I was in Meijer this week.
I’ve had several days off over the holidays so after several illnesses ravaged our house and left the place ransacked, I decided to finally make the most out of being at home with Emma. I bundled her up for some grocery shopping and made the decision to slow down. To focus on making her laugh through the aisles instead of shushing and pacifier-passing as I hurried through my list.
It sounds terrible, but it’s become very hard for me to slow down and enjoy the moment. To take myself off of cruise control. To stop going through the motions. When I’m in my weekly routine, I feel like time is constantly nipping at my heels. I focus on getting to the next thing, to the next thing, to the next thing. And I really don’t want Emma to grow up thinking she’s a calendar task, even if I use them to keep some of her routine straight.
So I went into Meijer and I forced big smiles on my exhausted face. I played peek-a-boo through aisles and I tickled toes. I swooped in again and again for kisses. And it felt good to hear Emma giggle for such an extended period of time but it also felt a little like being a phony. I fully believe in the saying “Fake it ’til you make it!” but I was acutely aware that the image I was portraying on the outside did not match my desperate desire for a nap or a really, really long shower. It didn’t show the lack of sleep, the cold turned flu that stole some of the days I had set aside for storing up energy. The pile of laundry waiting for me after I returned from the store or time at my heels.
I was waiting in line, kissing and tickling and babbling back, when a woman in her 50s turned around and said “You probably aren’t that cheery at 2am, are you? This must be your first.”
Where I thought I might get a response like “Good for you! They’re a blessing, aren’t they?” I was met with either annoyance over my perceived naivety or the envy that I know I’ve felt in the past toward other moms who have it all together. I wanted to tell her that I was pretending. That I was forcing it. But I smiled and shared some small talk before swooping in again and again for kisses.
We’ve got to start celebrating each other as moms. Not just NOT JUDGING. We have to take it a step further. The next time a mom tells me her child is sleeping through the night, I hope I can say “Good for you!” without following it up with my own sob story to make them feel guilted for the good days (or nights). I hope the next time I see a child opening wide for bite after bite, I can clap my hands for them without talking about what a struggle it is to get a spoon in my daughter’s mouth.
And I hope the next time someone calls me out in one of my good days, I can remind them that we’ve got to celebrate the good days because sometimes they feel so far apart. Is the grass really greener? It depends at what time you look. We all have different seasons.