Dear Mom at Starbucks,
I thought long and hard about the comment you made to me a few mornings ago and I have to say, the longer I thought about it the more upsetting it became. I’m sure you will never see this but other people will, and if our two chance encounters serve as a small reminder to other Mom’s, then my purpose is served.
You said to me, while standing in line at Starbucks “Oh I saw you at wippersnappers, you really shouldn’t have your computer there ignoring your kid.” (for those not familiar, it’s an indoor playground) I am never the best at witty quick comebacks but my response to you was “thank you for judging me” and I walked away. So why did that one small comment and 30 second interaction continue to plague me?
I guess to understand I should share a little about myself and that night.
I am a working Mom, 5 days a week I wake up before dawn and go to work where my job requires me to hear and learn some hard things about people who I can’t always share, it’s the nature of the work. I know that, and I am ok with it, but I carry it. I leave work, pick up kids, head directly home where I start chores and dinner; clean up animal messes, followed by figuring out lunches for the following day, school and work clothes, maybe build a tower or two, bath-time, skin regimen time, fight a 3-year-old about bedtime and hope for a small moment to relax uninterrupted before the whole cycle starts over, or someone throws up. My weekends are typically filled up with birthday parties, baby and bridal showers, sporting events, family obligations and home projects, all of which my children are a part of.
In the recent past my daughter was diagnosed with an incurable skin disease that came with a laundry list of potential complications, severe ones. At that time I was scared and sad and knew very little about what all of it meant. That’s when I started this blog. I thought maybe, just maybe a few family members would follow me and if I was lucky, I would connect with another family or two who were going through the same experience my family was. It was received better than I ever could have imagined and before I knew it I had a dedicated group of followers that looked forward to what was coming next. It serves as not only a positive outlet for myself, but a tool for others.
Now you can see that we are a busy family, a very blessed, but busy family. Finding moments to write don’t always come easy. I typically find myself in the garage late at night doing research and piecing together my next post. The garage is quiet and I can open the door to hear the night sounds.
That week we had actually been to the playground twice before where my undevoted attention was on all the children present. I like it because they have staff that go inside the structure and check on the kids, it’s small enough to sit in one place and see the whole thing and if your child exits. It feels safe. The night you saw me there, yes, I got a cup of coffee and broke out my laptop. The place was very busy and I did not see you, though I wish you would have voiced your concern at that time, opposed to later, in a snarky judgemental tone. I admit, I too can be snarky, ask my coworkers, friends and family. I can have a sharp tongue, but it’s typically around work issues or in a funny tone, not meant to be blatantly rude, and certainly not to strangers.
That night I was working on a piece I had made a promise to get up soon and the house was buzzing with energy. My toddler was having an especially emotional day and both my kids were delighted when I mentioned heading to the playground. I told them I would be writing a little bit. By now they fully understand that means I need a smidge of time in my own zone. My son is quite a bit older, perhaps the age soon that those places wont be cool, of a more than legal age to watch his little sister and was with her the entire time we were there.
You noticed I had my computer out but you didn’t seem to notice that every few minutes I got up, waved at the kids, checked to see if they needed water and even took a break to slip my shoes off and go down the slide 8,000 times.
99% of my time outside of work is spent with my children, even my blog is about one of my children, I spend countless hours educating myself on all forms of her disease in hopes to bring facts and hope to everyone effected by it. If taking my kids to a safe place where they can run and get out their energy opposed to being cooped up at home and I can have a few moments to get some work done – offends you, I apologize; but here is my reminder and ask of you…
Before making a brash judgement, if you see a Mom that doesn’t seem as attentive as you think she should be, maybe a little less put together or disheveled, ask yourself first, what their day may have been like. Maybe they spent the entire day tending to their family, being on call for Kleenex, food, entertainment, soothing, storytelling, rocking, refereeing and acting as a maid service; and that very moment you encounter them, is the first moment all day they turned on their computer, looked at their phone, looked at facebook. Perhaps that person had a bad day, received bad news, was trying to process something and incapable of being super Mom for a minute. She may have been up all night with a sick baby, or sick herself and struggling to keep focused. You, as a Mom, I’m sure have had these moments. As we all have.
In those times, if something seems off, ask if you can help, keep an extra eye out for her kids if your worried and remember a time that you too, may have been judged for something you did, that really was ok.
My daughters disease has taught me so much about people because it has placed me in a position to have acquaintances from around the world with whom I share stories about our lives and I see the daily struggles they endure. They make my complaints about being “busy” seem silly. It has made me more compassionate than I ever could have imagined.
Our jobs as Mom’s is not only to look after our cubs, but our pack. The other Mom’s. Our job is to empower one another, watch out for each others cubs and well-being. Be the example our children need us to be by showing one another kindness.
It’s so amazing to me as an adult and a Mother to see all my friends who are also Mom’s; in a different light than I use too. I am the Mom that strives to teach my children about hard work, Others to teach about health by living an active, clean eating life, the one who’s kids will always remember their Mom knitting their clothes, gloves, weird monster pants and hats, the Mom who raises and tends to the chickens; teaching their little man about our food sources. My Mom friend that saved children who couldn’t be with their birth parents and loves them just as they were her very own – showing them people are good, My strong-willed Mom friend who takes her girls to roller derby, showing them strength and all my beautiful cousins who spend their days home creating every pinterest pin possible with their kids, feeding their creativity. We are a group of hard-working, crafty, healthy, loving Mom’s who watch out for one another.
Despite all the Dr’s appointments, stuffy noses, loss of any form of privacy, vomit, fits and being so busy I can barely function some days, I wouldn’t ask for things to be any other way, because I am in my happy place with all this madness.
I never owed you an explanation of who I was, what my days are like, or why I chose to do what I did that night, but I gave it to you because I have made countless mistakes in my life, some pretty terrible, but learned from them and I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. . I am going to assume that you yourself had a rough night with your children, were headed to work after a sleepless night and just needed someone to put that anger on. It’s ok, I get it, but I promise you this, I will go to the playground again and open up my computer. On the miniscule chance you see this letter and encounter me in that same situation again, come over, say Hi – ask what I am working on. I will buy you a cup of coffee and you can tell me what kind of Mom you are, so I can be encouraged by you as well.
Mermaid’s 99% of the time attentive, wouldn’t trade my busy crazy life for anyone elses in the world, Mommy.