Friday, November 7, 2014

Open Letter

To the woman in the Walmart parking lot:

You don't know me, and I don't know you. You seem to passionately care about children's well being, so we have that in common. And I agree with you that children should be talked to gently and kindly. But I disagree that yelling at children is child abuse that should be reported to CPS, like you said you were going to do to me.

You couldn't have known that I know what real child abuse is from personal experience, and you don't know how intentional I have been to make sure that is a cycle that is never passed on to my children. You don't know about the day I had had that day, and all the contributing factors that had me at such a breaking point that I acted so uncharacteristically. You weren't walking alongside me in the store and watching how my children acted while my baby cried and grabbed at me. You had no idea, and I didn't try to tell you, because your demeanor told me that you weren't interested in "excuses."

I don't know you, but your attitude suggested a history of your own. You claimed to see fear on my child's face, though I'm not sure how you could have from where you were when you came up to me. I have abuse caused PTSD, and I have been triggered by things, so I can understand where your reaction could have come from. There's another thing we might have in common.

But, ma'am, chastising me, accusing me of abusing my children, and saying you were calling people to take my children away from me was not helpful. If I had been a real abuser, that could have put me over the edge and caused much more harm than yelling. Instead you turned a really bad day in to one of the worst days I've had in a very long time. You could have been a light to me, madam. Had you come to me gently, asked if I needed help or if there was anything you could have done to help, I would have been so grateful. You would have been my hero, and helped salvage my day. Instead you tore me down even lower.

I'd like you to know that when I got home I apologized to my children and asked for their forgiveness, which they gave me. I'm pretty sure they were much more upset by the sobbing on my knees I did on and off the rest of that day than by the loud, frustrated vent you heard.

I've never been in the situation that you were in that day; and with my own PTSD, I don't know how I would react if I witnessed what you did. But I really hope that after what I experienced with you that if I am ever in that position I will choose to be a light and a help to another mother, rather than add another load onto her back. I hope I remember my own bad days, and offer her the benefit of the doubt. And I hope that she would let me help her.

Signed, the young mother in the bright pink skirt.


  1. (((((Hugs)))) to you, and your ability to be so gracious to someone who was not. Yesterday was a bad, bad day around our house that resulted in some tears and Mommy apologies, also. I hope today brings more peace your way. <3 <3

  2. Beautifully said. I'm sorry you experienced such ugliness from another woman.

  3. Hugs to you. Honestly, people should speak less and think more.

  4. :( Yet another reason not to shop at WalMart. Hugs to you!

  5. Thank you, everyone. I thought I was handling it okay, but I've been having constant panic and anxiety attacks multiple times a day ever since it happened. This camel's back is broken, and I don't know how to fix it. I'm getting professional help, but I'm still in a bad spot. So if you pray, I would appreciate the prayers.

  6. I'm sorry she did that to you. The day after my husband lost his job, I had a similar encounter. My son was undoubtedly picking up on our stress and acting out, and I lost my patience and yelled at him in public, only to have an interfering wretch of a woman insert herself in our business, threaten CPS, and generally make a bad situation so much more awful for my entire family, including my son, who told her to "Go away and leave my mom alone!" I was a wreck for weeks afterward, and yes, I apologized to my wonderful kid later, just as you did. Life happens to everyone. We all have bad days. No one deserves to be judged on one incident, and people who think they are "helping children" by bullying a parent who is maybe not having the best and most stellar parenting moment, but isn't abusive (and I too have reason to know the difference) have either been out of the parenting trenches long enough to forget what a bad day is like, or have convenient memories of their own imagined perfection. Hoping this trauma fades for you soon.

  7. I admire you for your courage. I also have PTSD and panic attacks, which led to agoraphobia. I only went to the store one time with my kids in 2014. I guess my point is, keep going out, keep being yourself, and keep working on every trigger, because even though it may take a long time, it is possible to mitigate the triggers and make it easier not to let stuff get under your skin when already triggered. *hugs* Happy New Year!! :-)


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