We have all done it. We have all watched someone who is “different” from us. Maybe it was that boy in the wheelchair. Maybe it was the girl who kept her eyes to the floor and spoke only to herself. Maybe it was that woman sitting in the doorway with only a blanket and a thin coat. Maybe it is that family that is struggling to just get by at that exact moment. Maybe it is that child throwing a fit in the grocery store.
You think you are doing no harm. That your stares, your whispers, and your finger points go unnoticed. That they are harmless. What you don’t realize is that someone sees you. Someone feels those stares and hears those whispers.
Today I am honored to share with you a post from my dear friend Jessica from Four Plus an Angel. Jessica has felt those stabs, and wrote this beautiful piece to remind us that those stares, those whispers, and those finger-points are painful and that they make more of an impact than you realize.
Her hair is coarse and thick, dark brown and wavy.
My own is thin and fine, blonde with roots I’m trying to hide.
She has never worn a drop of makeup and is broad-shouldered.
I spackle my dark circles daily and am sometimes told I could be knocked over by a gust of wind.
I am her mom, but you didn’t notice.
I was in her classroom when you didn’t ask her to play.
I was in front of her a bit when you whispered to your friend to look at her as she stomped her feet.
I was behind her two steps when you looked back because you hadn’t stared enough.
I was far enough away that you didn’t realize we were together when you ran over to your co-worker to gossip about her staring and turning in circles.
She doesn’t know you said a word or did a thing, not a single one of you. In fact, she probably doesn’t see a difference between any of you and herself. If she did it might be the color of your shirt and she would tell you she liked it.
And I hope you would be embarrassed if she did. I hope her kindness and complete naiveté makes you feel ashamed of your stares and your words and your eye rolls.
We have done this for 18 years. For 18 years I have been next to, in front of, behind, deflecting ignorance with a silent evil eye that I hope gives off my intolerance for your behavior.
She may have never noticed but I always have. It may have bounced off of her but it has seeped into me.
At some point you decided that it doesn’t matter, that your right to stare or make a comment was more important than her right to be herself.
But you could not be more wrong. It does matter and the ripple of your actions hits mothers like me every single day.
She is someone’s child. She is mine. You might have thought no one was looking but someone was.
I haven’t missed a thing, but I wish I had.