The words, thrown out quickly, have stayed with me. It was such a short interaction, but I keep coming back to it.

I was in a public washroom, and a mum was changing her little one, and the diaper wipes were frozen. I pried a few out of the container and defrosted them under running water before handing them to her.

You must be a mum. That’s a mum idea.

I looked at her. Turned my head to the side.

It was so far from the truth. So far from the truth that it was almost laughable. Me, with the kitchen in disarray, no decorating done for Christmas. Me with nary a cooky baked, me wrapping Christmas gifts under duress.

Me with a dead child perched over a metaphorical left shoulder.

Being practical and helpful is motherhood now? I always thought it was adulthood. I always thought it was a thing I did as a caring human.

Please, don’t misunderstand, I’m not angry. This isn’t some ranting screed. It’s not even an outraged PSA, demanding that no one ever say this to a woman, lest they hurt her feelings.

This other woman, with the smiling baby and the frozen diaper wipes, she didn’t know me from Adam (Or, I guess, Eve). She had no idea of my history, and I’m sorry, but I don’t see how blaming her for an off hand comment does anything for anyone.

It actually didn’t hurt me – although I can see how 5 years ago, it would have left me gasping on the floor.

I had thought I would write something meaningful about those words. I had thought I would spin a story, make a point. In the end, I haven’t done this. I’ve stared at this screen all the live long day.

It’s just, that simple remark stayed with me.

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4 Responses to Words

  1. Lisa says:

    It’s hard to not reflect on comments like this. It’s hard to not be stopped in your tracks when people make comments so nonchalantly. But it says a lot about you that such comments no longer hurt you. It would have hurt me.

  2. a says:

    Mischaracterizations always bother me – no matter how innocuous they are. Not offend, just bother.

  3. Jana says:

    But you are a Mum…

  4. Maureen says:

    Incongruent comments always make me stop.

    I think our society sometimes links certain behaviors or traits with professions (including motherhood). I’ve regularly heard “I can tell your a teacher” and “You must be a mom” (or the occasionally ‘if I didn’t know you aren’t, I would say you are a teacher/mom’) comments since I was in my late teens after I do certain acts. I’m not a traditional ‘teacher’ in a school, although I do teach people. The mom comments happened long before I was a mom. Each incident usually was just me doing something naturally. I always thought “Huh? Wouldn’t everyone have that reaction?” It makes me wonder about how others would react and what common sense really is.

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