Today was one of those days where I felt like I was on a slippery slope and couldn’t get ahold of anything. Like those newborn babies having bath time in the kitchen sink. Or that special ring slipping off and twirling toward the sink drain.
Moms, you KNOW what I am talking about.
A day that spirals downward quickly, one you grasp at, but the kind that you can’t seem to catch.
I started my treasured day off full of energy. I even took that extra step to pack a healthy lunch for myself and the kids and to put on running shoes so I would be quick on my feet.
Today was the day where I would buckle the babies in the car around a million boxes of clothing, and we would go from having a house full of stuff, to feeling freeeeeeee. At least that’s what my encouraging and nagging hubby promised.
Today was already one of those days that had my emotions running high. Those boxes, the ones teetering on the front passenger seat and blocking my view of the rear view window, they were packed full of precious baby clothing. Remember I shared with you guys a while ago, about how I sorted them out and tried to find the beauty in the mess that was 7 years worth of kid clothing everywhere?
Well, today I swallowed the lump in my throat, put the mental pictures of my once small babies in those precious outfits aside and I concentrated on the fact that if I could consign some of those cute outfits, I would be able to put aside some precious coinage to help buy my now bigger babies, new, fresh duds.
Though, from the moment I stepped out the front door this morning, I knew today would not be an easy one. The winds were blowing strong, the sky was darkening, angry storm clouds were rolling in and sure enough, right on cue, the weather played along with my darkening mood by greying the sky and letting the flood gates of heaven pour down on me, in sheets, as I tried to buckle my screaming kids into their car seats.
Apparently they didn’t get the memo that rain wont actually strike them dead if a drop lands on them. My ears are still burning.
With the wind shield wipers on over drive, I drove 35 minutes to the nearest consignment store with the kids complaining the entire way. It was too stuffy in our vehicle, the boxes were squishing them, they were thirsty, had to pee, were hungry, were annoyed and wanted to know if we were there yet — a billion times over.
We finally arrived at our destination and by that time I wasn’t wishfully remembering my babies in those cute sleepers neatly washed and folded into the boxes in our car. No, I was simply concentrating on the fact that I only had sixteen more years for the youngest one to be old enough to leave home. It was the kind of drive that felt like 30 hours, not thirty minutes.
My little girl began sobbing as soon as I turned the engine off at our destination. I knew her cry before I even looked at her in the the rear view mirror. It was that cry-whine that is usually over something completely silly, that in her four year old mind, is actually the end of the world. Through the high pitched whining, the boogers and the water works, that will sure enough win her an Oscar one day, I could here her saying that she didn’t want me to get rid of her clothing, that she needed it, and that I didn’t care about her when she was a baby if I would go as far as, to “Get rid of all the memories.”
I did what any mother in that situation would do: I ignored her.
I handed her a snack and a drink and parked the car as close to the shop door as I could. I made sure they were secure in their car seats, handed the baby a library book off the floor and got to work moving boxes from the car. I opened the trunk and made a run for the building with boxes in my arms, all the while shielding the precious baby clothing from the rain with my umbrella in one hand and my mama-hawk eyes on the car at all times too.
The rain was still pouring down at this point and of course, I was seemingly stepping into every deep puddle there was from my car to the little shop. Cause obviously, it was one of those days.
When I thew open the door to the shop, you know how us Moms can do it, with our one hand and then we hold it open with our butt, and our knees balance whatever precious cargo we are carrying?
Ya, I did that probably ten times with the rain just pouring down on me like a river.
The pretty shop girls mouths dropped open when they first saw me. I wrongfully assumed, at first, that it must be because they are guessing I look way too young to be able to have children whos wardrobe fills BOXES. And then I thought, no, maybe it is because they are seeing all these boxes and they are astonished at what a hoarder I am and how much work they are now going to have to do. AND then, I realized that they were actually completely horrified by my the streams of mascara dripping down my face and my peach colored shirt that was suddenly pressed on to my skin and was most likely completely see through at this point.
See, “one of those days” in the dictionary.
After totally shocking them with my overall look and my box hoarding ways, I rushed out to pull the kids through the rain and into the shop.
Just then, I heard a woman’s voice screeching, “Ma’am! Ma am!”
I turned my mascara covered face around as I was unbuckling and also clearly terrifying my daughter with my rain-helped-look.
I turned and expected to meet glances with a helpful seasoned mama, or maybe one who wanted to offer a helping hand or to tell me how fast I was carrying all those boxes and how she noticed that I must be upping my evening run and daily cardio.
I turned my mascara face around with an expectant smile.
But, to my astonishment, I was greeted with an angry brow and an umbrella big enough to shield rain from a small village. This women, this stranger, stood just far enough away from me so that the water that poured down her umbrella, spilled off and fell onto my nose and mouth and dripped my lipstick into streaks down the sides of my face.
“Do you know what a terrible mother you are?!”
For a moment I was stunned as I listened to the words coming from this women’s mouth as I struggled with the buckle on my child’s car seat. I thought for a second that she must be joking.
“Really though, do you know what you have done is a crime?!”
By her second remark, I started questioning if this could even be a joke or not. Maybe the whole thing, the way the rain poured down, the way the handy accessible button on the shop was broken, the way my umbrella kept turning inside out with the rain and heavy winds. Maybe it was all a conspiracy and some kind of funny joke?
Like the Truman Show or Candid Camera or something like that.
Her scowl and firm stance made me think for a second that she wasn’t kidding.
Then I knew what it was.
She must have peeked inside my car and saw the wrappers under the kids seat or the stack of paper coffee cups piled in the cup holder beside the drivers seat. My hot pink lip stick was all over the rim of those babies, so there was no denying the fact that I was clearly addicted to caffeine. That must be a crime somewhere, right? Or was it the fact that my daughter didn’t brush her teeth this morning and she had already spilled milk and apple sauce down the front of her sweater. Some days I too thought those things were crimes…
With the rain fall coming off of her umbrella and directly into my face and mouth, I didn’t say anything. I just stood there in complete stunned, still fumbling with that darn buckle that I can never seem to open with the ease that my husband has, I stood there and I let her give it to me.
She told me how no responsible mother would leave her children in the car, unattended. And she was really really mad about it.
It didn’t matter if I was trying to keep my children from being soaked, from being left inside the shop unattended as I ran in and out, it didn’t matter if I thought that them being safely secured in the car with the open trunk offering ample fresh air, was safer than running after me in a busy parking lot with no hand to hold. It just didn’t matter.
She pointed her finger at me, right there in my chest, or maybe at my racing heart and spewed,
“You’ve got a lot of learning to do, Mama.”
It was the way she said “Mama”. Like it disgusted her for me to have that title.
She gave me one last glare, turned on her rain boot heel and stormed off into the morning downpour.
In that moment I wanted to cry and I wanted to stick up for myself and I wanted to buckle everyone up in the car again and just go home. It was a two second encounter, about a maximum two minute drop off , but the anger behind this total stranger’s words, left a sting in my chest where her finger had pointed.
Maybe I wouldn’t have cared if it wasn’t raining, if i didn’t look like a drowned clown, if I hadn’t listened to whining all morning and if the day was as glorious and relaxing as I had dreamed up.
Yep, maybe that was it.
Or, maybe it wasn’t.
I’m not sure why I am sharing this with you, here, maybe to save you from reading it in a typical long IG post about how my day went. I don’t really know. Maybe it is to show you that my life is just like YOURS. To say that I have been there too. So we both dont feel “like we are the only ones.”
I DO know, that as mamas we should stick together.
We should offer support. We should hold the door open, grad the box, offer the smile, offer the umbrella, give a smile and give an encouraging word.
We are all in this thing called life, together.
Rain, up till now, has always had this way of making me feel like that; when seemingly all of humanity puddle jumps and runs for shelter together, when we are all expectant for the clouds to open and the sun to shine and dry up the world again. We are all waiting, together, for life to go on as usual.
Today, I didn’t feel like that though.
No Romantic Comedy here.
I felt like I was in it alone. From the door literally slamming me in my face a dozen times, to a stranger implying I was an immature and neglectful mother.
And here is why you need to see these words and why you need to hear this little story: someones words do not define you.
That women, that strangers words were not the end of my day. They aren’t true and they don’t define me.
I played them over and over again in my head and realized that yes, it is true, I DO have a lot to learn as a Mama, but I also know so much already. Not in a “I am a know it all” kind of way either, but in an immensly humbled way, as a woman who bears the name “mother” and feels blessed every time I hear it.
I will always want to learn more, but I have learned so much.
I know that encouraging a new mother is the best thing you can do for her and her baby, I know that complimenting an obviously tired mom, in whatever way comes to mind, will keep her going all day, or even for a week, or even all year, I know that sharing great parenting tips will not make them less amazing, but instead will spread their awesomeness to other house holds, I know that being a mama and listening to other Mamas is a gift that is irreplaceable, I know that holding a friends baby and giving her loving arms a break, is the best way I can share my Mother hood with her and with her littles. I know that being a mother is continuous, exhausting, dirty work, but I also know that it is rewarding, exhilarating and a treasured gift. I know that as a Mama I will be learning till the end of time, how to love better and do more and above all else how to encourage other mamas.
I know that I don’t know it all, but I know that I will try my best.
Guys, even if you are not a mama, or never want to be a mama, I know you can relate to this story.
An annoying day, turned seemingly bad, turned worse.
Despite the tears in my eyes (or was that rain?) in the parking lot of that shop, I wouldn’t let that be the end of our day. I wouldn’t let that strangers words define my day off with my kids.
My daughter looked up at me with big eyes and asked why “that lady was talking mean.” and I answered her honestly, “I dont know.”
I don’t know if she was fighting her own personal bad day, if she was speaking out of pain or a hurt heart. I have no freaking idea. But, I do know that I today I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt.
The kids and I wasted some time selling sweet newborn clothing in the shop and then I piled up the leftover rain drenched boxes and my kids and drove to the nearest Starbucks. I got a large strong coffee, or a Grande dark roast, for all you posh people, and I picked up a sub for my kids, grabbed the rest of our picnic and started our pursuit for a park.
We drove and I prayed for that lady with the big umbrella and the harsh tongue. I prayed that she would feel warmth and love today.
And like that, the sunshine came out from behind the clouds and the sting from her words faded like the evaporating puddles.
We found a shady spot and ate our lunch with no whining. We threw out our garbage, walked hand in hand down a dirt pathway and discovered we were right along the Cambridge river. We listened to the birds talking happily between each other, and I took in the moment completely. This was the way my day would go. We didn’t know where we were going, but we knew when we came across the forest and the trees covered in sparkly raindrops, that we were making our day count. It didn’t end with words in a parking lot.
It ended with flower picking, skipping and walking so far that little ones had to pee in the bushes.
Life will always go on, storms will clear, birds will sing again and Mamas will, without a shadow of a doubt, learn something new every day, reminded to or not.
I hope you are encouraged today, that when the day is heading down hill, you can turn it around. And above all, I hope you are encouraged to write your own story, to see the bright side and to see all the good that is in you. Together, lets remember to stick together and to always celebrate motherhood.
(Also, those undies stuck in that little dress, from a pee break in the bushes, makes me smile.)