Oh, sweet sunshine! I’m not one to complain about winter. I love Christmas, scarves, warm drinks and snow days. But, this year? This winter? This many snow days? No thank you. I’m done. Sunday was the first warm day. I had to get out. I had to get at least a mini-workout in. I went out for a quick jog with Henry in the stroller. I had to Instagram it to prove the exercise happened and to brag to IG followers up north that the afternoon’s temperatures were in the 65 to 70 degree range.
It was during this jaunt that my parenting came into question. Twice.
The warm breeze blew on my face as I picked up the pace. No cars were on our quiet wooded street. I heard birds. Henry said some version of “Woof!” whenever he heard a dog bark. It was sweet and lovely. I was energized as my heart rate went up. That’s when I got a text from a friend to finalize our dinner plans. I stopped in the street to answer her. Again, no cars were around.
As I prepared to hit “send” I saw some neighbors coming up the hill. It was a couple in their early sixties walking in the warmth together. I briefly smiled at this pair of graying Baby Boomers before glancing back at my phone. They were the only others I’d seen out. I heard the man say, “Don’t text in the middle of the road!”
I looked up. I was still trying to type my message. In my mind I thought, “Uh, mind your own business, Pops.” Instead I chuckled nervously, “Yeah, not my best parenting move. Ha!” I rolled my eyes and rolled my baby out of the middle of the road. He said, “You can stand in the middle of the road and text alone, but not with your baby!”
What?! Seriously?! I croaked out more nervous chuckles. Was this guy trying to be funny?
I was thinking they may have felt they stepped on my toes by telling me what to do so they came over to admire my babe and be a little more neighborly. They smiled and told me how cute Henry was. That’s when the woman scolded me said, “He’s not wearing any shoes!” I politely smiled and explained how he fights me when it’s time to put on his shoes and since it’s such a lovely day, I thought going barefoot in the stroller would be fine.
Good God, people! Really?! Don’t you think if I had heard a car on our very quiet street I would have moved? Was it the safest thing in the world to stop there? No, probably not. But, no one was in danger and it certainly didn’t warrant comment. Then the shoe thing on top of it? Am I wrong to be rubbed the wrong way by this? I wanted to shout, “Yep! I’m that neighbor. I’m a reckless 21st century mother who’s more preoccupied with her phone than her child. I love the thrill of pushing my kid out of the road at the last second. I hope a car comes speeding by! Screw shoes! You should keep an eye on me and my neglected kids!”
Excuse me while I go inside like it’s winter so I don’t have to see the neighbors.