that I am a horrible, selfish and ignorant parent.  The message they seem to have taken away from it is that I walk around in public with my kids in a perpetual state of meltdown screaming and crying and disrupting everyone else's day and that I somehow feel entitled to do so.

While I still stand behind my own personal feeling that is is wrong for a restaurant to charge parents extra because their babies are crying (it has been pointed out that this extra charge may have been a $3 surcharge for sharing an entree as apparently this is common practice in that area.  With out seeing the receipt to know for sure I can only go off what the owner herself said, which is the extra charge was applied to the desserts for the crying babies).  With that said this incident was more a jumping off point for the blog.  The whole purpose of the blog was my own mini vent session on the fact that anytime I am out in public somewhere and 1 of my kids "dares" have a meltdown strangers feel they are entitled to judge me and say rude/hurtful things out loud to me.

No one seems to be walking away with this impression after reading the blog though.  They seem to be walking away with the impression that my parenting skills are questionable and my kids are out of control heathens. Maybe I should reevaluate this whole blogging thing if I am being so misunderstood.

I posted 1 comment that said in part that I was surprised to hear from so many other moms that they felt the behavior of the restaurant owner was perfectly acceptable and to read how harshly they judged the mom's.  In that comment I said that I was surprised that there were so many "perfect" mom's out there as the general consensus from the mom's leaving comments seems to be that they never let their kids cry anywhere in public. 

A comment was left that questioned me on this asking me if I was surprised that there were so many "perfect parents " out there or that maybe I was just surprised  " by the number of people who don't believe the general public should have to endure your child at their worst."

Ok so I didn't plan on quoting the entire comment, simply paraphrasing and instructing you to go and view all comments for yourself if you wanted but it appears that it is now gone from my blog.  So this is going to make me look like a rambling idiot I am sure.  I still have the email notification in my email box though that contains what the comment said so I will post it here now in the hopes that I appear some what less crazy.  It may reappear as blogger has been doing some rather goofy things lately, in which case this portion of the blog will make me look a tad kooky but that's ok:

V---- has left a new comment on your post "Crying Babies Will Be Charged Extra":

My son is 2 years old and it's not often that my husband and i go out to eat. When we do, however, we are hyper aware of our boy's behaviour. Obviously, every parent knows that their child has a little timer and can only sit still for so long. It also goes without saying that if you know your child naps around 11:00, it's unfair to expect him or her to be perfectly behaved at 10:30. That being said, meltdowns and tantrums can strike out of the blue. We had gone out to eat once and our little man was fine until a few bites into our meals. out of nowhere he absolutely lost his mind. as soon as i realized he was working up to full meltdown mode i took him outside to cool down but it didn't help. there was nothing left to do but take our food to go and get him home. It was disappointing that we didn't get to enjoy our meal, but that's what happens when you have a child with you. The rest of the restaurant's patrons should not have to listen to my child scream because I want to eat my meal in the restaurant. I cannot help that my child is having a meltdown, that happens, but I can control what environment he has the meltdown in and who else has to hear it. Those patrons did not choose to eat their meals beside my screaming baby, but i did bring him into the restaurant knowing that was a risk and acted accordingly when he flipped. Just as a side note, the mothers in this post as well as several commenters were offended that the owner had written a post about it (keeping them anonymous) as oppose to asking them to leave in person. I frankly find it very hard to believe that they would not be equally or more insulted had a server or the owner of the restaurant asked them to leave.
In terms of letting my son loose in public, I don't let him walk around in restaurants, unless they are specifically child-oriented. I used to be a waitress and it was dangerous to have people's kids wandering around near the hot espresso machine, or darting between my legs while i was carrying trays of food or hot liquids. my son is a curious little boy and i wouldn't want him bothering other diners either. As for grocery stores and similar places, he can walk around as long as he holds my hand. i don't want him charging through the aisles of the supermarket. he often doesn't want to hold my hand and will cry and scream when i pick him up and either carry him or put him back in the cart. luckily these fits don't last long before he becomes distracted with something else and my little man has not tripped someone up or accidentally knocked over a display. when doing my shopping with or without my son, passing a screaming child in an aisle is preferable to having the child sprinting around, in his or her parents' view or not. I don't think we have become anti-child at all. I don't believe any reasonable person would take issue with having a non-screaming baby seated at the next table or having a child walk beside their parents' cart in the grocery store. I don't believe anyone is claiming to be a perfect parent, and maybe you are just surprised by the number of people who don't believe the general public should have to endure your child at their worst. Perhaps i just haven't experienced it yet but I have never found myself in a position where i couldn't leave whatever place i was in when my son threw a tantrum. I personally find the "i can't help it, kids will be kids, deal with it" attitude very off putting and selfish.

Posted by V----- to Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered at June 14, 2011 11:38 AM

This is what I started to write back to her before it morphed into this blog:

No I am not surprised that so many people seem to feel this way, I am simply sad more than anything. I would like to think there is a special sisterhood with Moms.  A sort of  "I have been there and I understand" love and acceptance that flows through us all.  I always thought that at least other moms understood when I was out in public and one of my kids lost it over who knows what (lately it's been because I refuse to buy my 5 yr old candy at the check out line.  I never give in but he does it every single time so I am sure it appears to others that I must give in to him all the time.).

I always told myself that this Sisterhood existed, that all of us Mama's were bonded together by the love we have for our kids and the constant trials we are put through by them.  That no matter what our personal parenting choices were (bottle or breast, cosleep or crib, disposables or cloth, to spank or not to spank) that deep down inside we were all united together.

I understand many single people look down on me, turn up their noses and walk away thinking what a poor mom I must be and how I need to "get those kids under control" but to discover that so many moms are also feeling the same is upsetting to me. I guess this is just another layer to add to the Mommy Wars. Another way to 1 up each other.  As if to say "oh, you mean you don't immediately jump and run out when your baby starts to fuss. I sure know I do. I just must be a much better parent and all around more considerate person than you.".

Apparently moms who don't run for cover at the first signs of whimpers are selfish ignorant bad parents. 

Some of the places I can think of off the top of my head that I could not leave while one of my kids had a meltdown include:

The grocery store- we live in the sticks and gas is expensive. Our gas budget is pitifully small so when I go I HAVE to finish. I don't have the luxury of packing everyone up and going back again.  The store is a bit of a drive, I have to finish up and go.  Believe me there have been many times I have skipped a few things on my list just to get out of there a little quicker.  I have tried the "just take them to the car" trick but it doesn't work.  They may calm down only to start back up again once in the store and it just drags the entire process out that much more.

Doctor and Dentist offices- Since it's usually the kid who is being seen by the doctor that's having the meltdown I can't just leave.  When its feasible I try to find someone to watch the kids who do not have to be at the appointment to lesson the likelihood that a meltdown will occur but it is not always an option.  Often I can find someone for a few kids but not all of them.  Recently Kimmy had to have several of her teeth capped and due to her age was put under for this procedure.  My sister-in-law and mother-in-law watched Teddy and Karma but since Sariah was still nursing and it would be most of the day I had to take Sariah with me.  We were there for hours and she got fussy more than once in the waiting room.  I couldn't exactly pack up and walk away.

DMV- I had to do this twice, once to renew my license and once to get tags on my car. Both times I could not find someone to watch the kids so I went with 3 kids in tow.  The oldest was 3 at the time.  It's funny because once again while they were being good everyone admired how well behaved they were. When my oldest had a meltdown everyone began giving me dirty looks.
They were on #31 when his meltdown started and I was #33 so I was not about to step out and have to go through all of that again. I brought snacks, drinks and toys and went first thing in the am (after breakfast) so there was plenty of time before lunch or naps.  My son got upset because I would not let him run all over the place or "bother "others.  He kept trying to talk to a few people around us and while I know the DMV is not a happy place I must admit I was upset by how annoyed people seemed to be at a 3 yr old boy trying to cheerfully talk to them. 
That's what I mean when I say our society is becoming anti-child.  A 3 yr old trying to cheerfully talk to people and not only were they ignoring him they were blatantly rolling their eyes, harrumphing and turning their backs to him.  It is no wonder he got upset after a good 45 minutes of this treatment.  Of course once he started crying the eye rolling and loud annoyed sighs only intensified.

ALL of Karma's court appointments and other various Foster Car appointments-Oh the appointments I had to go to with her!!  It seemed like every week I had to take her somewhere or let someone else in my home.  I found someone to watch Teddy and Kimmy for all of the court appointments except the final adoption day one, which was a joyous day for us all to be together as a family.  I tried to find someone to watch them for the other various appointments too but it was impossible to cover them all.  Even when it was just her she was a tiny baby and I could not control WHEN these appointments were made.  She had a scream fest at almost every single court date we went to, with the only exception being Adoption Day. Once Again, I couldn't just walk away or out of the court room.

Babysitters are hard to come by.  We trust very few people with our kids and cannot ask them every other week to watch the kids so that I can run errands with no kids in tow and make everyone else's life easier.  Rants From Mommyland wrote a great post on why it's so hard to  Just get a babysitter".

I plan ahead, I make appointments at very specific times because I know (hope!) my kids will be happy, rested and full then.  I try to be courteous and to take others into consideration.  I try to comfort my kids, to console them and calm them down.  Sometimes it works, most often it does not (have you ever tried to talk sense into a screaming crying 18 month old who has no idea why they are even upset to begin with?)  When it doesn't work I just try to get through whatever it is that we are doing and get out of there as soon as possible.

I expect the judgment from single people who have no kids.  I chuckle in my head and want to just tell them 'you wait, you will see someday" but it's so sad and so hard to take when it comes from other Mamas.  So I will just end with this, I am not a Bully Mom and (I hope) neither are you.  When I see a mama in the store with a screaming baby I recognize that look of hidden embarrassment and slight frustration all over her face. I see the dark circles under her eyes and witness her futile attempts to comfort that child.  When I see this I try to smile, give a little wave or thumbs up to let her know I understand.  If I am close enough to her I actually tell her that I understand, that I have been there and I know how those days can be.



  1. Ugh, I HATE when people do that! The judgement is too much for me sometimes. What's even worse, I think, is when people in public make comments under their breath or to your face about how in THEIR day, or if that was THEIR child, they'd _______. Nice, but really, 99% of the time the suggestion involves hitting or embarrassing myself or my child, or both, and that's really not up my alley. If it was, I probably would have already done it by then. Never mind the fact that I'm of the opinion that unless something the parent is doing is seriously endangering their child, the parent's reaction to the meltdown isn't my business. When I see a kid in a waiting room or the store or anywhere else start to go into meltdown mode, my heart sinks - I know what it's like! It's awful because you know that suddenly, all eyes are on you, and it's like a contest to see how fast you can make your child be quiet.
    Kids have meltdowns. I am actually worried about all the parents who insist that their children are perfect angels 100% of the time - kids do that, it's how they work, and if a child doesn't have a meltdown once in a while I can't help but wonder if something's wrong - and parents who insist on leaving every social gathering or public place because a child is upset or throwing a fit is doing nothing more than shaming that child for being tired, hungry, thirsty, wet, overwhelmed, or whatever - and showing their child that THEY are ashamed of the poor kid. Seriously? I have two boys, one's four and the other will be two next month, and if one throws a fit I deal with it as I do, with quiet words and gentle comments, with deep breaths and reassuring diverting of attention - but I DO NOT do something that I think will make my child believe that I am ashamed of them or something they are doing.
    I hate people like the one you commented back to. I hate people who expect so much out of young kids that they start pretending they aren't kids anymore and start expecting them to act like adults 100% of the time. Kids are kids - respecting them and treating them as equals is great, but pushing them to do more than they're able to emotionally is cruel.
    Many hugs from a mom who feels the exact same way you do, from a mom who makes silly faces at and talks to those same upset kids and their poor moms. Because I know what it's like.

  2. Let me just tell you that you are too nice. I commented on a post, but not your blog. If someone so much as gave me a dirty look when my child was having a melt down I'd stage a sit in. Or cry in. Whatever, other people have NO RIGHT TO TELL YOU HOW TO PARENT. If you want to try to eat a meal with a fussy baby then more power to you. And for everyone out there that says they'd get up and leave if their kid cried, I call bullshit! I have to smell body oder of people who don't bathe, perfume of those who over perfume, I endure drivers with road rage, people talking loudly on their cell phones, I smile when people talk to me and don't punch people when they try to touch my kids. I walk behind people who are smoking, I drive behind people who don't take care of the polutants their car is putting out, share a road with drunk drivers. I put up with other people's utter bullshit. YOU can keep your trap shut about my child and parenting choices, and you can deal with my crying baby. If you dare to say something to me about it...you have been warned! Have a nice day and keep up the good work Girl!

  3. I agree with you Christy and I think the fact that people are even fighting about this is ridiculous. Melissas comment is soooo 100% true!! We have to put up with SO MUCH bull crap from people in public. Crying kids is NOTHING compared to what I've had to out up with from people I'm public.

  4. I thought those comments were ridiculous too. We are all just parents, trying our best to be parents and live our lives.

  5. Thanks for using my blog in your post! I think it's so sad that such an innocuous post would cause upheaval about parenting. Babies cry. PERIOD. If anything you'd think that other parents would have MORE sympathy, not less. I don't care who you are or how 'perfect' you THINK you are, your kid has made a ruckus in public. Whether you're willing to (wo)man up and admit it is another story.
    If I tried to over charge every annoying patron that came into my bar (and trust me, it's a long list) not only would the bar have no customers but I would have no job and no income. Bottom line is you can't let YOUR comfort level or reaction to a situation affect how you act in a professional capacity. I am also sure that if the person in question's boss were to find out about the crying baby surcharge that they wouldn't be too pleased.
    Another thing, I have worked in the service industry almost my entire life. An entree sharing fee is not to be implemented in a parent/child situation. It is to discourage all members of a table from all dining on one small item (i.e. an order of french fries) while occupying a table and dirtying dishes for an indefinite period of time or to prevent four people from eating two for one dinners and all eating for the price of one etc. It is NOT an annoyance tax and shouldn't be used as one. These things are what give restaurant workers a bad name and I'm appalled by it.

  6. Christy, I think people truly did miss the point of your other blog. I was more upset about the owner "outing" the two women and then saying they were charged extra, which they admitted they were. I found it immature of some of the mothers to go off on a tangent about your blog stating that people shouldn't have to put up with crying children. I agree with you that I always thought there was this Sisterhood of Mothers. Where we stood together and supported each other in times of stress (i.e. some days just leaving the house!). I have found that the more labels we use to describe ourselves, the less of a sisterhood we are and the more segregated we have become. I don't know if it has to do with the groups we try to fit into online or what. I miss that idealistic notion of the Sisterhood though. Great blogs!

  7. Traveling is bad enough. Traveling with kids is worse. Traveling with kids who are cranky and throwing fits is miserable for all involved. I wish that there were more people who were understanding of that rather than just getting pissed and giving dirty looks or outright yelling "shut that kid up." I plan ahead as best I can and I try to make sure that my kids have something to do, but an airport is full of strangers and my son seems to think that strangers=it is okay to misbehave, so I totally understand the kids crying in a restaurant, but at the same time if mine did it all the time I'd be going through the drive through a lot more.

  8. This is the V you were responding to. Let me first start off by apologizing for making you feel like I was attacking you specifically. That was not my intention. My post was in response to a comment you had made in which you wrote "I am impressed by all these "perfect" parents who never "let their kids loose" in public". That rubbed me the wrong way because no one was claiming to be a perfect parent or that our kids are perfect. my son, though he is the light of my life, is not a perfect human being who will always say please and thank you and does not throw incredible, earth-shattering fits. what i should have really made more clear and had i taken the time to revise it and think before i "spoke" (i am also far, far from perfect), I should have differentiated between public places and the service industry's establishments. No one enjoys going to the DMV and no one goes there on a sunny afternoon for pleasure. I would never expect a parent to leave a line at the DMV because their baby is crying. that is a place we go to when we have to. I think this applies to the doctor and the dentist as well. I believe restaurants are different. People don't usually head to a restaurant because of necessity. For a lot of people, parents and non parents alike, heading to a restaurant for a meal is something special and you pay for good service, conversation, a nice atmosphere and great food that you don't have to cook! When i do get the chance to go out for a meal with my husband or friends, and a child has a meltdown, I don't blame the child (as if he or she scheduled a meltdown)or the parents. As a parent, i know that there is nothing you can do to prevent it and very little you can do to stop it once a child starts throwing a tantrum. But whenever that happens to us, i think of the other patrons who came to this restaurant, are paying good money for a nice experience and i feel inconsiderate ruining that for them. that's when i choose to get our food to go. essentially, my point is that i think extra consideration is very much appreciated in places where people pay to go for the experience and i would not want my baby's tantrum to ruin that for someone else when we have the option of leaving and eating at a park bench or at home instead.

    I also often exchange that look of understanding with other tired parents that i pass in the produce aisle when either little man is furious at me for keeping him in the cart or their child is screaming to high heaven. I don't expect either of us to scoop up our little ones and sprint out of store leaving everything behind. We still need groceries after all. In fact most of what i said about the grocery store was about "letting my kid loose in public". i did say that passing a screaming child briefly in an aisle is better than having one sprinting through the aisles. for someone with such little legs, kids can be supernaturally fast. like everyone reading this, i don't want my child darting away from me either and given the opportunity to go exploring when my back is turned, i'm sure he'd take it.
    I do feel that bond when commiserating about teething, ear infections, sleepless nights..when i can see a woman at her wit's end with 3 screaming children. then it's not too much to offer to help her bring her groceries to her car. I did not mean to insinuate then any parent who does not muzzle their children and flee the second they make a peep is an inconsiderate jerk. However, I do think it is rude of some parents to adopt the attitude that because they can't help that their child is having a meltdown is reason enough to make other patrons in a restaurant or similar place try to talk over or ignore it.
    I did actually read your blog before stumbling upon that post and i quite enjoyed it. I think you are an entertaining and touching writer, which is why i returned today. I'm sorry that you felt attacked.

  9. oh Victoria, I am so glad you came back :) I was not directing this blog at you and only you. I was writing it out of frustration at all of the comments that were left on the other blog. I didn't mean for you to think it was just you. Your comment just happened to be the main comment I was replying too when my reply morphed into this blog so I included it to help it flow and make more sense.

    Honestly, we are the type of people who take the child outside to try and calm them down and inevitably leave a restaurant if nothing else works. That was not my issue at all with what happened, my 2 main issues were that 1- they patrons were over charged and from the owner of the restaurants own words they were over charged due to the crying babies and 2- that the restaurant owner wrote a public note about it on FB. I just found it very unprofessional.

    Then the original blog went from there to vent my own frustration in general about being out in public anywhere and having strangers so rude things to me about my kids when they cry. This most often occurs at the grocery store because that's pretty much the only place I go with this many kids haha.

    I totally see where you are coming from and I hope you see where I am coming from. In general there were many comments left on the original blog from moms who claimed they "never" let their kids cry in public which is why I stated I was surprised at so many "perfect" mamas. I am not perfect, I am FAR from perfect and I don't expect other mamas to be perfect either. We are all mamas and we are all on the same journey so we might as well help each other along the way <3

  10. The majority of women in this world who are over the age of 25 are mothers or will become mothers. I think it's a little naive to assume that there would be "sisterhood" amongst ALL mothers and to also assume that all women with children feel the same way as you and your readers. While it is up to every individual what kind of parent they want to be, and those choices should be respected by friends and strangers alike, the same respect should be applied to the general public and their choice of dining, shopping, whatever, without children. I'm not saying that parents can (or should have to) guarantee perfect behavior, especially in infants and babies but a little consideration for those sharing your dinner experience is not too much to ask.

  11. I agree with you entirely. Anyone who says, "It is wrong to shame/overcharge/publicly criticize someone for their children, EXCEPT when the kids are [fill in whatever the kids are doing] and the parents don't [fill in what the parent is supposed to do]" is really saying, "Parents deserve to be shamed for their children's behavior, but because I'm nice, I only do it in certain circumstances." Or, "I am the judge of when people deserve to be shamed and when they don't."

    It's like saying, "Rape isn't the woman's fault, but if she's wearing [X, Y, or Z], then, well, what does she expect?" Either it's justified to mistreat people because of some actions they do, or it's not.

    Would it KILL people to just assume, when they see a kid melting down in any public place, that the parents are doing their best? Because that is almost ALWAYS the case, as you find out if you actually ask for the people's stories afterward. The moms in the story *were* trying hard and were unaware that some of the onlookers didn't think they were trying hard enough. And I think that's what you'd find if you actually asked any of these supposed "terrible parents" whose kids are screaming or misbehaving in public.


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