RB and I converse most of the day. I speak, he smiles and squeaks. I think it helps him understand the world, encourages him to explore his voice, and gives me someone to talk to.
We’d been in Nero. He made loud noises and I commented to him. As we walked out a toddler was squealing by the door and RB flinched. I said, ‘That’s loud’. I didn’t mean anything more than to explain to RB that it’s a loud noise. As I’d said about his noises a few seconds previously.
The child’s mum took it differently. As we walked down the street she started to shout about when my baby made noises I’d know about it, just wait. I turned and said (okay, shouted. We had distance and I’m not yet cool, calm and collected in these moments) there was no judgement. I meant nothing by it and it was an objective comment. She refused to see that.
When I walked past a few minutes later she was bitching about me to another mother. She’d elongated and worsened what I said, saying it in a bitchy voice. Again I said I didn’t mean offence, and sorry if I upset her. There was no judgement and it was an objective comment.
Again, she wouldn’t see it. I was rude, full stop. She trumped me with three kids, RB was my first, and I’d know about it when he’s older. She said I’d said it unnecessarily loudly. But I am loud. Check any school report, it was a common theme. My husband frequently asks me if I’m a little bit deaf.
I said if she chose to take offense that was her prerogative and walked away, flabbergasted. I know parenting is tough. I know mums face judgements. I know screaming kids can be difficult but for fuck’s sake. We all choose how to respond to the world around us. We all get to pick battles. And all of us can find offence in everything, if we choose to.
She said my comment didn’t help. It wasn’t at her or to her it was part of the running commentary I give my child. If I was a faster thinker I’d have said what doesn’t help is finding offence in nothing words spoken by strangers and picking fights everywhere you go. Though it probably helped me to be so slow witted. She might have punched me otherwise.
I’ll bank this as a lesson for me instead. People aren’t always judging. It might not be all about you. And they might even be on your side. If you let them.
And I recognise the irony in me writing about picking battles when I could have (should have, according to my husband) picked my battles and ignored this clearly already irritated lady. But this was my first mum on mum aggression. I’ve been cocooned in the lovely ‘we’re in it together’ mum world so far and I was taken aback. I hated being thought of as a judgemental mum. I hope this blogs shows that’s not my game. So I will learn for next time. Be cool, calm and collected and keep on walking. I might have to accept some people will misunderstand my behaviour but that will be part of picking my battles.