Not all families are made the same way and not all children have the same needs. All this mom wants is for strangers to not judge her.
Every child has different needs and every parent has a different parenting style. To judge people or tell them how to do their job as parents is to cast doubt when we probably are unaware of the context. If we see a child on a leash, most of us might be concerned or disturbed by it, but we don't know what the parent is going through. We don't know if the child dislikes it. When we make snap judgments without knowing the complete picture, it can hurt very real people who are likely undergoing a hard time.
Moms face a lot of shaming by strangers for their choices but it's not necessarily called for. A Detroit mom who likes to use a backpack leash for her adopted son has an interesting reason for doing it, even though she gets side-eyed for it. She took to Facebook to explain why she chooses to do it.
"The 'Karen’s' and 'Susan’s' of the world don’t know that about my child or my ability to parent him. I have a backpack leash for my son. 10 years ago, walking around Disney World, I laughed and cringed at the sight of children on leashes. 'How can they not control their child? I’ll never let my child behave that way' Yes, I was 'Karen' then, but, let's be real, every parent has said that line once or twice BEFORE they had children and ate crow years later," she wrote.
Rachel Butcher had to go through a hysterectomy in December 2017 and after that, she and her husband, Frank, wanted to adopt. Initially, they went to a private adoption agency but then chose to go through the foster system. They went to an orientation with Wellspring Lutheran Services, Rachel writes on Medium. "I had this feeling, this was what I was meant to do. I always battled with the idea of “buying” a baby in a private adoption, this way, I would be helping a baby, a family, whether they came home with us, or were reunited with their family. I just wanted to help and feel like I had a purpose again," she wrote.
Eventually, she received a 5-month-old baby boy, who is Black, while she and her husband are White. They welcomed their baby boy with as much love as they would their biological child. However, the former marathon runner can no longer run fast because of her hysterectomy and which is why she has to use the leash for her son.
The mom wrote on Facebook, that her son was born "drug-addicted," has more energy and speed than the average 21-month-old, and they are unaware of his biological family and their genetics. "So he could be more hyper just from experiences that I don’t know of," she wrote.
"My child runs faster than me. Due to scar tissue from my hysterectomy, I do have trouble running sometimes to keep up with him. Let it also be known, I religiously ran races and ran every day before my surgery. So it’s not a lack of laziness. My child also hates to be confined, whether it’s a car seat, high chair, stroller or shocker, a shopping cart," she said, adding that she prefers to get home delivery but has to step out sometimes.
"I have come home crying because I have left stores before finishing shopping because he is having a meltdown, I also got the snide comments and nasty looks then too.
But today, today was worse. We went to Target and we wore his backpack and he did AMAZING. He was HAPPY, LAUGHING, SMILING, and yes, running, but he was close to me. The looks and side-eye I got from no less than 5 'Karen’s' made me grab my two items and leave. I don’t know why women feel the need to judge and mom shame so often. What works for your child doesn’t necessarily work for mine," the mom said.
She further added that her child wasn't talking yet and there is a communication barrier. "He attends occupational and speech therapy and he is THRIVING. He is such a happy, beautiful little boy with A LOT of energy. I’m not writing this for pity or sympathy, but more of a public service announcement to kids with leashes. My son does not have a disability, he is a runner. My neighbors know he is a runner, so much so that they chase after him too," she said, concluding, "It takes a village to raise a kid and my village rocks."