I was at the pediatrician and a mom was putting her baby into the stroller. He was a grabby kid and didn't want to put his legs where they needed to go, and his mom was having a bit of a struggle. The baby started to cry. One of those loud cries you hear when you know a baby is really upset. She was rough with him -- no doubt about that -- and she was losing her patience.
I sat there with my twins in the stroller in front of me, hoping the ruckus wasn't going to upset them.
Should I have helped her? I don't know. I mean, she was putting one child, albeit a now flailing child, in a stroller. I figured she could handle it. She's a mom. Her kid was about one, so she had probably done this countless times before.
But then he grabbed her hair and pulled.
He pulled hard. She screamed louder than I felt it necessary to scream when a child pulls your hair. One of those screams that if you heard it at night outside your door you would think someone is trying to kill someone else. I kid you not. She screamed that loud, that fiercely. And it made me judge her.
Clearly, she was a bad mom. At that moment, after witnessing it all, that's what I thought. When your hair is pulled it hurts. I know. But does it hurt bad enough that you must scream louder than your child? I didn't think so. And even if it did, this was her child -- she was the adult, who was acting like a child.
This bad mom was a mom without any patience, a mom who probably couldn't wait to get home to put the baby in his crib where he would cry and cry and cry until his cortisone levels were so high that he would make himself sick. A mom who was so annoyed that she had to take the day off of work or away from her soap operas to take her sick kid to the doctor.
After she screamed, the baby stopped crying and there was silence. A silence that hurt my ears. I looked over at the receptionist who looked down at her desk in horror. I wanted to say something like Calm down or It's going to be alright but I didn't. I couldn't. I was in shock. And I also felt it was none of my business. But at the same time, I felt so sad for the baby.
I know we can lose our patience sometimes. It happens, we're human. And that's why I feel like I am being judgmental about thinking that this mom is a bad mom based on this one yelling incident I witnessed. Maybe she just lost her job, is going through a divorce, or lost a loved one. But another part of me strongly feels that she is just a bad mom.
What do you think? What would you have done if you were me?
*Editor's note: I changed to specify it was a pediatrician office I was in when this occurred.
Image via Andrew Mason/Flickr