Other moms have a special place in my experience as a parent. Whether they are blood related or just living the dream along with you, it helps to talk to someone who has gone through certain experiences as you have. It’s not to say that I don’t love spending time with my friends who don’t have kids also. If these friends weren’t in my life, my world would be seriously lacking. However, today I wanted to write about my ‘moms’, the ones who help you feel like, no, you are not alone, you don’t suck as a parent, and yes, it does get better…or at least the things you worry about change, so there’s that.
Parents share a unique experience. It’s the type of connected experience that draws people together like when you’ve attended the same college, or play the same sport. There’s just something specific that someone who didn’t go through your experience can’t understand and it bonds you somehow.
It’s good to be able to share things like, oh, for example, that time when you may have decided it would be a fun reward for a good drop off to give your child, who never has candy late in the day, a KitKat when you picked her up after school. Something you never do. At the same time, you may have also decided, let’s go run to the library to bring those books back since we’re out. Something else you never do. So, on the way, as they encrust their little hands and face with melted chocolate, you realize you are without a single wipe, tissue, or napkin. And their nose is running. You debate just taking one for the team with your shirt, but hey, there’s a bathroom inside the library and you’re almost there. And, before you can corral your child to the bathroom, they run to the librarian they recognize from that librarian’s visit to their pre-school earlier in the day and go in for a big hug. That librarian spots the chocolate encrusted disaster heading their way and helpfully offers a tissue, completely insufficient for the task, while giving you a little side-eye that you may just deserve. Because it’s 5:30 in the evening and this kid is covered in chocolate. Because you didn’t clean up your kid before bringing them in. And, then you quickly try to scoot the snot and chocolate crusted little miracle to the bathroom to clean up and maybe to go hide for a minute, or ten. You know, things like that…just for example, and not feel like the moms are judging you for failing as a human being. In fact, they probably have a story even worse they can swap with you when you’re done.
I’m finding four to be an interesting age of unfiltered observation as well, something parents and just those around children alike probably have experienced, with mixed results. Sometimes it’s good, like when someone is kind to you and your child says out loud “That was a really nice lady.” The person hears it and you see them smile. That’s sweet and makes you proud for having such a good kid. Then, there are other times…
Like the time my daughter and I went to Target and were at the self-checkout. A friendly man who worked there said hi to my daughter and asked how she was doing. He has kind of a cartoonish, high pitched voice. She starts giggling. He asks her what’s so funny. She said “You sound funny!” He looked confused and just then (as fortune would have it) another customer asked for help. I looked over quickly and smiled, thinking he was just playing around with my child. Then, he turns to the other customer and speaks to him in the same voice. Oh dear God. I tried to quickly (quietly) tell my daughter “We don’t say people sound funny.” Though, let’s face it, there’s no way that came in time and every time that guy talked (to anyone), she just lost it in giggles. I couldn’t leave fast enough. Where is the portable hole in the floor you can crawl into during moments like that? It’s not like my daughter was being intentionally hurtful. It’s just really daggone embarrassing. Again, I’ll bet if you talked to any parent of a child over the age of three, they will have some version of this kind of story. It’s this very thing that makes you feel less like ‘it’s just you, you crappy parent’. We need that. I need that.
I’m lucky in that I have two sisters I’m really close to who have children around my daughter’s age, some older some younger. These cousins are like an extended bunch of brothers and sisters. They love like it and fight like it sometimes too. We’ve ‘been there, done that’ as parents and it’s nice to be able to talk about things without worrying about any judgment. In fact, for any embarrassing story I have, I guarantee you one of my sisters will in fact have something even more cringeworthy –and funnier because it didn’t happen to me.
I’m also lucky to have moms in my world who can provide perspective, empathy, and humor when I need it most. Also wine at times, which cannot be underrated. Some of these women I know well and some I wish I knew better, but at one time or another, they’ve all helped, knowing or not, in this journey.
I was particularly reminded of how much mom friends are so important when I reconnected this morning with a friend I had lost touch with. She was in our wedding years before, and at one time, long before kids, in a land far, far away, when we lived in neighboring apartment complexes, we had a standing weekly night where we had dinner, wine, and hours of conversation. Time passed and our lives changed. Interestingly, when we met, because we are in a similar stage of life, reconnecting felt pretty easy, like not so much time had passed. Our kids are around the same age as well and as we shared stories about sleeping (or not sleeping), soccer and other attempts at kid sports, not wanting to go to pre-school, etc., it just reminded me how nice it is to not feel like you are the only one going through something. It also reminded me that there are women in this world, in your world, who get it.
It is not an understatement to say that as a mother, I need my ‘moms’. There are times I realize it more distinctly than others. Without you, the journey wouldn’t be as fun or survivable. I’m grateful for all of them and I hope they know that. And if not, maybe now they do.