It was one of the those days. By 8:30, I reported to hubby that it was going to be the longest.day.ever. By 9:30, my children had destroyed the baby's room (where all of their toys currently reside). By 10:30, I was exhausted from sorting tiny little game pieces my two-year-old was strewing across the living room. By 11:30, we had to go. OUT!
So we went. Out for lunch.
My kids are no strangers to restaurants, they've all been eating out since they were born. And it's not unusual for me to stop for lunch when out running around with the kids, even when I'm by myself. Usually we stop at a fast service restaurant (our favorites are Panera and Chipotle) but it's not unheard of that I'll take them to a sit down place.
And that's exactly where we ended up that day, a local deli-restaurant that I really like. I walked up to the hostess stand with my big belly and three little ones. My girls stood patiently in front of me and my son clung to my leg. Both couples in front of us commented on how adorable the kids are and a woman leaving said "no wonder you're having another, they're beautiful!"
But the demeanor changed as we were walked to our table. People started staring, unimpressed faces, talking in hushed tones. As we approached our table next to the wait staff station, a waitress there actually said "are you kidding me?" as we walked up.
I know what it all means, I've experienced it before, in restaurants, on airplanes, in stores. People think: a mom with three small kids, on her own (though even when out with hubby we get the same reaction), there goes my quiet lunch!
But before you judge me and my decision to actually bring my children out in public, give me a minute. Let me set the kids down. Wait until you see how nicely they read their menus, choose their meals and even order for themselves. Watch as they color quietly while we wait for our food to be prepared, even the two-year-old. Listen as the only noise you hear is polite conversation and maybe a little laughing as we, too, enjoy a nice lunch.
Because my children are not the loud, obnoxious ones you might expect. Because my children have been taught how to act in restaurants. Because if my children couldn't behave, they wouldn't be there.
Trust that I, their mother, trust and expect them to behave. Know that if they don't, it will be handled because much like you, I don't particularly like screaming, rowdy, unruly children either. Especially when they're mine!
So before you judge me and make assumptions about my family, give me the opportunity to prove your pre-conceived notions wrong. Let me show you that young children can behave. Let me change your mind about my kids and maybe any other families you may encounter in the future. Let me do my job as their mother.
And let them show you how children can behave. Let them prove to you that young children can and do have a place in our world. Before you judge them, give them a minute to surprise you!
This post was previously published on Beyond Mommying along with all my other parenting adventures.