A while ago, Katy said to me, “Mom, how did you do it?” Like many moms of our particular age, I felt a small, knowing smile, creep across my lips. She continued, “You took care of everything and you went to school and you worked – how the hell did you do it?”
My response was, “Because I wanted to. I wanted to do all of those things.”
“That’s why you went to bed at midnight and got up at 6.” She shut her eyes.
Being a mom is wonderful, and hard and rewarding and worrisome and exhausting -all of those things.
My recent trip to Walmart showed two very different types of moms in action. In the meat aisle, there’s what sounds like a small child wailing. Unbeknownst to me, the mom was pulling her child’s hair and calling her an asshole. My skin began to crawl as I listened to this child cry and I wanted to do anything, anything at all, to help. Aisle by aisle, I listened to the child whine and carry on, perhaps it was time for a nap or lunch. I wanted to look the situation over before I passed judgment. Two aisles later I heard a barrage of screaming from a different woman who was berating the toddler’s mom. Telling her how awful she was; that she had video taped the whole episode in the meat aisle; that she was going to call the cops if she laid a hand on her child again; that her boyfriend had no balls because he didn’t stop her from abusing their child; that she was going to broadcast the whole scene on Facebook. She enraged, she shared her personal demon that she wanted a baby and couldn’t have one. She was infuriated because she wanted a baby more than anything in life, and yet here was a woman that had one and didn’t care.
I don’t believe that mom didn’t care. I believe she just didn’t know how to mom.
Grabbing the last thing on my list (before I lost my own shit), I was running for the checkout, I was behind yet another mom with a little girl.
This mom, while I know she listened to the same assault as I, was calmly talking with her small blonde girl in pink, flowered leggings. Every time this little girl asked for something in the checkout aisle (where those clever marketing gurus stick crap that little kids always want), this mom had a quiet response. “You know, you have lots of presents at home. Maybe another time.” Without crying or screaming or tantrum, the little cherub put the things back on the rack. Even when she couldn’t put it back, just right, the mom helped her do it. No drama, no bawling, no two year old body flailing on the floor. I looked at this mom and in my, now “Grandma way” smiled at her. We seemed to have a quiet moment of understanding between the two of us.
I am certain that this mom was tired, she was stressed, she was figuring out just how much money she needed for this basket full of groceries, and yet, she had figured out how to mom.
A week later, tired from a very long week of crappy driving and rental cars, I am in another grocery store and there’s a couple with three children, two of them in a cart. The two in the cart are clearly below two years of age (and clearly energetic rascals with pink cheeks and sparkling eyes). Mom is with them and I keep hearing her say, “sit down…sit down…sit down”. I figured in a nanosecond I would hear similar screaming and crying I heard from the week before. This time I walked right up to the mom and smiled at her. She had the look that I was about to pass judgment on her and her little band of munchkins. Then I smiled at the kids in the cart. Not surprisingly, the smallest one smiled back. Breathe mom. It’s okay.
All through the store, these two, (yes, now they are staying put) continued to jabber and smile while their parents tried desperately to finish and go home. Even dad had these two for a while as mom went to fetch one last thing and not once, did I hear any screaming or cursing. They had figured it out.
New moms, there are times when you want to lock yourself in a closet and cry. There will be times when you are down to your last $2 and milk costs $2.99. There will be days when, if you find one more dirty sock behind the sofa or crayon on the wall, you will want to lose your own shit. Just remember to breathe. Being a mom means you go to bed at midnight and get up at 6. It means praying for the day when you can go to the bathroom, by yourself, without a kid - or a cat - trying to come in. It means you love them so much you wear the same jerseys until you mend the armpits and buy your kids new blouses for the school concert. It means never giving up or giving in because someday, probably sooner than you think, you will be smiling at a stressed out mom because you have been exactly where she is now. And you survived.
Good kids don’t happen by accident. Good moms don’t happen overnight.
It takes a lot of hard work.
About The Author:
Mower-Fenoff is the published author of “Martinis for Every Season- Cocktail Adventures from Northern New Hampshire and a self-taught mixologist. She used her creative, curiosity and frugal New England tendencies to make the recipes in the book. She volunteers for two local nonprofit organizations. She is a gardener, owner/creator of Violet Forrest LLC body care products, silversmith, knitter, mom/grandma and when she’s not wearing her Muck boots and blue jeans, Shirley is a high-heel wearing banker.
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