Whether on social media or out and about running errands, it feels like it's almost impossible for parents to avoid undue judgment and critical remarks. Bizarrely enough, when it comes to other people's babies, plenty of strangers seem to think they know best. A mom named Tracy Bennett recently recalled on the popular Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk how she was approached by a fellow Costco customer who mansplained her children's behavior to her. In turn, Bennett was inspired to write a passionate open letter, defending "stressed out" parents who are "trying their damnedest to get through" a variety of challenging situations with their L.O.s.
Bennett had arrived at Costco on September 27 with her sons, Elliot, 2, and Isaac, 7 months, according to TODAY. Compounding an already difficult situation was the fact that she had lost her membership card and had been waiting in line for 15 minutes. That's when she was approached by a man who she addressed in her post.
The mom of two wrote, "To the man at Costco today who glanced over at me on my phone while my babies were fussing and felt the need to say, 'You see these babies? They fuss like that because they want your attention. Maybe you should get off of your phone and give them your attention.'"
- RELATED: Mom’s Open Letter to the Woman Who Shamed Her at Target: 'You Obviously Never Had a Toddler'
Bennett's response? "First of all, I had no idea the toddler saying, 'Mama, pizza, mama, pizza' over and over and the baby making pre-cry warnings to alert me that if we don’t move soon he’s gong to lose it wanted my attention. Thank you for that brilliant analysis of the situation. Secondly, I had been in the Membership line for 15 minutes already. I pulled out books, snacks, patty cake, and even took to creepily pointing out items in buggies as customers left the store to entertain them. Thirdly, you had been in the Refunds line next to me for a total of two minutes or else you would have seen the smiles and laughs and interaction."
She continued, "Lastly, after 15 minutes, these babies got a bit fussy. And on the meltdown scale, they were barely even at a 1. Sensing the meltdown brewing, I took out my phone, downloaded the Costco app and texted my husband to ask what our log in is in an attempt to just get my membership card on my phone. Because I ran out of tricks and my kids ran out of patience and now my goal was to just get us out of this line as quickly as possible before they released the kraken."
"But thank you for your parenting advice," Bennett wrote. "Thank you for taking the time out of your day to shame a young mother with two tiny children. Thank you for seeing a stressful moment and deciding, 'I think I’ll make this worse for her.'"
- RELATED: 'Fed is Best': One Mom's Amazing Response to the Stranger Who Shamed Her for Buying Baby Formula
Then, addressing "everyone," she pointed out that "if you see a mother (or father) with young children out in public ANYWHERE, assume she is stressed out. Assume she is trying her damnedest to get through the situation. Assume this is the very last place she wants to be. Assume she’d rather be home cuddling, playing, running around with her babies. Assume she probably has had no sleep since her first child was born. Assume she is hungry, because her toddler decided he wanted extra eggs this morning so she gave him her breakfast in addition to his own. And if you have nothing kind or supportive to offer her, please mind your own business."
Bennett noted that these parents' "babies are healthy, our babies are happy (despite the fact that they are not currently pleased with standing in line at Costco), and our babies are loved fiercely by us. And for the love of God, our babies can wait two minutes while we try to solve a problem on your phone."
The post wracked up over 1.6K shares and 6.8K reactions. Fellow moms could absolutely relate to Bennett's struggle. One commenter wrote, "This is the problem with parenting in our society. Everyone is so quick to judge but not lend a helping hand." Another said, "So much love for this mama and babies, because I know the struggle and at the end of the day the struggle is real."
Who knows if the man who approached Bennett will see or even understand her open letter, but having the support of other parents, who can relate and are in her corner, is heartening in and of itself.
As she told TODAY, "It makes you feel supported and united. Motherhood is hard, and it takes a lot of people telling you that you're not ruining your children's lives and sharing their own hot messes for you to feel like you're doing OK."