I walked into the store pushing a cart, Truman in the front, Grant in his car seat in the back. I had gotten out of work an hour before and had been running ever since. Mike picked me up, we went and picked up the boys from daycare, drove to Mike’s friend’s house where I dropped him off to work out. I ran to the grocery store to pick up half of the ingredients I needed to make dinner, the half I had forgotten to get on my last shopping trip. I swear we go to the damn store every day. I was tired, hungry and already thinking about the list of things I had to get done before bed time. I pushed the cart into the store and made my way through the produce, on a mission to find the salsa aisle.
As I turned the corner, I passed by a woman also pushing a cart. Her big boy was in the front, her baby boy in the back. We caught eyes and I saw my own actions reflected by her, as we quickly glanced to the front of each other’s cart, then the back, then back to each other. We smiled, gave a tiny nod and kept walking. For that brief moment, I felt an incredible connection, solid and true, to this woman whom I had never met (never even seen!) before in my life. Like we had been able to communicate understanding, reassurance and congratulations to one another without a word, in just three seconds of eye contact. It felt like an invisible hug.
I was wearing black dress pants, flats, a blouse and cardigan. She was in a T-shirt, Miller Lite pajama pants and flip-flops. She was younger, probably 25 or so. I am an “older” Mom according to some, at 32. Her hair was long, beautifully braided and hung almost to her butt. Mine was pulled back, as it always is by that time of day, in a messy pony-bun. She was black. I am white. We both had “boy” car-seats and little toddler men chatting and pointing out the sights from their perch in the front seat. We both had that alert, yet tired look around our eyes; the one that says our minds are already one step ahead of every thing and every one, but given the opportunity we could fall asleep… right now. We were so very different, so much the same.
I couldn’t help but wonder if we had been able to stop and talk, if the connection would have remained. Would being Moms of two boys, ages separated by mere weeks from the looks of it, be enough to sustain that invisible hug? What about all of the unknown differences? Did she have a home birth or a hospital birth? Did she have a C-section or vaginal delivery? Did she go drug free or have an epidural? Does she breastfeed or formula feed? Does she work away from home or stay home? Do her boys co-sleep or sleep alone? Do they use cloth diapers or disposable? Are her boys circumcised or not? Are they vaccinated or not? Baptized or not? Do they use baby food or do baby led weaning? Does she sleep train? Are they potty training yet or waiting? Does she spank or use time out? Does she let them cry it out? Is she a fan of pacifiers? Will they attend public, private, or home school? Was she married or dating or single…
What if we were wearing signs around our necks, displaying the answers? If she knew my answers…would she have still smiled? If I knew hers, would I have?
We are two moms of two boys almost the same age. Tired, busy, both blessed and overwhelmed by the enormity of this responsibility on our shoulders; of raising children and making them men. We deal with loud, messy, adorable and bratty. We are smothered by love and innocence. We get tight neck hugs and slobbery kisses. We heal ouchies and boo-boos, find lost soothies and dig plastic guys from between the couch cushions. We decode toddler language and haven’t had an uninterrupted night of sleep in years. That was what mattered in our tiny moment of sisterhood. A smile and nod to say:
I understand you.
You are not alone.
You are doing a great job.
This life is not easy, but it sure is worth it all, huh?
Here’s a hug.
That other stuff? The choices and decisions that all of us have to make; the choices that some one, at some point in recent history decided to use against us all and construct a battle ground, pitting Mom against Mom? Yeah, none of that mattered. Because none of that does matter.
I wish there was more invisible hugging happening amongst us, Mommas. So much time is wasted on feuding about child rearing decisions that are frankly, no one else’s business but your own. We need more building up and less tearing down. While you may think your one-sided article or smart-assed meme is throwing out a beacon to like-minded moms, just remember there is an equally sized group of us you are shoving aside. Would you act so brazenly if you were face to face with that “other” mom, instead of hiding behind your monitor? Would you attack a Mom with a different point of view in person? There is a huge difference in sharing information and condemning other’s choices. We need to change our attitudes, our approach and maybe, just maybe, shut the hell up all together once in awhile. There is zero possibility that anyone in the Universe cares more about the happiness and well-being of my children more than their father and me. There is zero possibility that anyone cares about the happiness and well-being of your children more than you. Period.
So, can we help each other instead of preach to each other? Can we stop with the drama and hysterics? How about we all make our own choices, love our own kids and offer a look, a nod, a smile, and an invisible hug to the other Mom in the store once in awhile. It will make her day, and probably yours too.