A couple of times a week, if I am lucky, Brian takes the girls and I get a chance to sneak away to a local coffee shop by myself. No kiddos. One day, I saw a mom that changed the way I looked at motherhood. To that mom at the coffee shop, I send you love.
On these days, sometimes I write. Sometimes I read a few pages of a "real" book - not Elmo, or Doc McStuffins or Dr. Seuss - like, a real adult book. Sometimes I just spend an hour on Facebook looking at other people's pictures of their cute kiddos and fun vacations. Sometimes I indulge in a ridiculously fattening peanut butter cookie and overpriced coffee drink concoction. Ironically, sometimes I eat that cookie WHILE writing a blog post about being "healthy." Hey, I'm only human.
One day I sat in my favorite spot. I was just about to Facebook "stalk" while a young mom and her daughter caught my eye. The young mom looked like she was in her early 20s, stressed, sad, in a rush, and overwhelmed. Her daughter was about 11-months old and she sat in her car seat at the feet of her mama. I watched their dynamic for a bit. Mom was on her phone the entire time she was there. She wasn't talking. She was texting or FB "stalking" like I was about to do. This mom most likely needed a few minutes away from "The Wheels on the Bus," diaper changes, baby talk and spit-up. No judgement to this mama from me. I have been there, more times than I am proud of. I watched her little one as mama spent time on her phone. Her eyes were glued to her mom. She smiled at her. She watched everything her mom was doing. In her eyes, her mom is amazing, her everything. Occasionally, the little one made some sounds and mom fed her a bite of bagel and cream cheese without even making eye contact with her daughter.
This moment was a wake up call for me.
I have been that mom. I have been that mom too many times. Towing two kids around, trying to keep up with life, totally distracted and not paying attention to the wonderful things my kids are doing right in front of my eyes. I have thrown mommy tantrums. Yes, those are real things. I am with my kids every day pretty much 100% of the time but I often wonder if I am really seeing them. I am oftentimes stuck in the routine of our day that I forget to let Madilyn, my 6-year-old, be silly, run in the rain, or paint outside even though it will be a total mess. Sometimes, I forget to really see Juliana, my 3-year-old twirl around our dining room in her princess dress.
Being a mom to little ones is tough work. One blog post I recently read calls these years "The Blur." I couldn't describe it better myself. The days are long but the time flies. The actual tasks of being a mama are easy to do - change diapers, feed baby, put Band-Aid on cut - are easy. This is not rocket science. I think it is the 24/7 nature of the job. There is no break. I also think it is the repetition of little things. Fold clothes. Watch 3 year old dive on couch and see folded clothes go everywhere. Wash dishes. About to put final dish away, 3-year old asks for a snack. However, even when I am at a coffee shop "working" I am worried about them or looking at their pictures on Facebook! I know, it's crazy what us moms do.
Being a mom in this day and age is even tougher work. We have Pinterest. We want to throw our kids elaborate birthday parties (and post pictures of it afterwards on Facebook). We have social media to keep up with. We want to have jobs too and earn a part of the household income. Years ago, women had babies and took care of the house. I am not saying that I want to go back to those old ways of life. I am all about women doing what they want to do. However, I think it makes us WANT IT ALL. This, my friends, can lead to overwhelm, anxiety, depression, mama guilt, pigging out on corn chips late at night, 10PM runs to Dairy Queen... you get my drift. These comparisons and high expectations don't get us to healthy places.
I saw myself when I watched that young mom at the coffee shop. I saw her pain. I felt her suffocation. Her desire to not be responsible for another human being for a few minutes. She probably missed her old self a little. She missed the freedom of just picking up and doing whatever she wanted. She most likely wished she could go back to her college days for a few hours, or read a trashy novel by herself. I know, however, that she loves her daughter to the moon and back. She can't imagine life without her. She finds herself in this strange place of not wanting to be anywhere in the world but with her child but at the same time wants to run for the hills. She is a great mom. She is doing her best.
Just then, she looked up from her phone and noticed me looking in her direction. I smiled and she half-smiled back. I looked at her child and then back at her. She looked at her child, smiled, then put her phone down. It was like she caught herself in a moment as well. She looked at her child and smiled again.
It's about being in the moment. I recently started leaving my iPhone upstairs when I am downstairs playing with my girls. If not, I end up looking at it every 30 seconds and Juliana is basically begging for my attention. I let her watch a short TV show during the day and during this time, I check my phone, check up on clients, do a few moments of work. It works at the moment and it is amazing how much I can get done in 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Juliana will only be 3 for a couple more months. Her days of wearing dress up clothes, plastic high heels and princess crowns may be dwindling down. I don't want to miss it. Plus, there is plenty of time for Facebook when she goes to bed, right?
It's about not keeping up with the Jones. Just because you are not making homemade peanut butter or homeschooling your kids does not make you a "lesser" mom than those who are. Do what YOU WANT TO DO. Be you.
It's about putting some things "on hold." Life is a really long time. It's more than OK to wait to accomplish some things later in life. Put making homemade peanut butter on your To-Do list for next year, OK?
To that mom at the coffee shop, I send you love. I send you the ability to get some real time by yourself to do the things you love to do. I pray that you get some sleep because sleep changes everything. I send you the ability to let go of the guilt. I send you the ability to live in the moment with your little one.
You are not alone. I send you love.
Know a mom who does an amazing job? Nominate her here:
Other posts you may like: