I heard you

Dear Mom behind me in the check out line at the grocery store,

I heard you.

I didn’t acknowledge you, but I heard you.

I heard you judging my purchases as you watched them slide down the checkout conveyor belt toward the scanner.  First I saw you size up what I had there, then I heard you actually remark about them to your husband as if I wasn’t standing right there.

While your 3rd or 4th grade son walked between the belt and me a thousand times to go look at the Redbox machine, the candy machines, and anything else, never once saying “excuse me.”  While you tapped your foot annoyed that you were behind someone who was getting a week’s worth of groceries instead of just the case of beer and ground beef that you had.

I heard what you said to your husband as you saw the Similac, the toddler meals, and the jelly and bread all next to five huge bags of candy.  I heard your comment about the two 2-liters of soda and the absence of milk.

You were loud enough, don’t worry.  I heard you comment about the way I “clearly have a baby” and must be feeding my children “junk”.

I tried hard not to turn around and get in your face as your son passed between me and my cart while I was trying to re-load it with full bags for the umpteenth time, bumping my cart as he wiggled past.

The checkout lady was chatting politely and cheerfully to me about the promise of sunshine and warm weather this week and I refused to break the positivity to tell you that the candy and soda were for a first birthday party next week.  That it’s a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme because we fell in love with the name Charlie after watching a performance of Willy Wonka by the theater company at the high school where I work.  That we don’t need milk and fruit because we have a huge stock of those things at home along with eggs that came from free-range chickens that a fellow teacher raises on his own farm.

Lady, you do not have to worry about my children.  I am trying to take your snotty attitude as general concern for my children’s well-being based solely on grocery items of a woman you never met.  I’d like to think that the {loud} judging you were doing to your husband about me was out of deep concern and love for all children.  But I am not that naive.

I wonder what you dislike about your own parenting skills that makes you feel like you need to judge me based on a few bags of candy?

As annoyed as your kid made me with his cutting in and out of the checkout line without nary a “sorry” as he bumped my cart, I figured he’s a kid. I wanted to tell him to please choose in or out, but I figured that was your job. It’s not like he was being dangerous, just annoying.

Yet you–with your beer and ground beef–stood judging me.

By the way, I didn’t judge your beer and ground beef.  Your child looked wonderfully healthy. I’ve bought just those items before too.

I would hate for people to assume I only feed my children burgers and beer based on that one grocery transaction.  I wonder why you assume that I only feed my children candy and soda?

Anyway, I did hear you.

Even though I chose not to acknowledge you.

You really should stop picking other people apart…especially other mothers. I am doing the best I can, just like I assume you are doing the best you can too.

The Lady with the Pop and Candy

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. Well written and well done holding your tongue …
    Sad the judginess of other people in the same trenches … I hope your party is fabulous and love the idea and where it came from.

  2. Wow. Just wow. Mothers who judge other mothers – it makes me sad.
    I’m glad you kept your cool. Rise above all that crap. Good for you.

  3. I always have to push aside that feeling of being judged at the grocery store. We get most of our fruits and veggies from a local farm, so I usually put very few fruits and vegetables in my cart at the grocery store. But I cannot believe someone had the nerve to make those comments out loud behind you.

    I hope the birthday party goes off without a hitch!

  4. OMG. thought I was the only one who’s felt judged in the checkout lane! Sometimes it’s not just the food though, we’ll often still have them bag things up using plastic (instead of bringing our reusable ones). I just love how you handled everything. Been there lady. xoxo

  5. Oh hon. I hate this part of our society. About all the judging. And not really knowing. xoxo

  6. Good for you for not getting in her face. Unfortunately, the judgy pants are like yoga pants – some people never take them off.

  7. Here here. People only do that to make themselves feel better. It is SO much easier to try to put other people down, INCORRECTLY usually as was the case here, than to build themselves up through positive things. Sad for them. Be glad you didn’t engage her, it would have only added more stress.

  8. I always feel like I am being judged at the grocery store. Especially the trips when we don’t need milk or fruits because we have a ton at home. But we need the goldfish and teddy grahams. That and we shop at two stores, one where we get our meat the other we get more of our pantry items.
    I hate that mothers feel the need to judge each other and one up each other. We are all in this together. All trying to do the best that we can.

  9. I love Jenni’s comment about judgy-pants!

    So much truth. I am sorry someone was rude that way and ugh, ridiculous. I can honestly say I don’t give a whoop about what anyone is purchasing except for myself! And even then … 😉

    Seriously, high horses are not meant for riding, people. Step off.

  10. That is so obnoxious. It is one thing to have those thoughts and silently judge. But to make comments, knowing the person can hear? I feel sorry for people like that. Clearly, there is something significant lacking in that woman’s life that she feels the need to behave that way. Kudos to you for not responding. I know it would have been hard for me not to rip into her.

  11. Mamaintheburbs says

    I would of had no patience for that little boy! And I would as a parent, made sure he wasn’t getting in your way.

    The talking and whispering behind your back is just sad and ridiculous. I feel bad for that woman bc she must be so insecure about her own parenting skills that she has to pick apart others! Glad you ignored her! I think I would of went off! Good for you!

  12. I’m NOT judging you or the way you handled an obnoxious situation (graciously!) But I do wonder what would have happened if you HAD responded–not angrily, but pleasantly, saying that you had heard her comments and wanted to reassure her since she was obviously concerned about the well-being of your kids. Maybe she might not be so quick to judge (at least out loud!) another time. Or maybe not. ;-p Either way, this post is a great reminder that we really know very little about anyone else just from witnessing a very small part of their story.

  13. Wow – what a bitch.

    I’d have said something (provided it wasn’t me that was being talked about – as a third party, I’d have said something . . . had it been me the person was talking about, I have sat and seethed)

  14. What a snotty beeeaaatch. But you handled it PERFECTLY! So proud of you! I’m beginning to wonder if the Mommy Wars will ever end? Will other people ever get it and just shut up? Sheesh.


  15. Why is there no like button? I’d click it over and over LOL. So many times I’ve been judged in line for the items I buy (all generic) or by my clothing/shoes/lack of primping time in front of a mirror – and always by the snobs who wear the fanciest clothing, who dress their children in the fanciest clothing, the mom wearing perfume (that causes my asthmatic daughter to grab her inhaler within just a few minutes of leaving the grocery store) and with perfect nails and hair. Very well said!

  16. I wouldn’t have kept my mouth shut.

    Also, I’ve never noticed what people have in their carts. I’m too busy pretending I’m on vacation while reading US Weekly. But I did wonder, once, what people thought about me when I was buying four bottles of vodka while with my kids. Just the vodka. I wanted to put a sign on my back that said, “I’m making homemade vanilla for Christmas presents!!”

    They probably wouldn’t have believed me.

  17. Wow. I can’t believer she was audibly commenting on what was in your cart. You have more restraint than I would have.

  18. Sigh. I don’t know what to say about this. Isn’t variety the whole point of a grocery store? A little of this and a little of that? If not for the formula – she would have said nothing. That pisses me off.

  19. Oh yeah, people judge and judge on what you buy, how you pay for it, if you have to put something back, which I have to constantly. I don’t know why people feel the need to judge others.

  20. This is a HUGE trigger for me! A friend on food stamps (long ago) decided that once, just once, she’d splurge and buy some ice cream with her other items. The lady behind her line did exactly the same thing as the lady you described.

    I’ve felt this myself many times as the mother of a child with special needs. INVISIBLE needs. My daughter is incredibly charming, yet she is also perfectly capable of throwing a chair at her teacher’s head or making false accusations aimed at her principal. But people don’t see that when we’re in public. They see me keeping her close and nipping her bad behavior in the bud even though she wasn’t doing anything THAT terrible (yet.) Even worse, my daughter knows that people react this way and plays up the “poor beleaguered urchin” role with finesse.

  21. Folks, in general, tend to be superficial and shallow and the tendency isn’t exactly discouraged by social media. 🙂

    Years ago I worked for a service manager who, at least once a day, would throw his hands in the air and exclaim “People are fruit”, by which he meant unreasonable, weird and unpredictable. The expression has stayed with me ever since. People are, indeed, fruit. 🙂

  22. I will never understand people thinking they know the whole story of someone’s life based on a two-minute impression. Or a 20-year friendship, for that matter. You, literally, never know everything that is happening to/with/at a person.

  23. You have far more patience than I would have. With her loud mouth and her children. I’m particularly annoyed when a parent doesn’t use such a scenario to explain to their kids about being polite and respectful.
    Oh wait, evidently someone forgot to teach her.

  24. I think what irks me most is the purposeful way in which some mothers will make sure the mother they are judging hears them. I, as I’m sure you can tell by now, have difficulty holding my tongue and likely would have fallen victim to responding. I am proud of you for not allowing her to dampen your spirit (even though where were her healthful choices for her kid?) YOU knew why you had what you did. YOU knew what you have at home. So yeah, some people are just assholes and we can’t explain them better than that. There is a part of her, for sure, that is lacking and she is aware of, and probably embarrassed by, that deficiency.

    I would hate to think, like you said, that someone is judging me based on one grocery run. Because right now? I am in the throes of wicked PMS and alls I wants is Skittles, Pepsi, and pie. Where the hell is the Cool Whip that is not sugar free? And when I place these items on the belt with my tampons and gum and someone looks at me like that woman did you, then maybe has the audacity to comment? DON’T NOBODY CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK, LADY WHO DOES. NOT. KNOW. ME.

  25. Ugh, sorry you had that experience. Good for you for not engaging her, but engaging us in the blogosphere! Yes!

  26. I remember once when my children were very little i had to run out to the store to get something I needed to make dinner with. While in the store my toddler decided that he was hungry and he wanted to eat now so we tried to hurry out of the store and get to the taco bell across the parking lot (I didn’t want to make him wait any longer). He was crying while we were in the check-out line and a woman walked by and told us to shut that f’n child up and she wish’s welfare recipients would shop at a different store (I wasn’t on welfare). I was floored. Let me say you have self control, I on the other hand put the fear of god into that woman.

  27. I once had a woman yell loudly in alarm that Ryan was sunburnt at a baseball game. Like “Ohhhh Noooo! Look at that poor baby! He’s SO burnt!” Everyone around us was staring at us. Uh, no, he’s just fair skinned like me and turns pink when he’s warm. She didn’t see how I’d slathered him in sunscreen every 20 minutes or how I was giving him tons of water to drink to keep him hydrated.

    I’ve got to assume that people like this are so stressed out in some aspect of their life that it relieves the pressure off of themselves for a moment to look for something to judge in others. It’s sad, really. I’m sorry she was so rude to you.

  28. just wanted to pop over and give you some more love, kate! don’t let any of that get you down. i can’t wait to see what kind of candy you bought for your willy wonka party, and i wish we could be there to see sweet charlie turn 1!! xoxo

  29. Ugh. You’re better than me. I always feel judged by the cute moms with their little girls in cute braids and dresses while my wild woman is in sweats and her curly hair is a mess.

  30. i CANNOT believe you didn’t say anything. you are a better man than i.

  31. Oh no see I WOULD have said something. I figure if you are gonna be rude as hell don’t be surprised when someone fires back.. but that is me..

  32. ARGH. I’m so sorry this happened because I hate that feeling of being judged even if I’m doing everything to ignore and rise above it. Good for you for keeping your head up and turning the other cheek.

  33. Listen homegirl. That lady was a fuckwad (can I use that word on your site? I know you don’t like to cuss on here)… but she was. And bless your golden heart for not saying anything. Because my anxiety/depression/justlackoftoleranceforalloftheassholesintheworld would have caused me to turn around and cuss her out.

    You’re a great mom. Because I said so.

  34. People are cruel! Just cruel.

  35. I’m not even lying…
    I would have stabbed her in the jugular with a Snicker’s Bar wrapper.
    I really don’t have anything to say sweets except that you are a good mom and soda is delicious. xo

  36. Damn judgy people….

    Next time stand in the check out line with me and we can compare the crappy things that we’re going to feed our kids this week.

  37. WTF??? Sometimes I really hate people. Sorry this happened. I always have pop and candy on the belt 🙂

  38. Good for you for taking the high road. As I said in my post about judgy people last week, if we all give each other the benefit of the doubt, the world would be a much better place.

  39. Ugh… another story about mother judging another mother. I hate this but mostly it breaks my heart, Some people should keep their big fat mouths SHUT! Tight.

  40. This is a wonderful post! It highlights how judgemental people can be. It’s easy to judge when you don’t know all the facts! I’ve reached that point in my life now that I WOULD say something to the person critiquing my grocery purchases. My remark would be, “Unless you’re paying for my groceries, you don’t get a say in what I buy.” Or maybe something about them waiting until I leave the store to remark on what I’ve bought. It’s human nature to look and judge others. It’s a whole other thing to do it out loud in front of others and act like it’s your RIGHT to do so. Bravo to you for keeping your cool. No doubt speaking to this woman would have done no good anyway! People don’t learn, she would’ve just found something else to comment on.


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