It’s a moment all parents know well, when that grocery meltdown (the tantrum to end all tantrums) hits, the stares, whispers and nasty comments from strangers who just don’t get it often follow. Taylor Myers, a single mom of two, isn’t a stranger to this moment, she experiences it virtually every time she walks into a store.
While standing in a Walmart checkout line with her four-year-old daughter, Sophie, and infant son, Sophie couldn’t sit still in her cart. She attempted headstands, whined over a bag of chips and ultimately called her mother something not so nice — symptoms Myers attributes to her daughter’s attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“She’s relentless. I know this. I live with it,” she wrote in a summation of the experience on Facebook. “Her ADHD and obsessive little heart gets on these subjects of things she finds unjust and wrong and it doesn’t stop until she eventually falls asleep or something very dramatic happens to snatch the attention off the obsessed-about subject.”
Myers did her best to parent her child, even if she knew it would result in a tantrum. “We stood in line for several minutes, me ignoring her whining and refusing to give in. What’s giving in to bad behavior going to do but reinforce the bad behavior?” And then, a shopper behind them in the line expressed a rude, unnecessary opinion.
Myers snapped back (it’s hard not to!) and moved to a self-checkout line, ashamed of the judgement. “I’m doing my best, and had no choice but to wait it out for the groceries. Instead, I heard ‘she’s four years old and you need to mind your own business’ come out of my mouth,” she wrote. “I kept my composure [and] walked to self-checkout so I could avoid facing anyone else as ‘that person,'” she wrote. “The person with the misbehaving child.”
With tears pouring down her face, she was scanning her items when a woman came up to her cart and began talking with Sophie. “She asked her questions to distract her, but backs me up when Sophie begins to go on about wanting the chips. ‘No, you can’t have those today. You have to be good for your mommy,'” Myers recounted.
In thanking this kind stranger, she made a critical point about the “mommy-shaming” we hear about all to often today — we can’t judge a parent’s ability to parent simply because we don’t know the medical or behavioral struggles their children face. You don’t need any backstory to give support or kindness, though.
“You never know the problems a child has that causes them to misbehave and unless you know the struggle of being a parent to a child like mine, you cannot judge me,” she continued. “It only takes one comment to break someone down. But it also takes one small act of kindness to make a mama feel comfort and validation.”
Her post, which as been shared over 140,000 times since it went live six days ago, has resonated with parents (who parent children with and without behavioral disorders) who have experienced similar scenarios. “They aren’t ‘children like yours’ they are just children,” a parent wrote in support. “She is alive, she’s happy and like you said, she’s four. You are doing the best you can and you are doing well.”