I had an unsettling experience this week. A thinner skinned person might let it get to them. In fact, six months ago I probably would have. However, I have learned to let things wash over me. I had to. Otherwise all the insecurity of being a relatively new parent, combined with the pressure to make sure my little girl can be the best version of herself, would lead me to insanity. That, however, does not stop me getting a bit cross.
This week I ran for the tram with missy in the pram. Any Melbournian will know that not all tram drivers will wait for you. In fact, you could be at the platform with doors ajar and they will still zoom off the moment those doors close. So, to avoid this happening, I pushed the pram through the doors, forcing them to stay open. I guess it’s a bit like putting your hand in the door. Though, admittedly, my child was in the pram (I assure you, she was perfectly safe, there was no risk of her being harmed in this process, as much as it may sound like there was). Anyway, mission accomplished, we got on the tram and all was right with the world (ever waited for peak hour public transport for more than five minutes with a toddler? Nightmare!). Then, it happened, an announcement over the loudspeaker as someone frantically tried to get out of another door on the tram.
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“If you need to get in or out of the tram, please press the button, there is no need to jam your pram in the door to get on the tram.” I was horrified. Was she talking about me? She was! Suddenly everyone on the tram was looking at me, judging me. I had been shamed by the tram driver. Now, she may have had a point if all drivers are created equal, but they aren’t. Time and time again drivers have closed their doors on me, or failed to help me when I stood at the bottom of a tram with steps with a baby in a pram. But that aside, why the public humiliation? She has at once said she would have been kind enough to wait, and slapped me in the face in front of the whole tram. I laughed it off, averting the eyes of the particularly judgey looking people while my little girl babbled, giggled and charmed the pants of the people standing next to her.
And what was I thinking? I starting to ask myself, “Am I a bad parent?”. That’s all it takes. One comment from a perfect stranger. A perfect stranger who wasn’t actually commenting on my parenting. But we are so ready to think badly of ourselves. I didn’t think how my rushing for the tram was to ensure I got missy home for her dinner as she was hungry. I didn’t think how I’d saved her a long wait in the heat. I didn’t think about the meal I had cooked for her, the bath I was going to give her, the cuddles, the story. Of course hindsight has helped me realise it was nothing to concern myself with, but I wanted to share my story to demonstrate that one thing is all it takes to knock a person down. Being kind isn’t that hard to do. Thinking about how others might feel isn’t hard to do. Steering away from public shaming certainly isn’t difficult. So, please, be kind.
For the parents reading this I want you to know something: You are doing a great job. You are a good parent. And, of course, you deserve a glass of wine!