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Dear Stranger, It’s been over 20 years and I can still remember you

Dear Stranger,

It’s been over 20 years and I can still remember you and the way your eyes looked me up and down and the words that left your mouth that day. 

‘Disgusting, you are a drain on the system, shame on you’ and with that you walked on by.

What did I do? I was standing there at 17 years old holding my baby son. What did you know about me? How did you know I was on benefits or a drain on anyone? 

I look at my baby boy now and can’t imagine him being a parent at such a young age. Did you not consider that perhaps that young girl could have really benefitted from a nice comment about her baby or just a reassuring smile? Did you not consider the impact your words would have? Did it make you feel better to cause such upset?

Maybe it would have been different had you known that I had walked around town for hours that day soothing my teething baby. I didn’t have much money but I did have a job. I was going from supermarket to supermarket buying the latest offers. My son had plenty of love and no, he wasn’t dragged up. I am a great mother.

You will be pleased to know that I had another child at 19 and then went to University where I graduated with a BA degree and won an award for outstanding achievement. I have volunteered and helped young, vulnerable mothers find their way back into education and have paid back into a system that did help and support me. I work 60 hours a week in a job I love and support other parents as much as I can regardless of age.

Your words have not inspired me to be the best I can be. My children do that everyday.

I hope no one makes you feel the way you made me feel that day especially as you enter into old age. I hope the bitterness that left your mouth has gone and more than anything, I wish I had opened my mouth and replied to you that day.

Anon.

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Dear Stranger, It hasn’t been easy trying to breastfeed my son.