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Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Startling Realization

We pulled into the busy parking lot of the local grocery store in my small home town in Nova Scotia. I was home on a break from university, and had decided to join my mother for the ten minute drive it took us to reach "town" from our tiny fishing village. My mother and I got out of her car, crossed the bustling parking lot and entered the store. We were engaged in some mindful chit chat when I scanned the store to see if there was anyone there I knew. It was likely, seeing as how I had gone to high school there only a few short years ago. The scene I was taking in I found suddenly appalling.

Throughout the supermarket I noticed a variety of young mothers. Tired looking mothers, some with one, two . . . even three children in tote.

"Who brings their kids to the grocery store?" I thought.

"I can't believe half of these women are wearing track pants," I murmured to my mother. "They haven't put any care into how they look. It isn't that difficult to put forward a bit of effort before you leave your house. They shouldn't go out looking like that."

Wait for it.

"I will never go out in public looking like that."

I don't even remember my mother's response that day, the conversation had been that meaningless to me. She likely suggested I be less judgmental, because she is someone who would not take kindly to one making negative comments about others, and would possibly point out that perhaps I was in no position to deem what is appropriate attire to wear to the supermarket.

The words had been erased from my mind for years after that, not to be regurgitated through time. Until today.

I woke up at 4:55 a.m. today to a crying baby with a cough and a severely stuffed nose. She couldn't breathe well. I went to her room, pulled her from her crib, and took her downstairs in every effort to make sure that Thing 1, Thing 2 and their daddy were not awakened at this ridiculously early hour.

I nursed her, played with her, and cuddled her while we watched a bit of television. By 7:00 a.m. she was so fussy I nursed her again, at which time she instantly fell asleep. I placed her back in her crib.

As I trudged back to my own warm bed, Thing 1 emerged from his bedroom, wide awake and ready to discuss the finer points of his new Lego guy in his "technology suit". We chatted while I made him breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, let the dog out, shoveled the back walk so the dog could actually urinate, and ground beans for coffee.

Thing 2 arose from bed at about this time, stuffed up and feeling miserable from his cold. I cleaned his face up, cuddled and comforted him a bit, then proceeded to make his breakfast.

By the time the second round of kitchen cleaning had wrapped up, Thing 3 woke up from her early morning mini-nap.

It was evident that our sorry little gang of Things was not going to make it to church this morning. Instead, I figured I would do my Sunday morning grocery shopping to get everything we needed for this week's meals. As I finished my meal plans and printed out my list, I realized it was already almost 10:00. I offered to take Thing 2 to the store with me (his big brother was playing Wii with daddy, and he is not quite as enamoured with it yet), and he gladly accepted my invitation.

Thing 2 helped me clean snow off our car and I buckled him into his car seat. We drove to our neighbourhood Loblaws. We pulled into a busy parking lot. We got out of the car, crossed the bustling parking lot, and entered the store.

As I leaned over to place Thing 2 in the child basket at the front of the grocery cart, his boots wiped brown, filthy slush all over my pants. And right then, it stung me like a slap in the face.

I gazed down at my permanently stained and five-year-old, ripped Lululemon track pants, that were two sizes too big for me because I had bought them in pregnancy. My pant legs bulged out of my knee high "tacky" and fake-fur lined winter boots. A 99-cent plastic head band from the drug store pulled back my bangs that were already showing grey roots, and the hairs that fit were hauled into an elastic. I had no make-up on and the collar of my mis-matched sweatshirt popped out of the top of my parka. The parka had multiple stains on it.

My mind instantly rewound and took me back in time as I replayed my own voice in my head, and could so clearly hear myself saying these exact words.

"I will never go out in public looking like that."

As I have so frequently learned in the past five years of motherhood, never judge another mother until you've walked a mile in her shoes.

I looked around to see if any shoppers were staring at me as pathetically as I had stared at the unkempt mothers that day at the store, and to my surprise, no one was looking at me and no one seemed to care how hideous I looked. I laughed out loud, humbled by own thoughts and by the realization of who I had become. I pushed Thing 2 into the store and we gathered our groceries together, just as we were.


Jen said...

I've been guilty of this too. And boy do I wish I could go back in time and never have those thoughts because I swear I think that it is karma coming back to haunt me. I used to say, "When I have kids, my kids will never be whiny and throw temper tantrums" or some other kind of nonsense like that. hahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

Landerson said...

You had me seriously laughing out loud!! I can picture it now......however I bet you STILL looked great! And if it's any consolation, I'm right there with ya! Hope that everyone's feeling better soon:)

Donna M said...

One of my favourite expressions sums this up perfectly:

"What goes around, comes around!"


Amanda said...

So true, so true. I've been guilty of saying things like that and then doing them just like you did. My sister says stuff like that all the time. I can't wait for her to have kids so she'll have to eat her words. :)

Anti-Supermom said...

This was my yesterday, too. But, I don't care, Sundays are generally me without makeup, pull on a old bally sweater and out the door.

Every other day I wear makeup, look presentable.

I love that line - walked in a mom's shoes... too clever.

amanda said...

it's sad isn't many mommy words we eat :)

ps - i am sure you looked adorable in all your mommy glory!!

Debra said...

I think we've all been there - probably on both ends. I know I was critical before I was a mom - now I know better. :)

McMommy said...

Oh you have no idea how much I commiserate!!

Today I was wearing my pink Happy Mom t-shirt. Carter took the straw out of his fruit punch and BLEW. And as you might have guessed, there was red fruit punch stains ALL OVER MY SHIRT.

I wanted to cry as I used to consider this one of my better tees. (i.e. no stains)

Oh well. Add it to the pile of stained ones now.

Anonymous said...

My kids are older now but between sporting activities, homework and housework, I'm lucky if I remember to put clean socks on and find my damn lip balm.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Good thing I live out in the middle of no where and no one is looking.

Unknown said...

I absolutely super-duper adore this post.

I used to look at my SIL (who now has 3 teenagers) and wonder how she could go weeks without shaving her legs. I think we've now switched positions in that area. Yeah, I don't judge anymore either... ; )

Anonymous said...

This is awesome Miss Crafty Mom, really a great message and a lesson we all need to remember.

Thank you for the post!

Loukia said...

Great, great post! I too look like that quite often when I venture out to Loblaws with my kids!

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