'Stranger' at the Park Approached This Mum About Sunscreen & the Experience Is a Reminder New Parents Need
"Ask for love. Ask for anything. Even though we are strangers, please ask me. It’s not easy being responsible for little humans but it’s easier if we help each other out. We’re all in this together."
It’s the greatest irony of the social media age: With each new day, we become increasingly connected and yet further and further distanced from one another. We no longer talk on the phone (and I mean actually talk), our kids don’t play outside together for long stretches at a time, and we’re far more wary of strangers than ever before. We’re also petrified of getting judged — for just about anything but especially for parenting. That’s something Shelby Beck knows all too well. In fact, a recent exchange with another mum at the park weighed on her so heavily, she took to Facebook to get a little something off her chest — and now, it’s going viral.
On August 20, Beck took her daughter London, who turns 1 next month, to a local park in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
There, the two sat in the grass reading stories, as Beck noticed another mum nearby. She was playing catch with her toddler while gently rocking her newborn back and forth.
They didn’t exchange glances or even a wave, but nothing about that was out of the ordinary. In fact, on a typical day, each mum would have spent their time in the park and gone their separate ways without even a word being shared between them.
But today was not that day.
“A while later, I glanced up to see her approach me,” Beck recalled in her post. “She shrugged her shoulders and quietly said ‘I’m embarrassed to even ask, but do you happen to have sunscreen we can use?'”
It wasn’t so much the mum’s request but rather the way she asked it that stopped Beck right in her tracks.
The mum said it, Beck later shared, “as if she was somehow ashamed that she forgot to pack sunscreen today.”
Yep. That sounds about right.
Ask any mum in 2019 if she’s felt a heap of judgment for her parenting choices, decisions, and foibles — however minor — and you’ll likely get an earful. We silently judge mums whether they breastfeed in public or formula feed; we judge them if they work or they stay home; and yes, we even judge them if they forget to slather their kids in sunscreen on a sunny day or at least toss it in their diaper bag.
It was precisely this internal side-eye that the mum was fearing she’d get when she sheepishly approached Beck. But little did she know, the Wisconsin mum was probably the last person to judge her.
“Many mamas feel a sense of ‘duty’ to just be able to handle whatever is thrown at us, without showing weakness,” Beck tells CafeMom.
Beck says there was something about the moment that stayed with her, long after she left the park. And so, with tears in her eyes, she wrote about it.
In just days, her post has shot to viral fame, with over 286K shares since she wrote it on August 20.