Don't take life too serious.

The Day I, Unknowingly, Became a Teenage Mother of Two.


A woman made a judgment call about me today, based on my appearance.  Because my son is so adorable {says every Mother alive}, he eventually sparked a conversation amongst the lady and myself.  What happened next gave me something to think about the entire 20 minute ride home.

The woman behind me appeared to be in her 50’s, was well dressed and had an approachable air about her.  We made eye contact once I noticed her looking at my son and doing the “Momma head tilt”, while saying “Awwwww, he is adorable” (I told you).  She asked me how old he is and I told her 18 mths.  She then accidently pushed him a little while reaching for something and apologized profusely.  I laughed and told her “No, big deal.  He has an older sister at home that beats on him way more than that!”.

Suddenly, her eyes widened and she looked at me as if to say, “What the hell did you just say?”.  What she actually said, was “You have an older child at home?  You barely look old enough to have him!  I thought you were in high school!”

I laughed it off and told her my birthday was coming up and actually I’ll be turning 33.  She did the whole, “No way! thing and then said, “Well you look great!”.  I thank her and we exchanged a few classic lines like, “Have a nice day” and “Enjoy your weekend” and that was that.

I didn’t really feel the affect of that encounter right away.  It wasn’t until after I loaded up the babe and groceries, threw in Adele’s first album (Yes, it was a CD and Yes, I still listen to them)  and started driving home that the conversation replayed in my head.

I suddenly wondered, what was that woman’s impression of me before I told her I was about to turn 33?  She told me she thought I was in high school.  Could she have been looking at me and saying to herself, “Well no wonder she has a cart full of groceries at the ghetto grocery store, she’s probably on food stamps!”?

That’s a bit much I suppose.  She didn’t have that demeanor about her and I didn’t take her for a Republican.  After all, she was in the same ghetto grocery store, even if it was only to buy milk. And yes, I totally understand I just passed judgment on Republicans, no need to call me out on it.

Maybe, she felt sorry for me.  Maybe she wondered how such a “young” girl could let herself get pregnant with all the education out there these days.  I wonder if in that moment, she questioned my own Mother’s parenting ability.

Can you imagine what sped through her head after I said my 18 month old had a four year old sister?  It makes me laugh just thinking about her brain calculating my hypothesized age four years prior.  Her reaction truly was worth 1,000 humorous words.

Perhaps, she felt a sad sense of generational failures for me.  Maybe, she couldn’t quite wrap her head around history repeating itself for so many lifetimes.  Either way, She seemed to be a woman that wanted to hug me rather than hate me.

I have to say though, the amount of relief that was evident all over her face when she learned I was not, in fact, another teenage Mom was evident.

Regardless, this isn’t a piece about teenage pregnancy.  It’s really about how we all make judgments about other people.  We all react emotionally to how we see other people.  Our judgments and observations aren’t always cruel, they’re not always nice and no two are alike.

My mind started to pin point my own turns at passing judgment.  Being that I just left the grocery store, I thought about how I always look in other people’s carts at what they are choosing to buy.  I realized that part of me does this because I’m one meal short of begging people to tell me what to make for dinner.  The other part does it because I am judging how people live and have lived by what they choose to buy.

I will admit I notice if someone has fresh fruits and vegetables or whether they have junk food for snacking on.  I notice if someone chooses to buy a 5lb bag of potatoes or two boxes of instant mashed potatoes.  I also notice if someone has stocked up on frozen chicken nuggets, hotdogs and other processed meat verses a beef roast or chicken cutlets.

What I am actually thinking about people when I see one item versus another started to occur to me .  My own questions/judgments/observations are, “Do they buy fake mashed potatoes because they don’t know how to make real ones or is it because they don’t have the time to prepare from scratch?”.  When I see three boxes of processed fried chicken in someone’s cart, I ask myself, “Don’t they know how bad that is for them?”.  “Isn’t it more cost effective to buy a big package of chicken and then break it down for several meals?”.

As I am processing all this, I realize that even though my own judgments are usually never hateful in nature (unless I’m just in a snarky mood and probably with my beautiful sister) they are based only skin deep, just like everyone else’s immediate opinions.  My natural curiosity about other people’s lives is coated in my own experiences and that causes prejudice for better or worse.

I was a child whose mouth was fed by food stamps.  I’ve been an adult who doesn’t even consider how much money she is spending on food on any one given trip to the grocery store.

Today, I was a woman who lost track of her budget because her beautiful baby boy kept stealing my attention with his love of singing and smiling at strangers.  Today, I am a stay at home Mom who had to pull things out of her cart because she went over her limit and her debit card declined.  Twice.

Today, I was embarrassed as hell even though there were no apparent eye rolling, sighs of aggravation behind me.  I was so embarrassed that I completely avoided making eye contact with anyone in line behind me.  I can’t tell you how many times I apologized for inconveniencing everyone during the process of eliminating my overages.  It bothers me how ashamed I was actually.

Now, I’m considering what my lasting impression was on those shoppers.  In all honesty, and perhaps in their defense, they have no way of knowing I am a (almost) 33 year old woman who chooses to sacrifice financial security so that I can raise my children while they’re young.

By the time I got home, made lunches, put the kids down for their naps, warmed up my Dunkin’ coffee and sat down to write this all out, I realized, how many challenging levels there are to not judging a book by its cover.  I’m not sure that is possible at all.  What I have been reminded of by this experience is that there is always a story lying underneath the cover of any given book.  That should never be disregarded or forgotten.