Picture the scene.
It's 8pm on a Friday.
A hot, sweaty tube carriage on the hottest day of the year.
A 16-month-old sitting in his buggy, quietly eating some raisins.
A three-year-old, kneeling on one of the seats playing with his toy car.
Kids, who are normally bouncing off the walls, sitting still for a moment because they have been out and about all day.
One tired Mum, who looks at her phone to escape into the world of Instagram for a few moments before the wifi dies in the tube tunnel.
And one uncaring, selfish woman with a disapproving roll of the eyes makes a thoughtless comment.
‘Ugh, you shouldn’t be on your phone around your kids, everyone now days is just on their phones, you’re missing all these moments. When my kids were young, I was never on my phone. ’
Well, that one kinda stung. So here you go, lady. Here are my thoughts.
Dear unkind lady,
Let's start from the beginning of the day, shall we?
When I got woken up at 6am that day, it wasn't by the sound of birds or the rising of the sun. No. It was by my three-year-old, sitting up in my bed, eating. You see, he'd managed to sneak out of his room and brought a snack up and was making crumbs in the bed. What was he eating you ask? A biscuit? Chocolate? Some other treat he's not usually allowed?
No no no. My son was eating a stock cube. An actual stock cube.
So my day very much started with wondering what kind of feral beast I was raising, who thought stock cubes were delicious.
With some real food in our bellies and it being a lovely hot day we decided we were going to take the day off and enjoy some time in Hyde Park. We left at 11 am. I wanted to leave at 9 am, but hey, kids. I needed several changes of clothes which weren't actually finished drying because I'd turned off the dryer before falling into bed in my clothes the night before, so those added on an extra half hour.
By the time we encountered you on the way home, we had been out for nine hours straight, enjoying 'all the moments.' I own a business, and social media is important, but I had barely had time to glance at my phone, let alone look at Instagram, and I was exhausted.
Exhausted because although we live in greater London, it still takes about an hour to get to Hyde Park and a bus and a 40-minute tube journey with a one-year-old (Ollie) and three-year-old (Zach) isn’t fun for anybody.
Exhausted because I’d changed two nappies and five sets of clothes between them (an explosive nappy, a fountain and an adventure park to blame.)
Exhausted because I'd had to run after Ollie to stop him falling into a pond while trying to convince Zach that the help guide was doing a fine job on his own and didn't need a three-year-old to help him direct people.
Exhausted because Ollie didn’t want to leave the fountain and screamed, and Zach didn’t want to leave the adventure park. Or the fountain, or the sushi place, or the train for that matter.
Exhausted just because parenting is hard sometimes.
Every mother knows that. So why, oh why, did you, as a mother yourself, feel like you could voice your parenting opinion to me in a hurtful way. Your unkind comment lingered in the air, but your rudeness was a reflection on you, not me, and besides how miserable do you have to be to think you have a right to say that to someone?
In that moment I wanted to be the person that stands my ground and quickly fires something back, but instead, I tilted my head to the side, forced a smile at you and told you that I hoped you had a nice evening. There is a time to put someone in their place, but I knew I wanted to let this one go and I felt great knowing that I wouldn't let you get to me, and besides, I knew I'd write a blog post on it soon! I'll tell you something else.
I know that despite not always getting things right, I'm not perfect, but that's OK, I am doing the best job I possibly can.
And it's not always easy.
I'm sure that you are doing the best you can, and in some strange way, you feel like you were entirely within your rights to tell me that I should get off my phone.
But I am telling you that you're not. You have no idea what is going on in someone else's life. You don't know how many butts they've wiped, how much snot is on their shoulder or how many arguments they had with a preschooler that day.
So you don't get to tell them how to parent.
And anyway, lady... of course you weren't on the phone when your kids were young, it wouldn't have fit in your bag.
Yours (somewhat) sincerely,
Letting it go now that I've written the blog post.
What rude things have you had to put up with on public transport?
Let us know in the comments!