To the woman who scoffed at me and my kids tonight
I could feel your eyes on the back of my head all night. I know you and your husband were staring at my kids and me from the moment we were seated next to you at dinner tonight. I’ve been getting stares a lot lately. I’m getting used to the stares, the comments and the judging. I’ve been hearing “you’ve sure got your hands full, don’t you?” several times a day. I get “are they all yours?” at least once a day — twice at the airport alone last week. I get glares with, “how are they so close in age?” at least a couple times a week. I am asked “isn’t anyone else joining you?” quite a bit these days, too.
I know your husband was probably annoyed when my 5-year-old bumped him as she tried to get out of the booth to go to the restroom. I was just happy she had to go before the meal arrived. I’m sure you probably judged how I let them play iPads at the table and how they were probably too loud and started bickering about who got to have the turtle stickers instead of the pirate ones that the waitress brought over.
I know you may have thought I could have done better at disciplining them, that maybe I snapped at them too many times — I don’t exactly have what they call a “quiet” voice. You’re not the first to notice.
But I heard you when we were getting up to leave, as I was standing within a foot of your face. You muttered to your husband and nodded disapprovingly at me and said, “and she has FOUR kids, FOUR!” Your husband was real subtle, when he craned his neck to turn around to stare at us, too. I felt so hurt as I watched both of you, stone faced and expression-less, glaring at my kids walk past you.
Yes, you surely noticed that I had no wedding ring on. I know. So from your point of view, you only saw what looked like an unmarried, impatient woman with four loud, ill-behaved kids. You see, I know all this because I can be a pretty bad Miss Judgypants myself—I’m not proud of that but it gives me a damn good sense of when someone’s got their laser eyes on me. So trust me when I tell you that you were really wrong about me, lady.
Your disapproving looks — your evident distaste for us as we walked away made me so mad. I could feel my throat close up and my face get hot. I was so hurt and all I wanted was to hurt you back. I have never felt as worthless or as incompetent as you made me feel tonight, lady. We are in the holiday homestretch and I only wanted to scream at you and put you in your place— and people who know me can appreciate that my reservation in doing so was a Herculean feat for me— just ask anyone about the confrontation I had with the neighbor who honked at me the other day.
But I didn’t. I didn’t tell you anything.
I took hold of my youngest one’s hand and marched all four out trying not to cry as they happily bounced out the door, asking me innocent questions about the crescent moon and about alligators in that pond over there.
You see, if you would have used your nosy energy instead to look deeper at me rather than judge me, you’d have seen I am a woman literally hanging on by a thread every day that I wake up.
You might understand why I took my kids for a mini vacation to Florida this week, in order to get away from the countless memories and reminders at home of their daddy, who died last month. I took them out to this seafood restaurant here if only to get a much-needed glass of wine and eat a decent meal —something other than the mac and cheese and Cincinnati chili that we’ve been surviving on for weeks now.
|Smiles before you saw us tonight|
You didn’t see that by 6:30 p.m. tonight, I was all out of shits to give at that dinner table. I don’t think I had even showered or brushed my hair and to be honest, I don’t know if I was technically wearing a bra. It was one of those jog/sleep tank things, so there was some coverage, but since we ran out the door in a hurry to catch the sunset before dinner, I just didn’t have the energy for much else, lady. By the way, they were smiling and behaving with each other in that sunset beach picture, but you didn’t see that either.
You see, I’m just trying not to break down looking at that guy across the room helping cut up his kid’s meal. I’m trying to hide my grief beneath the bags under my eyes due to not sleeping for a solid month — I don’t want people to see the redness under my sunglasses from the crying that came after I saw that man playing football with his son on the beach earlier.
I’m trying to keep it together in front of my kids instead of moaning about how I won’t ever be one of these couples walking hand in hand with their loved one at sunset. You didn’t know that just days ago, I reluctantly took off my beautiful diamond engagement ring he gave me 16 years ago and that beautiful wedding band he inscribed with “Home to You” and I locked them away in a safe so I wouldn’t tear up anymore looking at my left hand.
I’m just trying to get through every f-ing day, lady.
I don’t have the slightest idea how to do the widow thing, the single mother thing yet, ok. I don’t know how much to talk about him or if I should cry in front of my kids or not. I don’t know if I should shield them from seeing other children play with their fathers or what I will tell the twins about their school’s father-daughter dance coming up in January—on what would have been his birthday. And I certainly don’t know what to say when my kindergartener tells me she wishes someone would punch and kick her til she dies so she can go see her daddy. These worries consume me every day and no doubt my kids see the worry too.
So cut me some slack, lady. Cut my kids some slack, too. It’s not their fault their daddy got dealt a shitty hand and he can’t be here to help me. I’m sorry if you witnessed them at their worst behavior. I’m sorry if I did some crappy mothering in front of you tonight. I’m sorry if I looked like a bra-less sea creature that crawled out of the Sarasota Bay. But what I’m most sorry about now is not telling you all this to your face.
This blog post was published Dec. 27, 2017 here at ScaryMommy.com.It was also published Jan. 2, 2018 here at the TODAY Show.
It was also published Jan. 8, 2018 here at the Cincinnati Enquirer.
It was also published Jan. 9, 2018 here at Australia News 7.
I’m so sorry this lady made you feel so badly. I just wish that people had more compassion, especially towards mothers. I see it all of the time too when my two year old enthusiastically runs into a shop or restaurant. More times than not I break out into a sweat when an old lady glares at me and my adorable child. I am hugging you from afar and will carry your story with me in my heart and always choose compassion. Blessings and love to you and your sweet family! You are amazing and I praise you for being a great mom during a very very difficult time. Love and light xoReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your kind words😘🙏 I’m taking it one day at a time:)Delete
I am so very sorry for your loss and your hard road to travel. Sending you hugs and love. I wish I had magic words to tell you to make everything better. But I don’t. Just know that you have an extra heart in California sending love and compassion to you and your beautiful children. ❤️ReplyDelete
Thanks very much for your kind words. I’ll take all the love and support I can get:)Delete
Thanks for reading 🙏😘
Kentucky USA ;)
I lost my first husband 5 years ago. I had two kids under 2, and I heard all those comments. I can definitely relate to all the feelings you're describing.ReplyDelete
I remember wishing I could wear a sign so people would stop blatantly having the wrong idea. But of course I wouldn't have wanted the attention that would bring.
It's such a hard transition. Being a single parent is extra rough when you're used to having a partner and suddenly lose them.
Hang in there. You seem like you have a lot of fight and know that there really is no choice but to keep going for your kids. I hope you have support to make it easier, and time to work on healing for yourself. I hope the douchebags are few and far between. It's hard, it is.
So sorry to hear of your loss too. You’re right, we have to hang in and show up for our kids. I don’t know how else to live.ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading 😘🙏🙏
My husband had a major heart attack early last Sat morning, his second. I am lucky to have been able to bring him home again to our grrls, I am so afraid of this path, and I commend you for the bravery to face it (although I know you feel you have no choice, you do, give yourself credit for your courage and strength. <3ReplyDelete
Sorry to hear! Cherish and enjoy every day. My heart aches that I didn't get to say goodbye.Delete
Thanks for reading.
So sorry to hear of your loss. I am also a young widow but with 3 young kids. My husband passed 22 months ago. I still feel this way often when we're out. Im just trying to keep it together. Theyre just trying to act like they are normal kids who havent experienced great loss. Solo parenting is HARD, but we are going to have amazing children in the end! If you ever need support, please reach out to Soaring Spirits International! They have been such a great help in my grief!ReplyDelete
Thanks very much for reading, you hang in there too;-(Delete
U got this mom! Thanks for the honestyReplyDelete
Thanks so much for reading!Delete
I want to reach through the computer and give you a hug. Hang in there.ReplyDelete
Thanks Sarah! I'm trying;-)Delete
You have a beautiful family and all of you are in my prayers. However you are handling all of this, know that you are doing it right. You can see it on your children’s faces.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much, I appreciate that. Thanks for reading too;-)Delete
I just read your post and couldn't help but cry. I can't even imagine how you must feel. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. May your kids and happy memories keep you smiling. Take care.ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading, I appreciate your thoughts too. AndreaDelete
Reading this just pulled at my heart - my mother was widowed at age 36, after 16 years of marriage. She was left with the three of us to raise, my sister, brother and I. At times her distress and pain were almost unbearable, and there were many tough moments. But always, always, it was kids first - we were her reason to get up every day and keep moving. 51 years later, we are as close as can be, having pulled together even more as we navigated our way through our grief at losing our beautiful mom a few years ago. We were completely devoted to her, just as she had shown us her complete devotion. My heart goes out to you in this journey you are on, and I hope, with time, that moments of joy will ease your pain and grief, as they did for my mom.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing;-(Delete
I appreciate your sentiments!
You have a beautiful family. I wish I could have told you that night. I try to give an encouraging word when I see a young family. Hopefully more of us will do this more and not the judgmental attitude you and others do not deserve.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your kind words! Especially in the face of ugly comments I get online! ;-(Delete
So sorry to hear of your loss. God bless you and your children.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for reading;-)Delete
Dear Kentucky Mom of twins and more, I read your note about the couple who watched you and your kids at dinner and it brought back memories of my childhood. My father died a few days before my 12 birthday my mom had 6 kids and was expecting number 7. She had many many times where she got those looks and comments but she stayed strong and stayed the course. As we grew up we all started to spot these things and became very protective of mom and the family, we today an extremely close family I talk to my mom and all my siblings several times a week and see most of them at least monthly. Holiday's and all special occasions we all get together its wonderful. Hang in there you and your kids are blessed to have each other! My heart and prayers go out to all of you! RobinReplyDelete
Thanks for your kind words Robin, happy new year. AndreaDelete
Hi Kentucky mom,ReplyDelete
I am sorry about what happened. I am a new widow trying to balance everything.2 yrs ago l buried 2 people who meant the world to me (my mom and husband). The heartache is far beyond any word can explain. As a wife l wish he had given me the last advice, given me signs he wasnt going to make it. My family lives thousand miles away, l keep telling myself l have to be strong. l have to do whats best for my twin boys who just turned 5 and my 11 yr old girl who misses daddy so much. The boys were just 2 &have vivid memory of dad. Holidays are the worst days for us,Sunday the coldest day,as Sunday was family time & daddy cooking day.l fight with my emotions everyday but l remind myself that my kids only got me. Our 1st christmas was devastating,No christmas tree was,up, couldn't afford toys for them, was depressed, sad.So l took my kids out for dinner, seeing family together brought back memories & reality sank in, l excused myself & asked my daughter to keep an eye on the twin as l went to the restroom,in there l cried, this old lady who had been eyeing us, came in & said your children are well behaved are you a single mom, of which l said NO. I am a widow (I didn't want being labelled)and tears just rolled even more. She said oh am sorry you are so young to be a widow(those remarks didn't make me feel better)she spoke with me for a while and left.Never once did l think in my life l will be a widow or raising my children alone,we had plans but everything changed. He had promised he will get better and will be home.
It is tough. I have to take my kids everywhere l go,when its cold, raining. l decided to go back to school this fall, it's been tough, l have had major breakdown and anxiety.l drive 30mins each morning to the daycare and 50mins to school. l sometimes have had to take my daughter to school with me kn some days. My old car has broken down causing expense, l had not planned for, it's tough carrying all this emotions,it's tough being strong,the constant stares & those who ask between the twins which one is the bad twin? Well l don't know and what does that even mean?My daughter dealt with one kid who decided to pick on her,had to be a phone call away everyday for her. Need to encourage you, give yourself all the time you need to mourn and cry, never apologize for how you are feeling. There is no time period for mourning,until someone walks the same path we are, they will never understand. Let your kids be kids, they go to a restaurant if ipad brings them joy, let them bring them.
It's a tough road being a widow and with young kids who sometimes out of nowhere,They will say "mommy l miss my daddy or l want my daddy back". I have learnt not to say "l know how you feel coz l don't think l totally do'l am still struggling with mine.On the other hand l have instead learn to give them long hugs and say "l am here for you,we will get through this,l will listen to what you have to say and we can talk about it."
People will talk, you wear your wedding band, they question where is her man? Why is she all alone with the kids? Without the band they still will find something to say. We can only do what we know best,be mums to our adorable kids. I am still trying to navigate through this new phase of my life. All l know one day all will be well. So proud of you for keeping cook and focusing on your lovely adorable kids. Take care and from one widow to another, we will be alright and our kids will be alright, they might not have daddy around, but they sure have wonderful moms who will move mountains for them and will help them with every step they make, we will be there for every mile stones of their life cheering On.
To those quick to judge or uncomfortable. We apologize in advance if our kids happen to bump on you during breakfast, lunch or dinner,it's never intentional,sorry for the scream and arguments you might overhear coming from our tables. We are trying to stay afloat and hope you understand. Thank you.
Well said, thanks so much for sharing. Sorry to hear of your loss too. It is more grief than I thought I could handle, especially when it comes to the childrens' questions. I hope you are right that everything will be ok for them someday. Meantime, hang in there too.Delete
Regards to you and your family, Andrea;-)
I've been a single mother and I've been a widow, but not at the same time. As a society in general, we have become very judgmental. It saddens me but even more, I worry for the next generation seeing this as an example for how they should be. Keep doing your best and loving your little ones. They will be gone before you know it, grown into adults with their own lives.ReplyDelete
Thanks very much Donna. Just taking it a day at a time. Thanks so much for reading. AndreaDelete
You my darling are a strong, intelligent, beautiful mum!! Problem is there are more painful, dickheads in the world than caring gorgeous people xxx Maybe its just that the dickheads standout more?? But stay strong your children will grow up knowing how much you and their dad loved them. My mum was widowed with 5 kids, at the time the oldest was 17 and the youngest 11. Hard to believe but the grief made us all stronger we could have gone all sorts of bad ways but we didn't!! Because of the strength of our mum and believe me we sure pushed her to her limits. But hang in there and stay strong if not for your kids but for you because you are the most important thing in yours and their lives xxxx love love love to you all xxxxxReplyDelete
Wow thanks very much for these kind words. I will take all the positive vibes I can get- especially from loving strangers halfway around the world! thanks for reading, AndreaDelete
I'm reading this in Australia - a long way a way, but sending you massive cuddles.ReplyDelete
Be strong. x
Love it. thanks so much for reading;-)Delete
Am shocked at how judgemental people are. These days there are many single parents. Very sorry to read about your loss. Stay as strong as you can for your children and take one small step at a time. Join support groups and people who will encourage and help you through the tough times. It will get better. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your beautiful family.ReplyDelete
thanks very much for your kind words! - AndreaDelete
17 yrs later and still standing strong. Be encouraged widows/single moms/widowers/single fathers. I know that it’s hard when one hear that their loved one is gone. Everything just flash in front of your face... the thought of doing things alone... what about the children... what about me... if it had not been for the lord, I wouldn’t have made it. Having small children made me stronger and we grew closer as an already close family. We clung closer to out father and he brought us through. We had our good days and we had our bad days but we got through hem. Try not to focus on the stares and then whispers. Who cares what they think. Just exhaust your energy in what’s important...you and your babies. People will be who they are until they get a taste of the unexpected...life changing...life altering situations... but if they don’t...god bless them.ReplyDelete
Right now I know you might can’t see pass the second but know that you will get through this. Now my children are grown and two have graduated from college and the baby is on her third year. People look at me and tell me “you did a wonderful job being a single mother”. I tell trhem “it was all god”. When I didn’t know how I was going to pick my head up from my pillow...god was there. When I couldn’t do anything but cry all day... he was there. In due season he turned my tears of mourning into tears of joyous memories of my husband. I know my husband looking down saying “he is so proud of the young man and young women the children have become”. Stay encouraged because your days will get brighter in due season. Our children are stronger than what we may think. Love on one another and help one another through this difficult grieving process. May god bless all of the widows/single moms and widowers/single dads. We can and will make it.
Thank you so much for this. You get it. Some days I don’t know how I’m going to get up and face everything, do everything and still put on a face for everyone in the world. Yes, thank you for telling me I can do it and it’s possible.Delete
Thanks for finding me and reading🙏