Standing in line at the grocery store, you looked at me. Was that repugnance on your face? When your eyes rolled into the back of your head, I thought for certain you were about to pass out. There was resentment in your eye, a flicker of sadness. Your eyes migrated across my body while you scrutinized my outfit; you resented my sock-filled leather boots, skinny jeans, cute cardigan and perfectly encircled scarf. You didn’t have to say so; I saw the look of condemnation in your eyes as they rolled across my body, from head to toe.
I saw you too; you are me.
Your hair disheveled, the food from breakfast on your shirt, two cranky toddlers clinging to your yoga pants. I smiled, but you didn’t return the favor. I understood you were distracted, busy, tired. I watched as you snapped your youngest up into your arms and rifled through your purse trying to find your debit card. I noticed your frustration as your oldest began whining that he had to pee. Again you looked back at me, this time apologetically, as if to say, “Gah, I’m so sorry about my god-damn life and these two children, who are driving me mad.” I discerned your tired eyes and weary soul, your apologetic glances, and misinterpreted stares. I’ve been you.
I know you, and I am no different from you.
However, you don’t know me, not yet. I was once you; I too carried my toddlers screaming and howling through the grocery store. Hell, I think I went a full year with my hair in a mom bun. Also, I wore the same track pants for so long; my friends threw a track pant intervention party. I loved those pants.
Today when you saw me by myself, and in what seemed to be a well put together outfit, you assumed I was childless, or I had my shit together. I don’t, and I am not childless. I have stood in the same place you were today, but I understand why you didn’t notice. I remember being as distracted by life as you. Wanting my hell of a day to end, regardless if it was barely eight AM. I have been close to tears at a checkout, wondering if I even brought my wallet with me. I get you.
The only difference between you and me is my kids grew up. Not fully, they are teens, and today when you saw me, was simply a good day. You caught me on one of those rare occasions when a morning ran smoothly in my house, and I was actually wearing a bra. No lies. I have gone to work without a bra on more than one occasion, and not because I am one of those girls who doesn’t need to wear a bra, but because life is hard. Parenting is harder.
I remember being just like you. Tired, frustrated and messy. There was either food in my hair or my kids had their pants on backward, and sometimes both at the same time. Days and nights mixed into one and in most of those twenty-four hour periods I resented any and everyone who wasn’t living my life. Especially the girl standing in line at the grocery store wearing the adorable outfit. The outfit that I could neither afford much less find time to put together.
I am you; we just crossed paths at different times in our lives. And whether you know it now or realize it in ten years, (when these days are long behind you), you are doing your best. Those two babies who are clinging to your yoga pants; they don’t even notice that you have food in your hair and the rest of the world is just glad you are raising those children to the best of your ability.
One day, soon enough, you will be the one standing in a checkout line, wearing cute boots while smiling at the young Mom struggling to keep her shit together. Remember then that we are all in this together, and we are not that much different.