By Rachel Pastiloff.
When you are out in the world, be it at a restaurant, grocery shopping, driving in traffic, or at the doctor’s office, and you see a child screaming and a mother losing her cool and grabbing that child by the arm and being stern: BE CAREFUL BEFORE YOU JUDGE THEM.
Be careful placing judgment upon others, for you know not what battles they are fighting.
Before you judge me, or anyone. Take a breath. Consider what you might not know. Look inward. Look outward. Whatever it is, realize this: you may never have any idea of someone else’s story, so judging them is a tricky business.
It has been months since my family went out to eat.
We recently went out for a bite at a local, casual restaurant. Very loud, very kid friendly.
Or so we thought.
At the end of the meal, the waitress, who was very sweet, became overwhelmed with her tables. A young man came in and was singing while playing the acoustic guitar, and a very unfriendly table had just sat behind us. Our little one was really struggling, so my husband decided to take him home, and our oldest son refused to leave and stayed with me. He wanted to see the guitar player, but I had to wait for the check.
That was when All Hell Broke Loose.
He started screaming.
The table behind us was in my face, and the large table of young twenty-somethings was looking at me as if they should call DFCS on me for grabbing my son and walking away. My son was screaming at the top of his lungs, and I put my hand over his mouth. At that time, he proceeded to bite my hand, almost breaking the flesh. All the while, the entire restaurant was staring. Let me point out that this hasn’t happened to me in quite some time, and, typically, it doesn’t bother me. This time it did.
As I left the restaurant, I wanted to walk back in and confront the two tables that were staring at me like deer in headlights.
I wanted to say something like this:
It isn’t polite to stare, but since you are, let me break it down for you. This is my five-year-old son. He suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome and autism. Although he may look “normal” to you, I assure you that he is fighting many battles.
Before you judge my behavior regarding how I handled my son, you should know this: I only slept for three hours last night. My son is sick, and when that happens, his behavior becomes almost impossible to handle. My husband and I are in the middle of the most difficult financial time of our lives, and I am dealing with my mystery medical issues that seem to elude my doctors. I am human; I am not a robot. I have one child with PWS and autism and a second with hyper-activity and mood dysfunction disorder.
I may have looked like a crazy woman to you, but you couldn’t imagine what I have been up handling since 4:00 a.m.
As the parent of a special needs child, we are “supposed to stay calm and not lose our cool.”
I do lose my cool on occasion. That night was one of those occasions.
Many people in the world could not walk a day in my shoes. Many people could not even begin to comprehend what a typical day is for me, let alone these days when things are just not going well. Sure, some could. There are those folks out there that get it.
I write this essay not just for myself. I write for my thousands of extended family members. My family of parents, grandparents, and caregivers of those with special needs, I write for them.
I come to you and challenge you to this: When you see a situation like mine taking place, don’t stare. I challenge you instead to offer a hand. Offer your heart and see if that parent or caregiver could use some help. Or a smile.
A smile goes a long way. A smile goes a long way in the heart of a special needs parent in the midst of a crisis with their loved one.
Help me spread the word and please share this blog with all of your friends.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi
Help me be the change.
Rachel Pastiloff is Jen Pastiloff’s sister. She is a mother with 2 young boys, ages 5 and 7 years old, living in Atlanta. In 2009 Rachel’s oldest was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome. The following year her son was diagnosed again with Autism. Both of these events would help shift the direction of Rachel’s life. She began her path with health and wellness to create a better life for her family. It then became her passion. Rachel became a certified yoga teacher in 2012 and is a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Health and Wellness Coach. A life long lover of food and cooking, Rachel helps her clients get back in the kitchen and enjoy it. She is helping people have a new relationship with not only food, but also their personal health and wellness. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org to work with her or visit her site. To book a session with her send her an email. She instagrams at @rachyrachp and can be found on Facebook here. Her next cleanse starts May 25th. Book it here.
All of Jen Pastiloff’s events listed here. Next up: Dallas June 6th and NYC JUky 25th. Tuscany summer retreat booking now. Email email@example.com to sign up.
Very well said.
blessings to you. i have a daughter with major depressive disorder. she is struggling, and although no longer has tantrums in restaurants (she’s 14), she misses a lot of school and can get very angry at us and defiant. i have to remind myself all the time that her anger is from depression and anxiety, not because she’s “bad.” I am tired of mothers of “normal” kids telling me i don’t discipline her enough or whatever advice they give. unless they have a child with these challenges, they should keep quiet…unless to say, “i love you, i support you, i’m here for you, you’re a great parent, you didn’t cause this” etc.
It’s very unfortunate that some people dont’ have the concern or respect about what others go through. I respect all parents for what they do and reading this made me respect you even more.
Don’t take no notice about those people who look at you and judge. There will always be people with a lame negative opinion about other peoples life.
As long as you no you are doing your best and your family is happy that’s all that matters.
A lesson we all need to be reminded of. I can’t imagine what your days are like and I think you are incredible to have handled it as well as you did. Sending you a huge hug.
Keep up the good, hard, sacred, exasperating work, mama. I remember every time that I have been there, and even the remembering is excruciating. Thankfully, those challenging moments are transient. A chance to try again will come before you know it. Sending you and your son love and well-wishes.
So beautiful! Made me cry. Thank you for sharing and here’s a hug:-)