To the Woman Judging Me When My Child Screams in the Store


It’s hard not to notice when a child is screaming and crying in a store.

I’ll admit it: Before I had kids, I would see or hear that in a store and cringe. Many thoughts went through my mind…

“Why do they have him out so late?”

“Why can’t she quiet her down?”

“Looks like somebody is tired, he obviously needs a nap.”

“It’s obvious they indulge her too much.”

I was totally that person!

I don’t believe in karma or “what goes around comes around.” I believe in lessons, life lessons, and I’ve learned and been taught many of them.

I’m that mom now, the one a younger version or an older, childless version of me is silently judging, or quietly and sometimes not-so-quietly talking about in the grocery store.

My child is the one screaming and crying and, yes, sometimes kicking, hitting and thrashing.

I know I’m being silently judged. I feel your eyes on me and on my child, and I have all kinds of feelings in that moment.

First, I’m thinking, Make sure you catch her if she throws herself to the floor or the parking lot, and be ready to chase her if she bolts off, and if she bolts off, Make sure you grab her older sister and keep her safe, too. 

Second, I’m thinking, Where is the closest exit and where is a good place to leave this shopping cart if it comes to that, oh and Don’t forget to have the car keys ready in case you have to carry your 35-pound toddler out the door… you need to be ready, and make sure you have a tight grip on her slightly older sister… safety first! 

Third, I’m thinking of the map I made in my head of the parking lot and how to get both of my children safely into my vehicle, while carrying my visibly, physically, emotionally upset autistic 3-year-old who in that moment is stronger than me, while holding onto the hand of her 4-year-old sister.

Lastly, I’m thinking, How am I going to get groceries now?

So no, I’m not thinking about you and what you are saying about me, my child and my parenting skills.

I’m thinking about how to keep my children safe and still be able to do what it is we need to do.

I’m also thinking how very uneducated I was way back then about disabilities and what other people are living with, and how wrong it is to pass judgment.

This is one of the most important life lessons I learned!

girl wearing bunny hat in shopping cart
Melissa’s daughter

Follow this journey on Melissa’s Facebook page.

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