So, two days ago I wrote about an encounter I witnessed at my kids’ swimming lessons a few years back.
What did you think? More than little bit of a WTF moment?
I know I was a bit confused and incredulous. I probably should have said something at the time, but I didn’t. I made a point of doing so the following week, reassuring this new mum, chatting to her about the baby and letting her know she was pretty cool.
But was she really being judged? Really?
Let me elaborate a little.
This mum – the first one, the one that did the frowning and glaring that cause the breastfeeding mum to squirm and look a little doubtful – whom had, moments earlier, been openly breastfeeding her own son. Not that his gender is relevant.
She had two other boys in swimming lessons; maybe twins, maybe not. They looked similar, and were roughly the same height, and were also in the same class, so maybe?
Her infant child had, after his feed, crawled over to the edge of the pool where his brothers were having their lessons and splashed about. He was soaking wet.
She hauled him up, put him under her left arm, grabbed a pair of shoes in each hand, hauled the overstuffed swimming bag onto her right shoulder, doing all she could to prevent things from falling out. She loudly told her kids to get out of the pool, to go straight to the change rooms.
As she made her way towards those very same change rooms, her kids jumped into the smaller pool, and began to play. Again, she told them to get out.
Inside her head it looked a little bit like this:
Frigging hell, how many frigging times do I have to tell them. I just want to go home, I’m tired. Jesus, baby will you stop frigging wriggling. If he keeps that up I’m going to drop him. Oh, shit, I forgot to get something out for dinner. Fuck, fuck, fuck. What can I cook tonight? I’m going to lose my shit shortly if I have to tell them again to get out. Oh, look. She’s had her baby. Cute. Must go say ‘hi’. Oh, fucking, FUCK! Seriously, why don’t they listen? Why don’t they just get out of the fucking POOL! I want to go home! Dinner? Dinner, what can we do? What have we got in the freezer? And again, they’re still in there. Hold it. Hold it. Don’t cry. No. No. NO. Oh, yay, dropped all the frigging towels into a puddle of water. Fucking beautiful. Anything else wanna piss me off right now? Why are they STILL in the POOL?!
Only possibly more mushed up and random than that.
You see, it was around the time that, simultaneously, her kids didn’t get out of the pool for the fifth time, she nearly dropped her sopping wet infant and she realised she hadn’t planned for dinner that she turned and noticed this woman had a baby in her arms.
The frown, as harsh and soul chilling as it was, was actually unrelated to the baby and/or breastfeeding at all. It was, in all reality, not a judgement or look of disgust, but the look of an extremely frazzled and frustrated woman who had just realised one more thing needed to be added to her list.
I don’t know – what are you thinking now?
I know what was going through this woman’s head, because that woman was me.
It wasn’t until hours later, as I cleared up after the evening meal that I cast my mind back to that visual of the woman with the new baby, calmly feeding it before some crazed lunatic glared at her and made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
Possibly even more so, as only a few weeks earlier, whilst the baby was still safely ensconced within the confines of her womb, we had amicably been chatting and laughing with each other.
I felt more than a little bad. I felt terrible.
That poor woman.
I made a point, the following week, despite the evening being just as horrible (for me) to go say hi, ask her about the baby and have a just as amicable chat and a laugh with her and let her know I thought she was awesome.
I wouldn’t have blamed her if she’d snubbed me, to be honest.
However, I do think it goes to show that sometimes, even though it may feel it, you’re not being judged.
We often hear that if someone has a problem with you, the problem is actually with them; and sometimes – in fact, often – it is a simple case of a bad day that that person is experiencing.
This is, of course, not to suggest that judgements don’t happen, or that people don’t judge. It and they, sadly, do.
It’s merely to entertain the idea that, sometimes, things may not always be as they seem and to feel as though you are being judged is not always the best first port of call for your mind.