To the man who told me I should be enjoying my baby

Dear Man at the crossing,

You probably don’t remember me, just another mother with another pushchair who you made a passing comment to as we both waited for the lights to change so we could cross the road. But let me remind you – as we walked towards each other, approaching the crossing from opposite directions you saw a mum, pushing a buggy with one hand and a mobile phone in the other. I imagine you thought I was texting my pals, or checking Facebook or maybe even taking a selfie like you’ve heard people do these days.

Pushing the buggy with one hand and my phone in the other

After a minute or two you saw me finish whatever I was doing and put my phone back in my pocket. As we neared the crossing you said ‘Glad to see you put that phone away, you should be enjoying your baby’. In my shock the only response I could come up with was one of those upwards nods of the head and a ‘yeah’.

But as we crossed the road and headed off again in opposite directions I thought ‘how dare you!’ ‘How dare you tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. How dare you imply that I was somehow neglecting my son’.

Because let me tell you a bit about what had happened that morning, about this baby I should be ‘enjoying’. This baby is poorly. He’s only got a cold but he’s had it for about six weeks now. Oh, and he’s also teething. He’s currently cutting his sixth tooth in as many weeks. So last night he woke roughly every hour after going to bed. And it had taken over an hour to get him to sleep in the first place which meant I didn’t get to put my other son to bed, or to kiss him good night like I usually do. Then, the baby woke crying every hour and I had to settle him back to sleep. That carried on until about 2 am when he ramped it up to every half hour. And when it got to 5:30 and I couldn’t get him to go back to sleep any more my husband got up with him and took him downstairs so I could get a few hours sleep. Normally he wouldn’t be able to do that because he leaves for work at 6:30 but today he’s at home because he’s ill too. Oh I didn’t mention that part yet? As well as the baby being ill my husband and I are too. We’ve got some weird flu virus thing that’s left us exhausted, with temperatures and glands so swollen we can barely swallow. By rights we should both be tucked up in bed with a Lemsip but who would look after the kids then?

So anyway, the baby had been up since 5:30, the toddler got up a couple of hours later and was being mercifully well behaved. We managed to give everyone some breakfast and most of us were wearing clothes that weren’t pyjamas.

It was then time for the baby’s nap – he’d been up for over four hours and crying for most of them after all. I took him upstairs but instead of going to sleep he decided that screaming in my ear and trying to grab fistfuls of my painfully swollen neck is a much more appealing idea. So I brought him out for a walk.

I left the toddler at home with his dad, which I could only do because he’s off work sick and I wrangled a crying baby into the pushchair. I left the house to the sounds of my two and a half year old saying ‘don’t go, I want to go with mummy’.

I have a wonderful little boy who entertains himself while I deal with the baby, a little boy who has watched far too much TV in the last seven months because sometimes I can barely function enough to get him fed and dressed after a few hours sleep so there’s no way I’m going to worry if he watches a bit too much CBeebies if that’s what we need to do to get through the day.

So anyway, my lovely, sweet little boy has been asking to go swimming every day for a week now. He hasn’t been in a swimming pool for over a year so I don’t know where he’s got the idea from but that’s what he wants to do. But he hasn’t got anything to wear to go swimming so as I was walking down the road, pushing the buggy with one hand I was using the other to order my older boy some swimming things so we can take him next week, that is assuming everyone is well again and the baby hasn’t kept us up all night. And when I’d finished my order I put my phone away.

Just in time for your comment that I should be enjoying my baby. My baby who cries for probably half the time he’s awake. My baby who I have to prioritise over my toddler nearly every day. My baby who makes me cry almost every day because I don’t know what’s wrong with him or how I can help him.

My baby who was fast asleep in his buggy and couldn’t give a shit whether I was on my phone or not.

So next time you feel the need to pass judgement on someone’s parenting, sir, I urge you to think about the rest of the story that you can’t see from a two minute encounter in the street.

Yours,

The knackered-looking mum pushing a buggy with one hand and a phone in the other.

22 thoughts on “To the man who told me I should be enjoying my baby

  1. Oh Sarah that made me cry because I remember those days with my Toby and they are completely, unequivocally horrific. That man had no right to say anything to you whatsoever and I hope that lots of people read this and stop themselves should they ever realise they’re about to say something along these lines.
    I hope that you’re all feeling better very soon and that Toby gets to go swimming. I only wish I was closer (and not about to pop) so that I could help out because god only knows I dreamed of friends knocking on my door offering help when Toby was as Gabe is now xxxxx

  2. I swear some people don’t think before they speak. It is so saddening and often in those moments we are usually only capable of muttering something back as it takes our brains a little while to actually process the ridiculous, inappropriate comments. Sorry this happened to you 🙁
    Sophie x

  3. I so can relate to this! I always worked from home around my little one and often at the park I would need to check my work phone for any urgent emails. It never meant that noodle was missing out on anything, it meant I could hold a job down AND spend time with my child. I often got stares from the other parents who were probably thinking I was on Facebook. You just feel like screaming at everyone to explain why you are looking at your phone. I have also learned not to be the one judging because sometimes, when you’ve spent all day dedicated to your little one, what’s wrong with checking bloomin Facebook when they’re running around in the playground or sleeping in the buggy?? xx

  4. What an absolute idiot. The general public amazes me. I don’t care if you had been on social media or texting someone. You’re bloody allowed! You’re an adult. What are you meant to do, watch the baby sleeping to the exclusion of all else? People judging when they know nothing about someone is outrageous. Don’t let him get you down. xx

  5. What a rude comment to make. Us mums are judged enough when it comes to raising our children! I hope you feel better after writing this, he had no right to be so nosy and so rude x

  6. Some people really do not think or consider the situation before they speak! They see a tiny, miniscule glimpse of your life and pass judgement. A world exists outside of our children. During the short times when my son is entertaining himself with toys, I take the opportunity to whip out the smartphone to do our grocery shopping online, communicate with people or read articles. It would surely be unhealthy for all involved to focus our attention solely on our children, even when they don’t require it. And of course, when my son requires my attention (he’s only 18 months old, so he needs a lot!), I give it to him, undivided, which I am certain you do too.

    What really makes me angry about incidents like this as well is that it’s so hard to think up a good comeback in the moment…

  7. I sincerely hope that you are all well again soon. I also sincerely hope that Gabe finishes cutting his teeth for a while and cheers up. I can’t offer any advice over his not sleeping. Serena has also had to cope with a baby who doesn’t sleep. That man was so rude to you. You are doing the most fantastic job in the world and you’re doing it brilliantly!

  8. What an absolute tit. Regardless of what you were doing on your phone, it has absolutely nothing to do with some random bloke. Great post, but what a shame to have to defend yourself in the first place.

  9. People always feel they can judge, don’t let other people’s little minds stress you out.
    Thank you for sharing & I do hope you are all feeling better.
    Ps. I have definitely been there too 🙂 xx

  10. I don’t know what happens when you become a mum to make the whole world feel they can comment on your parenting. There was very little about the first 6 months that I ‘enjoyed’ – that’s not to say I didn’t love my baby with all my heart, but they were really really hard. Sorry you bumped into a weirdo – don’t let him get you down! #sharewithme

  11. Some people astound with me with comments, especially towards parents. You’re so right to say: they only see the glimpse of it and not the whole story. Perhaps if he took the time to pass you with a kind word (like “have a good day”) instead of passing judgment right away, you would remember him a bit more fondly. But alas, it’s always easier to say something negative than to be positive and look on the bright side.

    Enjoy your babies however you like, and hang in there, Sarah! Hope the illness passes and you’ll be able to enjoy a swim with your family soon 🙂

  12. I can certainly sympathise,as I have a toddler (2 yrs 8 months) and a 3 month old baby. It is shattering and I always feel guilty for not giving enough time or attention to one or the other of my kids. Like you I am shattered, but at least we are all healthy. And so far the baby has not been crying all the much.
    I do get annoyed when people judge. I think the older generation does not realise how much can be done on the phone. Practical things like paying bills and ordering shopping. How did mothers do it without wi-fi and smart phones!?
    #sharewithme

  13. Oh, please. You could’ve been playing with your baby for the last 10 hours straight and then looked at your phone for 2 minutes, for all he knew.

    I’ve noticed how at the park, some parents are really hands-on and some are totally hands-off. Instead of judging the hands-on ones as helicopter parents and the hands-off ones as negligent, I just assume that the hands-on ones are there because they’ve been working on stuff and home and needed to get out so they could play with their kids, and the hands-off ones have been playing with their kids at home and needed to go out so they could get a break and rest while their kids run around by themselves. No need to judge.
    #sharewithme

  14. Great reply if only we think of these when the moment is there. I have been here too.I hate people judging or passing comment so carelessly like this as if they have a clue what you are doing on your phone or what you been through that day, week, month, year for that matter. You didn’t judge them for walking or breathing like we all have to do it the exact same way or something. I hate this stereotype around phones in our hands. Its the modern day way to multitask. Like you we might not be just tweeting looking at things on facebook we might actually be trying to kill two birds with one stone as there aren’t enough hours in the day. I hope you see him again and kindly ask him if he thinks multitasking for the family is neglect to a SLEEPING baby. Dear me… sounds like you have had a lot on babes. Big hugs hope everyone is on the mend. Thanks for sharing your story on #ShareWithMe

  15. Do you think you might be a little over sensitive here? I see parents ‘ignoring’ their kids all the time with their nose in a phone. It’s a fair comment really. I don’t think he was judging you personally, just a sad observation of the world at large. I mean things can’t be so bad, you had time to come home and write this.

    1. Thanks for your comment Maria – I don’t think I was being over-sensitive as it happens. I was a struggling mum with a new baby and a toddler at home and I don’t think strangers in the street have any right to comment on what I am doing or not doing. I was already feeling terrible and that man’s comment only served to make me feel even worse. I don’t know about you but I don’t really think it’s my place to comment on anyone else’s parenting, let alone that of a clearly exhausted mum pushing a pram in the street!

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