Mama Bear Goes Grocery Shopping
Public Service Announcement—When you see me walk into a store with my four young children (two sets of twins), please don’t assume that just because there are a lot of them that they are going to reek havoc on your store and destroy everything in their path. This is because I work very hard to make sure they are schooled in appropriate behavior and are conscious of their surroundings and actions. If ever their behavior is not acceptable, rest assured, as their mother, I will follow through with an appropriate response.
This past week was February school vacation week, so I did not have any windows of time where I could grocery shop solo mission. Do I usually prefer to grocery shop solo mission? Absolutely. Is that always possible in my world? The answer is no—especially since my husband works at sea for months at a time as a Chief Engineer in the U.S. Merchant Marines.
I went into a well-known chain grocery store this week with my children and had a very upsetting experience. This was not a large-scale grocery store, but a smaller, specialty store with not as much open space and narrow aisles. Naturally, I was aware that since there are a lot of us in tow navigating the store, I tried my hardest to keep all four of my kiddos contained as I made my selections. As we approached an employee stocking shelves, she looked us up and down with disapproving glares—her body language making me extremely uncomfortable as I looked for my food items.
Sensing her negative vibes, I made it a point to stop and remind my children once again to be aware of their surroundings and of others who are trying to get through to the shelves. She listened to my reminders and I thought to myself, “Maybe now she will relax knowing that I am on top of them.” Quite the opposite occurred.
She kept staring at us until one of my children stepped a little bit away from the pack. It was as if she wanted one of the children to be out of line just so she could prove to herself that her pre-conceived notions of us were true. “Be careful,” she scolded in such a rude and judgmental manner that I now wanted to get out of the store as quickly as possible. I knew it would probably not do any good to engage with her so I took a deep breath and tried to finish my shopping as quickly as possible. The Mama Bear was disturbed, but I tried to keep it at bay.
When we got to the checkout, the young man behind the register greeted us with smiles and asked about my day and my shopping experience. Normally, I probably would have just answered a generic “fine” and left it at that. This time, however, I asserted my voice for mamas everywhere and especially mamas with large families.
In a very matter-of-fact, non-confrontational way, I started to tell the cashier about how uncomfortable my shopping experience had been due to the other employee’s attitude towards my children and me. The store manager was in ear shot and as soon as he heard my story, he came over immediately.
My eyes started to tear up a bit as I tried to squelch my emotion and frustration. I told the store manager my story and how in my world, more often than not, my four children come shopping with me. I went on to say that I should not be made to feel scrutinized in a store based solely on the number of children I have with me.
While I was speaking with him, another employee overheard and told me that she was a twin and understands the plight of not only mothers in general, but mothers of multiples. She looked at my children quietly standing by as I spoke up, and complimented their behavior.
The store manager apologized profusely and assured me that he would alert his entire staff to this incident—guaranteeing that it would never happen again and that this treatment was unacceptable. I thanked him for hearing me out and as I turned around, the other employee handed me a bouquet of flowers as a further apology.
Although my shopping experience was upsetting, I left the store feeling empowered about speaking up. l’d like to believe that my my honesty may make others think twice about rushing to judgement when it comes to a parent shopping with children and hopeful it may prevent other moms from experiencing that sort of treatment.