I think about you often. More often than I'd like, to be honest.
It was one of my first trips out alone after having my son. He was not even a month old. I was still nervous to drive with him & I was probably parked crooked. You also probably saw me awkwardly trying to unfold my stroller, and even more awkwardly maneuvering that car seat out of the back of my car so that I could latch it into the frame, only to have further struggles with the brake. (That car seat may as well be half my size, mind you).
I locked the car, then realized I'd forgotten my diaper bag. Unlocked it. Grabbed the bag. Locked it. Realized I'd forgotten my purse. Unlocked it. Grabbed the bag. Locked it. Realized I'd forgotten my checks in the glove box. Unlocked it. Grabbed the checks. Unlocked the brake on my stroller, (AGAIN), and then finally, I was headed into the bank.
These may seem like silly, mundane, details, but thanks to you, really everything about that morning is engraved into my mind.
I struggled to hold the door open and control the stroller, and a kind soul of a man helped me by taking it from me so that I could get through. He was your husband, I think, maybe. You were at his side, your lips pursed, arms crossed. I had inconvenienced you, obviously. You looked at me like I & my stroller & my baby, were knowingly sent here at that very moment just to ruin your day.
I beamed a smile at you though and said thanks, not just to your husband but to you as well. I was determined not to let your mean looks ruin my day. You see, I have this magical unicorn of a child, who is not only beautiful & the light of my life, but he is also extremely patient with me. He slept through the whole ordeal of me figuring out just how to function enough to get into the bank. He wasn't fussing. He was strapped in tight & safe. You had no reason to react the way that you did.
But, when we were in line, as I was internally wincing over the pain in my c-section incision, rumbling through my purse for some essential oils to calm my new-mommy nerves, you chose to attack me & you chose to attack my son.
You started out by saying that he was beautiful, because he is. I turned to face you & say thank you, because I was taught to be polite and look people in the eye. But you stopped me. You cut me off & then you said "It's Such A Shame".
You didn't stop there, though. You said it was "Such A Shame That Children Are Having Children Nowadays". That I could never give my son the emotional, physical, or financial care he requires because I wasn't done growing myself & that "Teenage Pregnancies Are The Reason That So Many Kids Are Coming Out Retarded."
Look at him. This blanket is so thin. Does he even have a father?
In seconds, you crushed me.
I know that I am young. & I know that I look even younger than I am. I am well aware that in a loose t-shirt and bubblegum pink converse, I could have looked 15 years old to you, maybe even less than that.
I know that we live in an area with a low poverty level & a higher teenage pregnancy rate, but that gave you no right to assume anything about me or my child.
You didn't know that I'm actually 21 years old. That I've been married to the most wonderful man for two years, and that the blanket you scoffed at was the blanket that my husband wrapped him in as he held him against his chest at the hospital after my cesarean. That my baby runs hot & that the muslin swaddle was folded four times over and tucked around his tiny body & he was honestly probably sweating in that car seat, but it was mid-march & I was a new mom who just wanted to be absolutely sure that her baby was warm, that he wanted for nothing.
You had no idea that the checks I was depositing were fruit from a business that I run on my own, that I built & am proud of. That I'm 21 years old & have already been doing a job that I love steadily for over a year now. That I'm self taught, that I've created a life that I can be proud to share with my child, because it allows me to be happy AND to take care of him. You don't know that I pay my bills on time or that this child has more clothes than I do, more blankets than I'll ever be able to wrap him in. That he is violently adored and supported by more family than you can imagine & has been since well, well, well, before he was born.
I don't need to tell you that I had to pull over on the drive home, because I was crying so hard that I could hardly see the road. Because despite knowing all the things you didn't, in that moment, I was brand new & I felt like you just might be right. I let you take something from me that day, and to be honest that's the real shame in it.
I think about you often, like I said. But not in the way that you think.
I pity you.
I imagine that you had kids once, & they all grew up to be perfect & to do everything right & exactly in the time frame that you mercilessly imposed on them; but apparently, you forgot. You forgot how beautiful it is to have a new baby & for that I am so sorry. You saw me & my beautiful son & responded with negativity & ignorance. I'm so sorry that you can only extract the misery out of your life, so much so that you can't see the beauty in it, or in the world surrounding you.
I thought about you when my doctor said that he was talking more than most babies his age. When she said he was growing well because of MY milk, that he is a healthy and happy little tank of a boy in the 75th percentile. I thought about you even today, when I watched him interacting with his toys, when I watched him learning this world around him.
I think about you when my son laughs, or when he wakes up with a grin, because I know that he's happy. Or when I'm breast feeding him & he looks at me with this level of adoration and admiration that is unrivaled by anything I know & will not try to explain to you, because I truly believe that it is beyond your comprehension. My son believes in me. He believes in my ability to take care of him & that makes me believe in me, too.
I'm a good mom.
You remember those words, don't you.
You remember them because that's what I said to you. You had more to say. Your husband stopped you & I looked you dead in the eyes, & said "I'm a good mom". Because I am. Because you & your twisted insensitivity could never take that from me.
I am a good mom.