It was a beautiful Friday morning in September. As I strolled up to the park hauling five kids under the age of three, I noticed you. I saw your group sitting at a picnic table close to the park and thought, “that’s so cool, moms getting together for a little park time.” I noticed you had cups and snacks and even a tablecloth. “Wow,” I thought, “They really have things together!” You were laughing and chatting and looking so well put together.
This particular day, I was feeling grumpy, frumpy, and kinda down. No particular reason, but, as you know, we all have those days. I kept to myself, mostly just trying to keep the kids under my care at the playground from bodily harm. As I stood there helping my oldest daughter navigate the monkey bars, one of my toddler twins took off into the parking lot. I ran after her and picked her up, only to have her collapse in absolute meltdown in my arms. I set her down gently and she threw herself onto the ground, screaming as though she was being ripped limb from limb. In that moment, I looked over to see you looking in my direction.
Embarrassed, I sipped my coffee without looking up as I let my tot continue throwing a tantrum in the woodchips.
I caught onto a fleeting thought: “Gosh, those gals over there – they must think I’m such a hot mess. And in all fairness, I totally am.”
My toddler regained her composure and ran back to the park like nothing had happened, and I glanced up to see you walking toward me.
“Hey, we’ve got mimosas over on the picnic table. Come on over.”
I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say, so I politely declined. You were so kind and genuine — I knew this wasn’t a “we feel bad for you so we are offering to liquor you up,” but rather this was a genuine gesture of mothering solidarity. As I continued to watch my kids play, I thought about my thought process leading up to when you invited me into your world.
I want you to know I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I let my own insecurities paint a picture in my mind of what I thought you must be thinking of me. I know you probably didn’t even notice the fact that my children were melting down and that even if you did, you certainly weren’t judging me for it. The fallacy of that thought process is 100% on me.
The thing is, somewhere along the way, we’ve let social media and movies paint a picture that motherhood is a high school soap opera of mean girls and cliques. For whatever reason, we’ve allowed ourselves to believe lies that all the other mothers in the world are judging us for all the ways we are messing up. And that’s not to say that those situations don’t exist, but I think they’re more the exception than the rule.
Your gesture this morning reminded me in such a beautiful way that, in spite of our different parenting styles, whether we breast or bottle fed our children, whether we wear yoga pants or business suits, no matter our religion or political views or financial situation, we are all moms. We really aren’t all that different. And we’re all in this together.
So mamas, thanks for approaching me a second time and thrusting a orange juice and champagne filled solo cup in my hand as I strapped the baby on my back and began huffing my stroller back up the hill toward home. I was so glad to have the opportunity to accept your kind gesture. And I’m inspired to make active attempts to continue looking outside myself for ways I can pay it forward to other mamas; a mama who just need to be reminded that we’re all in this together.