Parenting

Stranger in Target Ridicules Mom—So She Posts a Viral Confession About Her “Spoiled Baby”

It seems friends, family and strangers alike are always more than willing to offer (or force-feed) their two cents when it comes to how to raise your child. No mother nor parenting style is perfect, but if you’re looking for someone to tell you how to do it better, you’ll never have to look too far.

For Kelly Dirkes, she’s used to people telling her that she spoils her baby. It’s been a pretty common thread for her throughout her experience in raising her daughter, but when one woman approached her in Target to reiterate that opinion, she decided it was about time to reveal exactly why.

In a heartfelt post to the “woman in Target,” Kelly details her daughter’s heartbreaking past in an orphanage that led her to care for her baby in a way that many perceive as “spoiling.” By the end of the post, she drives home an eye-opening reality about her child that rings true for mothers everywhere. It’s so easy for us to point the finger per our own perceptions on parenting, but when it comes down to it, we really don’t have the right to judge when we don’t understand someone’s personal situation. Sometimes, if we would just take a moment to peel back the layers of someone’s story before laying on judgment, we’d see the truth that our biases have blinded us to.

Her post reads:

Dear Woman in Target—

I’ve heard it before, you know. That I “spoil that baby.” You were convinced that she’d never learn to be “independent.” I smiled at you, kissed her head and continued my shopping.

If you only knew what I know.

If you only knew how she spent the first 10 months of her life utterly alone inside a sterile metal crib, with nothing to comfort her other than sucking her fingers.

If you only knew what her face looked like the moment her orphanage caregiver handed her to me to cradle for the very first time — fleeting moments of serenity commingled with sheer terror. No one had ever held her that way before, and she had no idea what she was supposed to do.

If you only knew that she would lay in her crib after waking and never cry — because up until now, no one would respond.

If you only knew that anxiety was a standard part of her day, along with banging her head on her crib rails and rocking herself for sensory input and comfort.

If you only knew that that baby in the carrier is heartbreakingly “independent” — and how we will spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years trying to override the part of her brain that screams “trauma” and “not safe.”

If you only knew what I know.

If you only knew that that baby now whimpers when she’s put down instead of when she is picked up.

If you only knew that that baby “sings” at the top of her lungs in the mornings and after her nap, because she knows that her chatter will bring someone to lift her out of her crib and change her diaper.

If you only knew that that baby rocks to sleep in her Mama’s or her Papa’s arms instead of rocking herself.

If you only knew that that baby made everyone cry the day she reached out for comfort, totally unprompted.

If you only knew what I know.

“Spoiling that baby” is the most important job I will ever have, and it is a privilege. I will carry her for a little while longer — or as long as she’ll let me — because she is learning that she is safe. That she belongs. That she is loved.

If you only knew…

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Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.

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