Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why I'll Never Be Mother Of The Year

     Mothers around the world, Unite! 
     I'm not sure why, it just sounds good, doesn't it? Oh, wait, I know why moms should unite.  To take this solemn oath:
     "Dear Fellow Mother,  I vow not to stare at you in the grocery store aisle, when my kid is at home with his dad and your kids are crying over in the cereal section.  I vow not to wear a smug look of superiority when my kid leaves the park as soon as I tell him to and your own through fits.   I promise not to judge when you let the kids skip a serving of vegetables and have ice cream instead.  I will recognize that whatever trying time you are going through with your offspring out in public, I have either been there myself or will be one day in the future."
     Let's face it.  If your child has never embarassed you with their behavior then it is because they are enrolled in a boarding school in some far off, distant land  miles from where you live.  I challenge you to find me one mother who has never left a half full grocery cart abandoned in the middle of  frozen foods when she couldn't get the baby to stop screaming and the toddler to quit pulling boxes off the shelves.  Motherhood is hard.  The training Navy Seals go through?  Would seem like a dream vacation most days.  You want a terrorist to spill his guts?  Make him take a two year old grocery shopping on a Saturday morning when the store is packed.  He will beg you to listen to his confession.   
     So, why are we moms so hard on each other?  No one will ever judge a mom as harshly as the mom one kid over in school, the store, the pew behind you in church, etc.  You get the picture.  Why do we moms feel the need to pretend we have a handle on it all?  To show off for our friends?  To deny the fact that we have no clue what the heck we're doing half the time?  So we feel better about ourselves when it is someone else's kid everyone is looking at for once?  We have all been there.  Either we are the ones with the kid crying that is disrupting the quiet or we are the ones watching a mom struggling with a tiny, temperamental tot and thinking, "This lady has no clue what she is doing."
     So, in the effort of uniting moms around the world I would like to confess why my son will not be nominating me for mother of the year this year.  Or any other year most likely.
     On occasion I have forgotten to do laundry and sent him off to school in a pair of jeans that I've rescued from the hamper and deemed "the one that most likely can pass for clean".
     I have pretended to be asleep when he comes poking my shoulder in the middle of the night, hoping he will give up and just go back to bed on his own.  He never does.
     The other day at dinner my son told us he knows that "son of a b-word" is a cuss word.  When questioned how he came to know this phrase he gave a simple answer.  "I learned it from Mommy.  Remember, the other day when we were driving and you said 'son of a b-word, could you old folks go any slower?' "  Oops.  I thought he couldn't hear my mumblings.  I was wrong.
     Sometimes, I hide candy in a kitchen cupboard he can't reach because I don't want to share any of it.
     Once, when my son was only a year and a half  we were at a local aquarium and he was acting up horribly.  I was exhausted from trying to keep him corralled.  He ran off and was climbing on a display which was not allowed.  A lady passing by asked me where that little boy's parents were.   "I have no idea.", I replied.   It's a good thing she moved on before he betrayed my lie.
My list could go on and on.  I hope I have leveled the playing field when it comes to the sport of mommying.
     The truth is that every child has a list similar to mine for their own mom.  The next time I am in a store at ten o' clock at night and I see a mom dragging two kids through the aisles I will fight my first inclination, which is to ask myself why she has her kids out this late on a school night.  Instead, I will try the nonjudgemental approach.  After all, for all I know she could have had a tragic family emergency that has her scouring the city in search of medicine or bandages.  I'll remember the time I was in a McDonald's with my young niece.  She didn't get her way and responded by screaming at the top of her lungs and hurling straw wrappers and napkins at my head.  I tried to grab her to leave and she crawled under a table.  Out of nowhere came a gentle touch upon my shoulder.  A kind lady had left her family and spoke quiet, sweet words to my ear.  "I just wanted to let you know that I've been where you are.  I said a prayer for you today." 
Much, much better than the dirty looks I had been getting.  Understanding and compassion.  It immediately diffused the situation.  Choked up with gratitude I looked her in the eye and said, "Lady, this ain't even my kid." 
But the truth is that it could have very easily been and a little understanding and compassion goes a long way.

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