Dear Judgy Mom at the park this morning,
I can see my son just offended you, and I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that my son, who just turned three less than a month ago, and who you undoubtedly took one look at and mistakenly took him for a five year old, didn’t live up to your high standards. Because here’s the thing – he does look five. At first glance, if I were you, I too would have scoffed at his behavior – running up and pushing aside your son who had at least four years on him and who he thought was done on the swing set. And I’ve been known to tell a kid (much, much older than Garrett) to let him have his turn, but minus the incredibly rude tone saying that “my son was playing there first.” And as you sat in the only other swing (as an adult), I’m sorry I didn’t thank you profusely for reluctantly getting up to let my son swing – because we all know how put out we feel to give up something to a child.
I’m sorry I didn’t feel like striking up conversation despite your belligerent attitude, because I too was annoyed. I too don’t like seeing my son bully another child (albeit one four years older than him), but instead of walking away and taking the easy road, I stayed and disciplined my child – explaining we use words like “excuse me” and “are you done swinging.” Because again, he’s three and has limited words in his brain – and I guarantee 90% of those involve trucks and cars – which means my job is to keep teaching him how to communicate with others on a daily basis.
I’m sorry that today happens to be daylight savings, and while it’s not an excuse, it’s pretty much an unspoken rule that all parents and kids get a free pass that day – cuz we all know it brings out the crazies.
I’m sorry for being overdressed at the park. Because on any other day you would catch me in the same exact workout top and pants as you with my hair in a pony tail. But today we just so happened to make the most of our morning, dragging ourselves out of the house before 9am on a weekend to enjoy Cars & Coffee. So forgive me for being a little too eager to put on a real outfit (All Saints boots, Madewell skinny jeans, Who What Wear chambray top, and Saks bday hat), because it finally wasn’t 90 degrees and I promised we’d take Garrett to a park on our way home.
And lastly, I’m sorry I laughed out loud when your son informed you while sitting on your lap “I’m gonna poo-poo on you” to which you slapped his hand. I actually thought about trying to bond with you over our son’s apparent obsessions with working “poo” and “poop” into everyday conversation like it’s their job, but I guess I just didn’t feel like small talk.
But then, just as quickly as the “Swing Debacle of 2016” came to be – you were gone with your two boys and I never had the chance to really say I’m sorry. Because I was. Because all snarkiness aside, we are all in this mamahood stuff together and we are all allowed a bad day, free pass, or just a non-judging eye when we need it most. Because what kind of mom would I be if I held a grudge when you clearly were just trying to enjoy a nice swing at the park with your two sons, before my toddler interrupted.
So when the uber-friendly dad with two boys came up after, joking with us about the critical talent for swinging two kids on two different swings at the same time, a funny thing happened. I felt the need to pay it forward, because I know that’s what Judgy Mom would have wanted. I looked over at the mom who had just walked up with her young son of five or six waiting patiently for the oh-so-sought after “car seat” swings as Garrett calls them (you know the big green ones that are actually for special needs kids). I told Garrett it was time to give him a turn, and he didn’t protest a bit. The mom didn’t speak much English but was very grateful, which made me smile and think – the next time someone gets under your skin, vent about it or do whatever you need to do to get over it, and then do the opposite for someone else. I bet you’ll leave there feeling less judged. And we all could use a little less judgement these days.
Some snaps I took at Cars & Coffee and our Mommy & Me breakfast date at La Madeleine – pre-park swing debacle 😉