So yesterday I got a call from a girlfriend , she wanted to go shopping for some new work clothes and she wanted my company. It's funny how such a small gesture like a phone call " hey lets go do something" can really make you feel good. It's nice. So we head to the mall with her two small children. During the course of the afternoon I watched her do her "mommy" thing.
There were times she struggled , they are young and they are girls and I often thing in my experience that girls can be more demanding than boys. It's nature I think. There were moments where she struggled as I said but even in those moments she was and is such a good mom. I think sometimes she doesn't think so and she fears others might feel she lacks in the mom department. I think its a very real fear we all have as mothers and sometimes I think as mothers we can look at other moms as less than if they don't "do" what we do.
Let me tell you what I saw. I saw a mom desprately trying to find clothes while keeping two tired girls engaged and quiet. In everything she did she thought of them first. She got them sweets from a machine before they even asked. She just thought it would be nice for them. It's amazing how a few Runts can work magic on tots. She watched where she put her stroller, never too far from her. When she ordered food she thought of them first. She cut up a corndog in small pieces so that her 1 yr daughter wouldn't choke. She patiently let the child hold the half of a corndog still intact when her loving gesture of cutting it up went unappreciated. She walked the opposite way she wanted to go so her other daughter could use the bathroom. She did all of this because thats what moms do but let's ask ourselves one question. WHY? Why not leave them with a babysitter? Why not give yourself some peace?
My daughter babysitts for her children everyday. She could have left her with MTA but she didn't. I even offered to let her bring her girls over while we went to the mall and this is what she said to me. " Well I wanted to bring them because I have been gone a lot lately ( She has to work since her hubby is under employed right now) . I know they would be unhappy if I left so soon after getting home from work. Plus I want to spend time with them" Simple reasons but they speak volumes as to who she is and what kind of mom she is.
Iv'e done my fair share of outings with my kids and for years every grocery trip , doctors appointment, anything. They went. I remember always feeling overwhelmed and less than as a mother. To watch her yesterday brought back so much of those memories but in a way I didn't expect. I didn't remember how hard it was, or the tantrums or how inconvenient it was to nurse a baby mid shopping trip in a hideaway bathroom of a mall. I didn't recall how stressful it was to tote 4 or 5 kids around as we looked for shoes or backpacks. I didn't recall how it made me want to cry at the end of shopping trips because they wore me out so badly.
What I recalled was this. Walker TR even as a baby had the most infectious laugh( he still does) People would leave their check out lanes to come find the laughing baby. I recalled how he used to love to ride in the cart and he and Farty Papa would race down the isles of Wal Mart late at night , yes that is when we shopped. So what. He loved and still does, to help put things in the cart. When he was smaller it used to be whatever he could reach. A constant source of frusteration for me but now I just remember how serious he was about filling up the cart. We need this, and this, and this.
I recalled when MTA was a baby and she would ask questions the whole trip as we shopped. "Why is that bag purple? How much does the bread cost? What time is it? Can I have that? I want a Kasimodo pillow ( Quasimodo , it was back when the Disney movie Hunchback of Notre Dame came out ) Can I have a Kasimodo pillow? How come carrots are orange? Do you like my shoes? " It used to wear me out but now I miss it. She used to have a band aid fetish and used to wear them on her upper lip like a mustache. *laughs* People would ask her if she had an owie and she would say " No I don't" I would then have to explain that she just really liked band aids. As she slips further into teenhood I miss how everything she wanted to say, she wanted to say to me. I remember how important talking to me was to her.
Macguyver used to take it upon himself to make sure we had the best cart. Sometimes checking 4 or 5 carts before he found one that was suitable. He was about 4 at the time. Imagine how long that could take. Now imagine the time it took when we graduated to 2 carts at a time. Yea. He took a great interest in how much things cost and listened intently to Farty Papa's many lessons on price per ounce and how to determine the best price for the amount in the package. He also loved the toy aisle. It used to be an aisle I would avoid because he had so much to say on every toy. How cool it was and how it would work great with something he already had. How he wanted this builder set so he could make this cool robot . It killed me because we could never afford new toys but once a year at Christmas and most years not even then. Now I can only see the light in his eyes in those memories and how wonderous a new toy was.
Sketch is a quiet one and even as a baby he was content to just ride in the cart. Mostly what I remember was Farty Papa carrying him around in a backpack and Sketch would bang on his head as they walked and pull his hair. I remember one time I looked up at Sketch in the backpack and the butt area was soaked. Sketch had peed down Farty Papa's neck as we walked through Wal Mart. I remember as he got older his attention was drawn to crayons , markers and paper. He loved paper. It used to be overwhelming because he wanted to go to the art supplies but I had two carts I had to fill with groceries. Now I just remember his smile as he browsed supplies he knew he couldn't get. He was content to just look.
When superman was smaller ( hes still small) He could be fairly vocal about his needs. I can't say that any of my kids every really threw tantrums that I can remember but Suprman cried sometimes. He loved bananas ( he still does) When he was very young would have to carry a little teether thing that was like a net cup so that when we got bananas we could put a piece in it for him so he would just be quiet about the bananas. Now I miss that. Now he sits quietly and spends the time I am shopping, telling me how much he loves me and how he "wishes" I would get him this or that . Or how he thinks I am going to get him this or that. His way of subliminal messaging my brain I think. He thinks he is clever. In truth he's just cute and growing up too fast so I give in sometimes just because I like his smile and I know one day I will miss his shopping cart conversations.
So getting back to my story about the trip to the mall. As I watched her during the time I also began to watch other mothers. We went to a small play area in the mall ( ok so it needs to be known there were NO play areas in shopping malls when my kids were small . I am a tad miffed . ) In the play area I got to see several moms in several stages of mommyhood. Pregnant with small kids, tots and even a little older kids. All with moms either avidly and carefully watching and observing their play or with moms who were actively playing with their kids. I witnessed moms of all colors, races and nationalities doing what we all do. Mother. Women with overladen strollers and bags under their eyes, some moms were put together , with full make up and hair but mostly they looked tired and just greatful to have a moment to sit. While others hovered over little ones helping them slide or climb.
Now before I go on I want to be clear about something. I knew there were a ton of good moms in the world , in my community etc. It wasn't something that I wasn't aware of I mean I just took for granted that most moms were good moms. Different maybe but still good to their kids. However sitting there watching these moms it became really evident that motherhood surrounds us all.
There are so many good moms and not a single mom in that play area looked like another. Not a single one did things the same way , they didn't dress alike or think exactly like another. They were all inherently different yet they formed a sisterhood in my mind so suddenly and completley. Suddenly they were one woman. One purpose and one goal. The purpose to be the best mom they knew how to be. The goal to raise their children safely and well. Not a single one will do it the same as another yet somehow they will do just that. In that moment suddenly I didn't feel less than. I felt part of something so much bigger than myself . I am raising 5 parts of the world. 5 people who in some way or fashion will leave a mark on the world after I am gone. Suddenly I didn't feel like I would never get my chance to leave my mark on the world. I realized I already have.
I always knew I would be a mom but I didn't always know I would be greatfull for it. I knew I would love my children but I didn't always know I would want to be someone they could love in return. I just didn't think about it.
I know now. I might be a different mom but I am the best mom I know how to be and I try every day to be better. I hope someday when my children are raising children they will look back on their time with me and remember the good things and much as time has done for me, forget the bad.
I suppose I want to say to any moms who might read this, keep your head up and do what you know is best for your families. Do your best because that is all that anyone can expect from you. Silence your worst critic, (your own mind) Try to see the good you do and do even better tomorrow. Accept that somedays will be bad and some will be worse. Allow yourselves to be imperfect. Allow yourselves to be different. Allow yourselves to be who you are and get ok with who you are.
As soon as you do you will see that those who matter were always ok with who you are and those who aren't never really mattered.
I don't know where all this has come from but I think it has some merit. Let me know what you think, pass it on to moms you know if you wish. Leave a message if you feel impressed to do so. Thanks for listening.
One more thing.
Thank you for everything DM. Thank you for so many things I can't count. Thank you for saying once you were proud of me. Thank you for being brave enough to go it alone with a young child for the best of both of us.
also I want to thank the moms out there that mothered me and didn't have to.
Including but not limited to
MIL who taught me to crochet and encouraged me to nurse my babies. And many other things.
Kaye who took care of me and my kids when I needed it.