To the mama whose son ate my cheeseburger at McDonald’s,
When I glanced over to our table full of food while filling our drinks, the last thing I expected was to see your almost teenage son dig into our food … Vigorously.
I may have startled you a bit with my quick, casual, yet regrettably confrontational, “Oh, that’s OUR food.” I’m not sure why I sounded so frantic, because it’s not like eating $12 of food is really that costly — and to be fair, your son only got to $1 worth. And, I do constantly tell my kids to share — this would have been an excellent teaching moment on the subject.
But instead of being calm and sharing, I called you out. Or rather, your son out.
I certainly wasn’t mean. But I wish I had just let it go.
Watching you later (after you had apologized multiple times and bought us a new cheeseburger), I realized that while you did deserve to be called out — it was not for the behavior of your son.
Your son was not reckless. He wasn’t rude or irresponsible.
Your son was differently abled.
I’m not sure in which way, and that doesn’t exactly matter.
The point is, I was wrong. And I knew that the moment I watched you deep in the act of mothering.
I did not watch you because your son made strange noises and rocked in his chair — I saw you because you were attentive and calm and met all his needs.
I did not watch you because I was angry and annoyed, and felt you are screwing this mom thing up — I saw you because you tidied up the whole situation without ever losing your cool, ever throwing your son (or his condition) under the bus, or ever causing him any measure of shame.
I did not watch you as you supervised him on the playground — tall, lanky, still in need of hands on support despite his size. I saw you as a mother who sees straight to the heart of her child, and is willing to wear herself out to do this parenting thing right.
So mama, when I called you out … I shouldn’t have called you out to bring attention to the one way your son met his own needs. (And honestly, he did a pretty good job of that!)
I should have called you out because your parenting is strong, kind, and worthy of recognition.
So mama, here I am. Since I can’t tell you, I will tell the world …
I am in awe of the way you parent in love. You are doing an amazing job. And you — and your love — deserve to be seen.
This post originally appeared on Facebook, where Rachel Lewis serves as a brave voice for pregnancy loss, infertility, foster care, and adoption.