I was eight months pregnant with my third child, exhausted, hurting, and really just craving some tacos despite the heartburn I knew would follow. So following a Sunday church service, my mom and I took my 18-month-old twins to a restaurant that was a little slice of pregnancy heaven.
When we were seated, we were in a crowded section and directly beside some college-aged students who prayed before their meals. So here I’m thinking, hopefully they are gracious and kind about my little ones. (A thought no mother should ever have to think in a restaurant with a kids menu, I might add.)
Despite the mess made from my children, which already made me feel uneasy, they were fabulous. Sure, they were playing with the sugar packets and trying to grab the salt and pepper. But as a former-waitress myself, I knew they weren’t being catastrophic.
Truth be told, it was the first time my twins had ever sat still-ish in a restaurant, eaten their food, and let Mommy and Nana eat their meal too. (Somebody raise a shout with a HALLELUJAH!)
We were about halfway through our meal when I spotted my mom giving the stink-eye to the holy-rollers less than three feet away from us. Knowing my mother all too well, I asked, “Are they giving us a hard time about the kids?”
“Well, THAT ONE keeps looking over here and giving us dirty looks,” my mom replied.
So, naturally, this hugely pregnant Mama Bear turned my head and glared right back at them. (Staring into someone’s soul with “the look” is kind of my mom superpower.) As if to say, “Please, bitches, say something before I’ve had a chance to finish this arroz con pollo I’ve been salivating for. I triple dog dare you.”
Their heads turned right back around into place upon noticing me. Thank. Goodness. We finished our meals and my mom started to take the kids out to the car while I waited around to clean up sugar packets and pay the bill.
And as soon as I was alone, I felt them glaring at me… again. Finally, I spoke up in a rather irritated manner, “Do you have a problem or something? You’re going to break your neck with the way you keep jerking it backwards to stare at me.”
The youngest one boldly replied, growing softer in tone with each word, “Yeah… that’s a really big mess,” and then turned back around.
Truth be told, I was soooo happy she told me it was a mess. Because as I was mid-Braxton Hicks, on my hands and knees picking up sugar packets to make the waitstaff’s lives easier, I guess I couldn’t see the “really big mess” I was already cleaning. Captain Obvious deserved a round of applause for bringing to my attention what I was too negligent to notice, apparently.
In this moment, where I could feel my face getting hot and my blood starting to boil, the only thought that came to me, which not-so-accidentally came out loud in a somewhat-condescending tone was, “Thank you. I hadn’t noticed. But I did notice that you’re quite the little bitch, aren’t you?” (Super heavy emphasis on the word “BITCH,” because I couldn’t help my hormonal self.)
Cue: Big sister standing up to get rough and tough with me.
“DON’T YOU DARE SPEAK TO MY SISTER LIKE THAT! I’m a waitress and your kids’ mess is ridiculous!” she screamed while pointing fingers and looking to the other tables to join in.
At this point, I’m actually laughing out loud, probably sounding like a bit of a maniac, while I’m still hunched over and cleaning up my kids’ messes from under their highchairs. They’re not going to walk away from this feeling justified, I thought to myself. I wobbled to a stand with my pregnant self, stood up straight and calmed myself as I inched closer toward her.
This, I realized, being the first time their table could even noticeably see my pregnant belly. Her eyes began to widen to match the fire that was in mine.
“It just so happens, I’m a waitress too. A kinder one than you, obviously. My husband’s family owns multiple restaurants in this city. Not that it’s your concern, but this mess isn’t a problem. You are,” I spoke to her inches from her face without blinking.
Mind you, we were in close quarters with all of our neighboring tables. All of which stopped eating to see what was going down. Seeing as most of them had children, and we were in a family restaurant, this Karen was vastly outnumbered.
I can’t remember what she hollered back at me, but I do remember bringing up how incredibly peculiar it was to see someone bowing their head in prayer before a meal, only to raise their voice to a pregnant stranger after said meal. Let’s just say, she didn’t like me calling her on her own bullshit.
She was losing, so she circled back to her first point, “Well, don’t talk to my sister like that, or else…”
I’m still audibly laughing, as I truly can’t believe she is really going there with someone who is eight months pregnant, desperate for a meal I didn’t have to cook. I looked around the dining area to everyone staring at us, eyeballed her once more, pointed to my protruding belly and asked, “Or else, what? What are you insinuating you’ll do to me, dear?”
At this point, a father with a toddler and two other children stood up. The entire dining area was stunned, and it was then she noticed that she’d crossed a major line. She stood there, flabbergasted, sulking in silence for a minute before giving up and stuttering to her friends, “L-l-let’s just go, guys!”
As they were leaving, the other tables were presenting her with the ugliest snarls they could fathom. Man, that felt good to see. I apologized to everyone around me all at once for the ruckus they had to witness during their family meals. Thankfully, I was kindly hushed with words like, “Don’t be sorry, honey.”
I assume they could tell I was distressed.
If I could go back, I’d like to tell this waitress, the one who’s sooo courteous of fellow servers, obviously, that I noticed she left a less-than-generous tip for her server. Being the mom that I am, no worries, I took care of that for her too. And as I was finishing what I’d started — you know, cleaning up the sugar packets — our waiter came to me, took me by the hand and said, “Don’t do that! I’ve got this. It’s no big deal. Really.”
My two cents is this: if you can’t tolerate children in a public dining establishment that’s family-friendly, go to a bar (or at least somewhere without a kid’s menu), or risk running into a mama bear who is more than willing to absolutely tear you to shreds for your unwarranted judgment.