Do I look like a person who is a leech to society? Do I look like someone who deserves criticism for the way I act? I don't think so. I wash myself. My baby is clean. My clothes are as clean as a baby's mama can be. But I just learned a BIG lesson about watching my judgments.
I just went to Smiths to get Claire her WIC formula. Usually I combine errands and don't go out for one thing, but I've been waiting on our neighbor for something and couldn't wait any longer. Claire is almost out of formula. So anyway, all I got was formula. As I am standing in line, waiting for the cashier to finish with the lady in front of me, there is an older (50ish) couple that gets in line behind me. They are buying candy bars and soda. (I only say that to point out that it isn't a normal grocery trip for them.) The woman starts talking to her husband, in a rather loud voice, about how these young mama's are too lazy or busy or some other derogatory adjective to breastfeed their children and then they have to go and use WIC to buy their formula because it is too expensive. I should breastfeed, that's what I ought to do. And quit being a leech. That was the gist of the comment and tone of voice anyway. I know she was talking about me, and about the fact that I was using WIC and should have been breastfeeding. If I had heard more clearly what she was saying, I would have said something. But what right does she have to judge me? She doesn't know anything about me. If I hadn't been laid off, I wouldn't be on WIC. If I produced enough milk without having to feed Claire once an hour, I wouldn't need formula for her. Thank you Lady for your criticism. Thanks for making me realize once again what a horrible mother I am because I can't breastfeed as much as Claire wants and what an awful thing it is to ask for help when you need it. I'm sure she was also judging me based on the fact that Claire was in a sling, and I had a cloth bag, which usually means no car, I'm walking or riding the bus, meaning I am poor, and the fact that I wasn't wearing my wedding ring because to be honest I forget to put it on sometimes. When you wash your hands 20 times a day, jewelry is an inconvenience. My first reaction is just outrage. How dare she judge me like that. I am a fine upstanding citizen who needs a little help right now. Like many others in the country, we are facing trials that don't come from laziness or refusal to work, but bad bad situations. I could find a job sure, but it would only pay for day care. My second reaction is sadness, because I wish I didn't have to give Claire formula. But if it is either that or have her go hungry, thank heavens for formula! My third reaction is shame. I wish I didn't have to be on WIC, but there is no way I can afford $50 or $100 worth of formula every month. And my fourth reaction, after all the emotions die down, is humility. How many times have I judged people based on appearances, when I don't know anything about them. I use cloth bags because I care about the environment and I have no use for plastic bags, not because I am walking because I can't afford a car. I choose to carry Claire in a sling because she gets hot in her car seat and she is too floppy to carry in my arms for too long. She hasn't learned to hold on yet. I use formula not because I don't want to breastfeed, not because I don't know the many benefits of breastfeeding, not because I work and don't have time to pump or am too lazy. I use formula because there just is not enough milk for my little girl with the big appetite. So all in all, it was a very upsetting trip to Smiths, but for a while at least, I have learned to not judge so quickly.