To the Woman in the Restaurant I Judged for Being Childless

Sometimes it’s heavy — its weight crushing me so I can’t take a deep breath. The world speeds up, and I slow down, and I hate you. I hate you for keeping up. Can’t you see the dubbing for the world is off? Can’t you feel it? Your smile looks smug, your makeup… well, just the fact that you have time for makeup!

I saw you having lunch, your legs crossed showing off tall tan boots that likely cost more than my car payment. She doesn’t have children yet, I thought. Once you have children you could never be so carefree as to lunch after 2 p.m. on a Saturday. I was waiting for takeout, and I watched you. Activities had run late, and we were spending money we don’t have on food we shouldn’t eat. You sat with your husband? boyfriend? rendezvous? and laughed as you sipped a glass of wine. Your pants were winter white. There is no way you have kids. I smile to myself, probably looking a little odd, as I imagine white pants on myself, even for an afternoon. You’re thin, like a runner — like someone who deserves their lean body because they worked hard for it. I envy you. Your husband isn’t looking at his phone. You aren’t rubbing your eyes. You’re talking, and you’re happy, and I am feeling guilty for hating you, and I am blaming you for that too.

I pick up our meal and pay. I don’t take my eyes off the debit machine until I see the words “approved,” I smile like it was never a question and take my bags to walk out. I glance over one last time. I notice you are no longer alone with your husband. From the washroom has emerged two children — a boy, maybe 12, holding the hand of his little brother… a perfect little boy with Down syndrome. I look closer now. You’re still beautiful and thin and happy. Your husband is still looking at you rather than his phone. Your pants are still white. It isn’t easy for you. It never was. You’re doing it though. You’re keeping up. You didn’t let the weight of it crush you even though I know you feel it as much as any of us. Today, at least, you let it drive you, and I am so f*cking impressed I could slow clap. If I did, you’d look to me with my messy bun and dog hair-covered yoga pants, and you’d smile because you’d know exactly what I was applauding, and your smile would tell me I could do it too.

I smile again. The weight lessens. I take a deep breath. I’m sorry I judged you, but worse I’m sorry I judged myself.

This post originally appeared on Go Team Kate.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe a time you saw your disability, illness and/or disease through the eyes of someone else.  If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected]. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Other

How My Son’s NICU Nurses Changed the Trajectory of My Life

To My Son’s NICU Nurses, When I was a NICU mom seven years ago, you mentored me, advocated for me and taught me how to be a warrior for my child. You didn’t know it, and probably still don’t, but I’ve carried the things you taught me throughout the years as I’ve learned to navigate [...]

Things Only a Mom Knows About Her Nonverbal Son

My son, Brandon, is almost 4 and is nonverbal. He and I are incredibly close. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. Sometimes it scares me a little though. There have been many situations throughout his young little life that I have thought, Wow. No one else would have known what he was just [...]

The Man Behind Big Bird Reveals His Most Meaningful Interaction With a Child

Caroll Spinney is the beloved actor and puppeteer who has brought the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life for 46 years on the iconic TV show “Sesame Street.” On  May 7, Spinney, now 81, jumped on Reddit to do an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”), a popular series where Reddit users can ask people questions about any [...]

5 Things That Matter More to Me Than How Smart My Children Are

“My niece was born premature, but she is smart as a whip.” “They told my friend her son was going to have Down syndrome, but he was born totally normal and is just so smart.” “My daughter struggles to gain weight, but is seriously smart.” There’s a big emphasis in society about being smart, and [...]