Last week I was having a morning to myself to catch up on some work. It is kind of a luxury as a work from home mum to have some time without 2 adorable toddlers emploring me for another drink, a sandwich or to play another round of the memory game, a few overs of cricket or a couple of sets of balloon tennis.
But here I was on my Friday morning, two toddlers enjoying their kinder and playgroup morning and me, laptop in hand, spreading myself out at the local cafe for some coffee, some phone calls, some emails, some writing and some toasted banana bread.
On this particular day I had to catch up on some admin work for Heartfelt, the charity organisation where I am the Volunteer State Rep.
Fifteen minutes in to my peace (well it was peaceful in that it was void of my toddlers, but it was anything but quiet), I received my coffee and took a call and proceeded to type. There were lots of mums catching up for coffee after the school drop off, some small xmas breakup gatherings and a table of students enjoying the morning off from exams. It was pretty noisy actually, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I set out to do. Then the lady on the table next to me turned around, I looked at her and smiled and she said “just how long are you going to be doing that for?” “I beg your pardon?” I responded a little confused. “That tapping. How long are you going to be tapping on that thing pretending you are in an office not a cafe?”
At that point I was in that kind of state of shock that requires some thought about how to proceed. I mumbled something about whether she was going to ask everyone else in the coffee shop to refrain from making any noise, but I really was a little dumbfounded.
She turned around and in my head I had worked out that this is what I needed to say to her:
” Excuse me lady. But whilst you are sitting there on your backside reading a magazine and whinging to the waitresses about eggs just delivered to your table (which by the way looked great to me) and complaining to me about the tapping of my fingers on the computer in a cafe that always encourages me to use their wifi, I am sitting here using my only 3 toddler free hours for the week typing up and inputting the data for families that are this week about to lose their precious babies and children. Families whose 6 year old will not be there to open Christmas presents this year. Families who requested we turn up at 3 am to take photos of their stillborn babies as these are the only tangible memories they will have. Families who have spent every day for months sitting by a hospital cot only to be told there is no hope. I am tapping away this information and speaking to social workers and midwives here in this cafe because there are no rules about when and where these tragedies take place. The call comes in and I respond. Part of me is angry at you for thinkning that the tapping of computers and runny eggs is so bad that you have to spread your anger and bitterness. The other part of me pities you because the fact you find these things so bad, makes me think there is very little in your life that brings you joy.”
But I didnt say this. I nearly did. But I held my tongue and went back to my tapping.
Maybe she has just had bad news herself. Maybe she had recently been told her mother has cancer. Mayber her partner just lost his job. Maybe she is the grandmother of one of these precious babies I am organising photos for. Maybe not. But maybe.
I guess we never know what is going on in other peoples worlds. We need to remember this. We need to remember to be kind.
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This so true Martine and thanks for sharing. It is tough being graceful under pressure.
Our Minister preached a sermon at church recently in which he told the story of a man on a peak hour train in NYC who watched three children running around and misbehaving in the train carriage while the father sat there and did nothing.
After huffing and puffing with indignation for a period, the man finally snapped and asked the father, “Aren’t you going to do something about your kids?”.
The father just looked at him and replied, “We have just come from hospital where they have just seen their mother die and I don’t know what to do.”
I think I needed to be reminded that everyone has a story and to be kind and gracious and suspend judgment as much as possible.
Oh that is so sad Vanessa. And unfortunately I am sure there are stories like that surrounding us that we often dont imagine. Yes it is hard sometimes to be gracious and suspend judgement. I have had a few people say they still wanted that women to be made aware that she was rude. I guess it often depends on our own moods too that determines how we respond.
I try to remind myself of this often. It is so east to jump to conclusions based on what we see but we don’t know the unseen parts!
There is always so much unseen isn’t there Deb?
It is a great reminder in this busy and selfish world – we should be kind to others as a default setting not automatically judging them. We never know the full story, even with those we are close to. You are doing an amazing job in your volunteer role Martine – being there and providing support to those devastated parents – that would have to be personally very difficult to deal with at times.
I love that idea of being kind as a default setting Kirsty. Thankyou for your kind words x
How awful to be in that situation, but good to make a lesson out of it… we just don’t know, you’re 100% right… and the way people react to us says everything about them and not us… which I need to remember tonight as my wee daughter threw a terrible tantrum and said some appalling things to me tonight… I do feel shaken up and a bit of a mum-fail… but she was tired… regroup, regroup. It’s so bad to be in the situation of being attacked verbally, always best to say nowt.
I’m off soon and all over the place all holidays… so merry Christmas to you and yours and all the best for a happy start to 2014.
Absolutely our moods have a lot to do with it too Seana so we need to be a bit forgiving of that too. Merry Christmas to you to Seana..look forward to more Skype catch ups in the New Year. xx
Such a lovely post and one we all need to hear and read from time to time. It would be all I could do not to snap back, so well done for being the bigger person. Have a lovely Christmas Martine, you deserve it x
It’s so natural and easy for us to default to take that stance of “my rights to…” because we take the it’s all about me philosophy. Always harder to be the person who takes the high road! Like Emily said , well done for being the bigger person.