Monday, March 21, 2011

Cheers to All the Moms Out There--You're Fantastic!

"You're fantastic!" a soft French voice enthusiastically exclaimed.

I glanced sideways. A chic older woman locked her eyes with mine, but she couldn't possibly be talking to me. Hair dissheveled, bags under my eyes, baby snot on my shoulder. I think the baby had dropped crumbs in my shirt, too, because I was itching. Caffeine and adrenaline were the only things keeping me upright. Had I even bathed? I couldn't recall.

She continued. "I had only one boy, and I could barely handle him. How you manage three little ones--you're fantastic!"

She looked elderly, so maybe she was hard of hearing and blind, I thought. Otherwise, how could she miss my kids and their constant chatter up and down every aisle of Trader Joe's?

"Mom, can we get this? And this? And that? This too!"
"But it doesn't have too much sugar. Please!?!?
"I know I wouldn't eat it the last three times you bought it, but my tastes have changed. Really."
"Mom, I have to pee! Hurry, Mom! No. I can't wait!"
"When are we going home?"
"Mom, he's bothering me!"
"I'm ti-i-i-i-red!"
"Mom! Mom! Mom!"
By far the worst of the three was the 10-month old. If I put her in the cart, she screamed like she was on fire. If I held her, she wriggled, squirmed, and generally attempted to wrench my shoulders out of their sockets. If I let her walk, she rearranged the shelves by tossing their contents to the floor. It was a lose-lose-lose situation.

That morning, we'd attended a fun, but rather boisterous and spirited (i.e. ear-piercing) playgroup. Then there was the hour's drive to the dentist in traffic with a crying baby, the dentist's visit (imagine that for yourself), and then this grocery trip. I was beginning to experience parasthesias down my neck and spine, a sure sign that my nerves were breaking down.

I only wanted some cheese, crackers, and fruit. It seemed like a task that could be accomplished in under ten minutes, but the kids were making it hard to do with their constant distractions from the mission. Because I was tending to them, I barely knew what I was buying. I was just randomly throwing things into the cart and hoping that when I checked out, I'd have something to serve my company on Saturday.

Yet here was this wonderfully kind lady telling me that I was fantastic. It made me stop and think.  Maybe I was I being too impatient and hard on the kids.

Ok, Baby Walkabout really couldn't help herself. I'd be clingy and crabby, too, if I had five teeth coming in and had just been assaulted the day before with three vaccination needles. Plus, her obsession with cheese wedges was kind of adorable. The boys, too, might have been a little loud, and maybe their boy movements seemed too big for the claustrophia-inducing aisles at Trader Joe's, but they weren't misbehaving or shouting or grabbing things.

In fact, from her perspective, they might have been quite charming. My mom has dubbed my second son The Red Cross because he's always the first to volunteer when someone needs help. One of the reasons we were so slow in shopping was because The Red Cross was busy holding the door for everyone and striking up conversations. He even hugged a woman who looked like she was about 80 years old, and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. As for my older son, I don't know what I would have done without him. Actually, numerous people complimented him on how he helped take his younger brother to the restroom and on how he alternately entertained/chased down his sister.

Ultimately, I decided that my kids were behaving much better than I'd originally thought. As for me being fantastic, well... I still think that might have been excessive praise. I'm grateful, though, to her for saying it. It was heartening to have someone acknowledge that I was at least making a valiant effort with my little brood. Jeanne, wherever you are, thank you for being kind. Thank you for not judging me on a bad day. Thank you for assuring me that I'm not an abysmal failure at motherhood.

The next time I see a frazzled woman with kids in tow, I resolve to find some encouraging words to brighten her day and let her know how great she is.
 That I should know how to speak
      A word in season to him who is weary.
                                               Isaiah 50:4b


Jodi said... [Reply]

I think you're fantastic. And I linked to you today @ Curious Acorn.

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