'It wasn't her business': mum shamed by woman in supermarket carpark

Image/Sophie Skipper
Image/Sophie Skipper  

A mum who was shamed for briefly leaving her son while returning her trolley at the supermarket has hit back at the "Susan" who accused her of "negligence".

In a viral Instagram post, Tasmanian mum Sophie Skipper who blogs at The Mummalogue writes, "Had my first run in with a 'Susan' today. You know, the woman who knows everything and is never afraid to tell you in the most direct and degrading way? Especially when it comes to motherhood."

Ms Skipper, mum to two-year-old Emmett, continues, "Well she was at Woolies today! And no she didn't see my toddler have a good old cry and scream over which trolley we took .... Because Lord knows she would have had a word or 2000 to say."

Instead, the woman witnessed the mum close her car door with her son inside it.

"I was walking from my car to the trolley bay which was a mere two car spots over from my parked car. Child strapped in safely, happily watching Bluey, window half down and keys in my pocket nowhere near the ignition."


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Ms Skipper recalls that the woman scoffed at her "negligence", noting it was "so typical of new young mums to do what makes them comfortable and not what is best for the child overall."

Speaking to Essential Baby, Ms Skipper said she thought the woman was joking at first.

"Having a fairly dry sense of humour myself I genuinely welcome sarcasm freely. But when the expected laughs were replaced by a glare and pursed lips ... I realised this was it. My first experience with a 'Susan.' I realised her issue was with my son being strapped into he car seat while I took eight steps back to return the trolley to its bay (like any good person would, so I thought)."


And the mental health advocate was furious.

"There was a little bit of 'friendly' back and forth then to point out all the obvious facts of it being a trolley return dash and not a bloody three mile hitchhike," Ms Skipper wrote in her post.

"And finally, that although it wasn't her business, if she really felt that concerned on the situation, to properly assess it all first and maybe don't speak so horrendously about another human being while doing so?"


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Her words went viral, inviting others to share their own stories of being judged while parenting. 

"My heart broke learning what other parents have been through and the relentless shame from passersby," Ms Skipper told Essential Baby.

"One mother even explained how the police were called on her in a very similar situation as she stepped to the front door of her eldest child's daycare while her other child was securely strapped into the car seat still, a mere three metres away."

The mum added that while she has been fortunate to begin her own motherhood journey with support and love, "when I hear of the 'mum-shaming' and external judgement jabbed at others doing the very best they can, it baffles me.

"Parenting is such a hard gig as it is, without the added stress of nosy onlookers, agonising over which decision will cause the least amount of guilt and trying to dodge judgement constantly. When did people think it was OK to comment so harshly on other people's lives?"

But while Ms Skipper received an outpouring of support from others online, the mum said her post also unleashed more trolls.

"My supportive parenting bubble was unexpectedly burst by one guy commenting that perhaps she had a point and perhaps I should have been carrying my son instead, and perhaps it would have been worse if heaven forbid something happened to me on my trolley return walk like fainting and others not knowing my child was in the car to be tended to in my absence too."


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Others, however, leapt to her defence. 

"Out of something negative I chose to look at the beauty that these strangers who didn't know me but understand part of my story, were willing to support and defend me."  The post also taught her a key lesson: "Despite how different we are as parents and how unique our children are, we do all face similar struggles each day."

Ms Skipper laughs that she also unleashed the Susans - the real Susans.  "I had an extensive amount of UK readers (called Susan) inform me that they're called 'Karens' over there, and some were offended by that," she said. 

The mum has a message for others struggling in a world of judgement - and guilt. 

"Confidence these days as a parent is doing the best you can, and reminding yourself of it," she says.  "As much as we rallied together to swap Susan stories and reiterate how wrong she was, we all still go to bed at night rethinking the scenario and questioning ourselves even just a little bit. Because we do want to be and do the best for our kids.

"That's all any parent wants."


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