As we started the walk home it began to rain, so I popped an umbrella up over both of us. I smiled as a random male passer-by nodded and looked as if he was about to say something friendly. Instead, he cheerily stated that I wasn’t letting Leo ‘feel the rain’. In another very similar set of circumstances where I was again trying to protect Leo from the rain, this time in his pram, a random lady noted that he shouldn’t be ‘under so much plastic’.
I am not sure whether these two particular adults just like to watch toddlers getting soaked or if it is some sort of ‘nature thing’ I’m too suburban to know about. Either way, the judgement from these two random strangers who obviously knew better, was clear: I’m a bad mummy who was over-indulging my infant.
It has not just been silly things like rain covers that has solicited remarks from random people over the years. There was the fact I had an ‘only child’ for six years; wouldn’t he like a sibling? Then there was the fact our sons are six years apart; why the big gap? Those rather personal issues were often commented on leading to awkward discussions about fertility and miscarriage, which I really didn’t want to have with Bob from down the road or Mel the hairdressing apprentice.
I knew I was not alone when it came to having my parenting choices or non-choices questioned, so I decided to put it out there to my friends. After feeling affronted but amused by the random remarks in the rain, I asked my fellow Facebook mums to tell me some of the weird and ridiculous comments they had received from strangers.
The responses came thick and fast; some of them were hilarious while others were simply unbelievable.
Rebecca was paying for groceries with her new baby Dylan when the random checkout lady commented, "you’re a rather young mum aren’t you?" Conversely, Gemma (in her late thirties at the time) was asked whether or not she imagined having children "at her time of life" and whether or not they were "conceived by IVF" because of her age.
Jo was feeling stressed while walking through a shopping centre with her overtired tot who was having a tantrum in his pram. A random lady approached her to offer ‘advice’ about stroking the baby’s head as per a short clip she had seen on YouTube that apparently (and rather magically) put the kid to sleep instantly.