parent opinion

'10 minutes into my summer holiday, I was mum shamed.'

"You do realise your kids have shoes on."

I glanced up and looked slowly from the speaker, a hotel guest in her mid-forties, to my kids, aged three and five. The daggers shooting from her eyes in a clear mark of disgust.

Admittedly, they were chasing each other around a couch in the hotel lobby, my eldest taking the occasional short-cut over the cushions to leap at his sister, catching her in fits of giggles. Filled to the brim with excitement, they’d finally glimpsed the waterslides they’d been dreaming of, only been told to hang on just a little bit longer. Only until we could check in and drop off our bags. After a long day of travel their pent up energy was bubbling over.

Frozen, I weighed up the options for my reply. Apologise or admonish? Discipline or defend? Flight or fight?

I slowly returned my gaze to her, and calmly replied, "yes".

Inside I was raging. What she didn’t know, because how could she, was that these same kids had been little champions on the flight. We’d carefully prepared for every step of the way. My five-year-old coaching his little sister through each part of the airport process: first drop off our bags, second get through security and immigration, then the first bribe of the trip - a pre-boarding visit to McDonalds. The anticipation of the impending plane ride and fully loaded iPads were enough to get them through boarding procedures, and their backpacks filled with snacks and surprises meant the flight was mostly uneventful. Just as every parent hopes for!

Image: Supplied.

The cracks started to show as we joined yet another queue, this time to clear customs. The kids’ patience and mine starting to wear thin. A toilet run before grabbing the suitcases and onto the final stretch. An hour car ride was the final step. An afternoon spent poolside was within reach.


"People sit on that couch," came her voice, tone dripping with judgement.

I paused, taking the time to consider my response. Snark replies silently rolling through my mind alongside the guilt at the behaviour of my children.

This wasn’t how I wanted our holiday to begin. The plan was to stash our stuff as quickly as possible and dive straight into that crystal clear water. I didn’t want to kill the vibe with an argument, with either my kids or this new foe.

Sharp retorts sprang to mind. "You clearly don’t have kids," was one. But I didn't want to be the cruel woman who plays the fertility card. "Would you like to yell at them then?" seemed like another option, but how could I direct this stranger’s venom their way. "We’ve just traveled for almost 24 hours to get here, they’re just a bit excited," probably would have been the most rational.

Instead, I repeated my initial actions, a glance from her to my children and back to her. "Yes." Before looking downward, hiding my embarrassment and bravado by pretending to scroll on my phone.


Watch: Classic Mum Phrases. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

My five-year-old noticed the exchange and looked over curiously while his sister tried to continue their game.

"With their clean clothes," came her response, complete with a pause for dramatic effect as she gestured the full length of her own outfit. Freshly laundered, one would assume.

Gobsmacked that we were still having this exchange, I locked eyes with her glare. "Yes," came my passive aggressive reply.

As she stood, my five-year-old came over to me. "Mum, can we go swimming yet?"

"Almost honey, but hey, can you stop playing around the couch?" 

I caught her smug look from the corner of my eye.

“Why?” He asked, slightly crestfallen.

"Oh, that lady doesn’t like it," I said, nodding in her direction. Without missing a beat he looked at her and asked, "Does she work here?"

"No," I said with a smile as she stomped off in a huff.

We went on to have one of the best holidays of our lives. In a true turn of irony, as we hit the breakfast buffet guess who was seated on the next table over? And do you think I could get my kids to wear their shoes?

Feature Image: Supplied.

As one of our readers we want to hear from you! Complete this survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.