My eldest lay face down while my baby attempted to bite her feet. We were in a tiny appointment room next to the large waiting area, door left open because the mini company I had to bring could not be contained on the single exam table. I balanced my ever-overflowing tote bag from my shoulder while trying to fill the forms on the clipboard pertaining to the general health and well-being of my prone offspring. Curled up in a corner chair, my 8 year-old read a book, while the chiropractor busied himself with the computer prior to the adjustment.
“Yep, a bit of scoliosis going on here, should be correctable with regular visits. You see how she’s all tight here? And here?”
Baby was licking the mirror on the door now. I tried to decide where my focus was supposed to be.
It was then that I noticed the smell, and turned to see my just-recently three year-old 2/3rds potty-trained daughter standing stiff, straining, and flushed, very obviously “working on something.” In the middle of a full waiting room.
Oh no, it didn’t end there. No, she decided to take her time with the procedure, as it was a rather overdue occurrence. Part of me kinda admires the complete obliviousness young kids have to social norms when it comes the calls of nature… If only I had one iota of that serenity. I deliberately shut off my ability to perceive if others were uncomfortable—since there was not a blasted thing I could do about it during this rather important exam—and switched into survival mode. I hyperfocused on the doctor’s words, a tiny voice in my brain reassuring me, “He’s had kids, he gets it, he can handle this.”
“Oh.” (nervous chuckle) “If she could just not touch that table... she could get pinched.”
Wrong focus. Focus off doctor, off pooping preschooler, onto toddler near pinchy table. I scooped her up to balance on my overflowing bag where she could slap my clipboard and chew the office pen that said, “Relax and rejuvenate in our care.” My arm was on fire, my head was pounding as I drowned in the humiliation of being a disturber of the peace, a leader of an unruly hoard, a flawed human being who breeded little flawed human beings, the opposite of put-together, with faults for all to see.
It is hard to be a mom sometimes. Unbelievably hard. Especially when you have to bring your more-than-two children with you out in public because no one could watch them at home, or because you underestimated the challenge of the situation you were entering into. Especially when they were constipated and somehow, SOMEHOW, the best laxative seems to be public places when you are down to the last baby wipe, which is invariably dry as bone. (Why oh why oh why!) Especially when it’s a situation where—oh, I remember!—you used to be like the people you and your kids are currently annoying.
“My kids would never act like that.”
“Why does she have her babies out with her here? At this time of night?”
“Is that kool-aid in the bottle?!?”
“Why is her house such a mess? I guess she’s just laid back about it…”
“Can’t she talk on the phone without talking to her kids, ever?”
Not that I was ever especially uncharitable. I thought I was being reasonable. I mean, the store is no place for kids after 9, right? And kool-aid, c’mon! But now—and I’m a pretty kind person, so I’m not sure why I had to have empathy drilled into me over and over---I’m at the other end, and I have the answer to all these mysterious questions: The babies are out with her because her husband’s sick, and she just realized—after an exhausting day—when she opened the fridge to get milk for the bottle that there’s none left. Nor juice. So okay it was Gatorade, it looks like kool-aid, not much better, but it almost kinda kept baby quiet while she shopped. But then her tired toddler had a meltdown over the non-acquisition of a toy that started to play music while she ran the cart past Dancing Mickey Mouse Pants, so all eyes are on the mom stuffing the kool-aid bottle in the mouth of the screaming baby while she books it down the main aisle, eyes glazed, seeking the refuge of the car where the screams would be louder, but at least the humiliation would be gone. She comes back to a mess which is usually a mess because cleaning with children at home can be like plowing the sea. But oh, it’s not because she’s laid back about living in a mess; she cares, deeply, but by the time it's nine PM she could weep with exhaustion most nights. And yes, if you are blessed with parenthood someday, your house, your car, your purse, and your kids, will absolutely, positively, be some version of that at some point, some day. Not that it's not worth every bit of it to have those kids. :)
I hope I’ve really reached the place where I can see the insecurity behind the rudeness of teens, the aches and pains behind the grumpiness of the elderly. I’d like to think I’m beyond judging in my life. Like about everything, not just “other moms” and their choices of how to educate their children, or discipline, or what they eat for dinner. But also I hope I’ve stopped judging those of different political parties...to consider the individual and not just the ideology. Those of different faiths, or those with no faith at all. Those from different family backgrounds. Those of different sexual orientations. Those who appear rich, and those who appear poor. If the daily humility motherhood brings does not cure me of thinking I am better than anyone, for any reason, nothing will cure it. Because—just like how you can’t “get” being a mom till you’ve experienced the full affect of a thousand sleepless nights--I have no idea what they’ve been through as individuals, or any clear idea where they are now, or what their future holds. I can in no way know for certain I would be better if I had been given the hand they had been dealt. But I do know for certain, when I see anyone in a negative light of any kind because they are different from me; or I get to thinking myself or my “kind” are somehow superior; or I’m just annoyed because I can’t wrap my mind around how anyone could be “that” way--that there, but for the grace of God, go I. Or from there, by the grace of God, I emerged. And sometimes, there—by the grace of God—I will someday go. Because sometimes we need to be broken to be remade. And we all have so much yet to learn. (Speaking of which... brb...Gotta go lecture my husband about the proper way (i.e. mine) to get these honyacks to bed while I blog...)
My daughter wasn’t finished after I changed her in the car after the doctor; she concluded the process in the middle of a restaurant. And to anyone who was there or at the doctor’s, yes, I changed her as soon as I could. She’s a size six, and I had apparently packed only size 3 diapers after all. Besides, she was having such a wonderful time shaking grated cheese over her baby sister’s hair, who was laughing hysterically while I shot pictures with my I-Phone. (Which reminds me: having an I-Phone does not mean I am rich, or that I am a poor and soaking up government money; it just means that my sister-in-law is generous.) Can’t judge a book by its shoes and we need to walk in each other’s covers, right? Something like that. (Which reminds me: I just heard of a service being concluded by an earnest young priest who suffered from spoonerism; he had the misfortune to make it through to the very end when he commenced: “The ass is mended; go in peace.” Okay, admit you smiled… J)
To wrap this up: I hope you, dear readers, won’t judge me too harshly. I am bound, at one time or another (if I haven't already) to tick somebody off or somehow offend their sensibilities. It's inevitable, especially as I am starting out on this blog. I was so afraid of offending anyone it took years to start this. Finally, I had to realize that I can’t avoid offending someone at some point, but I could really mess up by not saying something I was supposed to say. Stuck between scylla and charybdis, I figured I might as well have fun, and do what I love: writing for you.
Thanks again for reading! At some point soon I may have to disappear for a week, not because I lost interest (impossible) or the name of my blog (somewhat more possible), nor that I was trampled on Black Friday (hope not) as I attempt to acquire a laptop (don’t have one.) It’s just that I will have less access to a computer (refer back to need for laptop), and will be out of state at my in-laws for Thanksgiving. (Da da dum!) Tune in next time to see if I remain thankful and non-judgmental while on family vacation and a holiday on the road. If I can't post before, hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving where you can bask in God’s innumerable blessings. -TLC
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom.” Lk. 6:37-38
(Side note: Yes, the Douay-Rheims translation states the word “bosom.” I’m sorry, it’s just there. Probably referring to the heart or the core of the person, or, as in Barnes' Notes on the Bible, “The word ‘bosom’ here has reference to a custom among Oriental nations of making the bosom or front part of their garments large, so that articles could be carried in them, answering the purpose of our pockets. Compare Exodus 4:6-7; Proverbs 6:27; Ruth 3:15.” This reminds me of an upcoming post I’m doing about this blog’s name, which I tried to make unique enough so that I, at least, wouldn’t forget it.)