“I’ve walked out of stores hundreds of times because of her,” Taylor Myers confesses in a recent Facebook post that’s going viral.
She’s talking about her 4-year-old daughter Sophie, who has ADHD, a chronic condition that often leads to attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. As a result, going to the store with Sophie can be a struggle, Myers admits. Her behavior is often exhausting and “relentless.”
“I know this,” Myers shared. “I live with it. Her ADHD and obsessive little heart gets on these subjects of things she finds unjust and wrong and it doesn’t stop until she eventually falls asleep or something very dramatic happens to snatch the attention off the obsessed about subject.”
Her obsession today? A bag of chips.
But this time, Myers didn’t leave the store — even though her daughter was doing handstands in the cart and whining incessantly. And what happened next has led to an overwhelming response from strangers across the Internet.
“We stood in line for several minutes,” Meyers writes, “me ignoring her whining and refusing to give in. What’s giving in to bad behavior going to do but reinforce the bad behavior?”
The mom of two went on to share that she told Sophie — for the tenth time — to sit down; and that’s when she heard a woman in line behind her say, “Oh, for Christ’s sake give her a cookie so she’ll shut up!”
“I could’ve responded in a nicer way,” Myers continued. “I could’ve explained to her that my 4-year-old has pretty severe ADHD, I raise both my children alone, I’m doing my best, and had no choice but to wait it out for the groceries.”
But what Myers did next surprised even herself — and has strangers cheering.
“Instead, I heard, ‘She’s 4 years old and you need to mind your own f***ing business’ come out of my mouth.”
While Myers quickly opted for self-check out to get away from the woman, she confessed that the moment weighed upon her. Because she’s tired of being that person. You know, “the person with the misbehaving child,” she explains. “The person who seems lazy because they’re ignoring the behavior. The person who knows doing anything but ignoring it is only going to make it worse. By the time I made it to self check out, tears are pouring down my face. I’ve lost it. I’m angry, my feelings are hurt, I’m offended, and I’m just freakin’ sad that I can’t have one good experience in a store with my children.”
Then a small miracle happened.
As Myers scanned her groceries, a woman approached her, asking Sophie questions to keep her distracted as well as support Myers’ decision to not buy the chips. “You have to be good for your mommy,” the woman told Sophie. “She needs you to be good for her. I have a little girl just like you.”
Myers simple yet moving post resonated with thousands, with over 481,000 likes and over 141,000 shares as of this writing. And I suspect those that empathized with her experience the most are moms just like myself.
Like Myers, I have a child with special needs, and I too have felt the weight of those who judge me based on behaviors my child often cannot control. I am “the person” too — the one who struggles in public to balance doing what’s best for my child while staying composed and focused on the task at hand.
My child is also 4, but looks about as big as a 6-year-old. And while I have come to terms with his diagnosis myself, Sensory Processing Disorder, strangers at the store often don’t understand why a child of my son’s size is running his fingers in the grout between floor tiles (oblivious to nearby shoppers), speaking very loudly even though I’m very close to him, or holding back tears because a store employee’s walkie-talky blared too loudly.
My family has often been the subject of side-eyes, second glances, and discipline “suggestions” from strangers. Once, a woman loudly shushed and glared at my son as he excitedly asked me if we could venture down to the children’s department of the library, a place where there’s a play area for him to burn energy. Another time, when interviewing a potential new pediatrician, the doctor asked my girls to introduce themselves to her, and then interrupted them saying, “I couldn’t hear you because of Mr. Nosy” — while cocking her head toward my son. (Obviously, she wasn’t a good candidate.)
Being a mother to any child has its own unique challenges, but I truly believe most moms are trying their very best. The very last thing any of us need is someone’s uninvited “constructive” criticism, or worse, belligerent judgment aimed at innocent children and hard-working mommies.
Myers concludes her post with some serious #MomTruth — one we could all stand to be reminded of:
“It only takes one comment to break someone down. You never know what someone’s going through. You never know the problems a child has that causes them to misbehave and unless you know the struggle of being a parent to a child like mine, you cannot judge me. But it also takes one small act of kindness to make a mama feel comfort and validation. Thank you to the woman in Walmart today, for showing that kindness to my children and I. Thank you for walking us out. Thank you for backing me up. Mamas have to stick together.”