I want to start this by saying I believe in people. I try my hardest not to judge others, as we don't know what's going on in each other's lives. Above all I try to teach my children to be kind and have courage (A line I stole from the Helena Bonham Carter Cinderella movie).
It was my four year old daughter's first day of school today. My three year old son has just started preschool in the mornings and my one year old daughter is with me all the time. As a treat before her first day at school I took my oldest and youngest daughter to a cafe yesterday (my son was at preschool). I had a cup of tea, my daughter had a hot chocolate and my baby ate a rusk. The manager kindly agreed to sell some of my books in the cafe and suggested I make a sign, so after I dropped my daughter for her first day at school today and dropped my son at preschool, I popped back in with my baby to have a cup of tea and make a sign.
When I approached the counter the manager was in the kitchen and the man that I believe owns the cafe stood behind the counter. I asked for a cup of tea and he said no I couldn't have a cup of tea as the machine wasn't working. I looked around and there were two elderly customers drinking tea. I was confused, as surely all you need to make tea is a kettle and a tea bag? But I didn't want to seem confrontational, so I just turned around and sat down, thinking that I'd just make my sign for the books and leave. The man then came over to me and told me that he thought the state I left the cafe in yesterday was disgusting, that I was absolutely awful. He told me that I come in everyday (that was the second time I had been in there in 9 months), ordering my £1.10 cup of tea. He stated that my baby kept dropping her biscuit on the floor and it was absolutely awful.
I was left on the brink of tears, wondering what had caused him to treat me this way. I would never knowingly leave a mess, I always try to consider others. The only food eaten was a rusk, so at worst there might have been some crumbs on the floor that I hadn't noticed. I was confused by his comment that I came in everyday, but thinking about it, I am a mum with small children, maybe to him I represented all mums who come to his cafe? To be told that you aren't welcome somewhere, that you aren't spending enough money to make it worth while to clear up after you, that your baby is incapable of holding a biscuit without dropping it and that is somehow abnormal (she's 1, so maybe give her a break), to be told that you yourself are an awful person is a really hurtful experience.
To the man who made me cry today I want to say that what you say to people matters. What you say to mum's with small children matters. I have very little sleep, I have very little time to myself, I am always taking care of others, I struggle with lack of freedom, with identity, with self esteem. I might have missed some crumbs on the floor, but maybe because my baby was crying and I was trying to get her in the pram, while checking that my 4 year old daughter could get down from the chair without knocking her arm, which she broke two days ago ( I know, great timing). Stop and think before you label someone as awful or disgusting. You upset me, but what if you'd spoken to a mum with post natal depression? It could have taken a lot to just get out of the house and your words could have been more than harmful.
I say to all mums out there, you are doing a great job, one of the most important jobs there is. You should be welcomed with open arms wherever you go. Thank you.