I brushed shoulders with her and we didn’t recognize each other. She’s in a hurry, rushing to some meeting. On her phone, in her stilettos with her nice clean clothes and fresh, well-rested look. I mean, c’mon… you have no idea how easy you have it!
After a quick glance, we lock eyes. I sense a little judgment, as if she were saying “get your act together, you’re a mom, you have it so easy.” Yet, it’s her underlying sincere look that makes me feel whole. I can tell she wants in on my exhausting life and I really miss what she has. I don’t know why she would want this… I mean THIS!
THIS is mom jeans and sweatpants, holey socks and wrinkled shirts that hide spit up stains and left over crumbs. THIS is puffy eyes and chapped lips. I’m in my slippers and a real mess of a bun, wearing old makeup and slurping a gigantic coffee as if it were a soda. I’m pushing two crying children who need new diapers that I left in the car, and I could burst into tears at any moment (crazy hormones).
A Nuk falls.
A baby spits up, and I spill my coffee all over my shirt.
As I stumble, she gracefully turns to me, ignoring her important life and my mess saying, “They are beautiful!” My eyes swell with pending tears. She casually tosses me the dirty Nuk that I’m certain is disease-ridden. We exchange cordial nods and go on our way into our respective worlds.
My mind races with my current stresses: dirty diapers, cost of diapers, two babies crying who need soothing now, a gross Nuk that needs immediate sanitizing, two mouths that need food, little people that need love and one mom who needs help… and oxygen. Her mind focuses on her day ahead: the important details of the meeting she’s leading, the hair appointment she must schedule, her 2pm client who is going to sign the contract and she’ll have to pack for a work trip soon, so of course new stilettos are in order.
I really wanted to hug her, cry on her shoulder and say, “I miss you and don’t worry, keep working hard, keep loving what you’re doing for as long as you can, this just may be you someday and you’ll really miss clean clothes and a good night sleep.”
I could tell she wanted to hug me too. I could see in her eyes that she wanted to help me. I imagine that she would tell me I’m doing great. I had a feeling she needed to see me today, to have hope, to share a moment with her future. I know I needed to see her today, to remember where I came from, to remember who I once was, to see how my priorities have changed, to pull myself together and remind myself that THIS isn’t too bad.
I will never run into my old self, but if I did, this is how I imagine it would be. I no longer have babies and my clothes are a little cleaner, but at the hardest and possibly darkest moments of motherhood, I frequently missed my old self. I would’ve swapped roles at a moments notice and slipped into some cute heels to run to a meeting. I missed the clean house, more time with my husband and better connections with friends. I missed busy work, exciting travel and the fulfillment of success outside of the home… without distraction.
As moms, as parents, we often forget who we are. We live in the past, trying to remember who we were and missing those days.
Wasting time… missing those days.
When what we really should be doing is working on who we are now while savoring these days. We are mothers, and we are setting examples for our sweet audience. It took me three years to come to the conclusion that in all of THIS, this parenting thing, I will find a new ME, and it will be exactly what I need and it will not be who I was before. But of course it doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it a bit. We need to give ourselves time to breath as we explore a new version of ourselves. We need to allow ourselves time to just be, let grace in to our lives and actually live. Because once I live for ME, I live tenfold for my family.
I am finding ME again.
In the meantime, I will continue to clean up milk spills and wipe bottoms. I will work on my patience while my three-year olds dress themselves three times, and I will try not to rush a book because it’s getting too late. I will remind myself to drink my coffee before the temperature of the room envelopes it, and I will care a little less about all of this mess!
I am in all of this somewhere, and I have learned to accept it, embrace it and enjoy it.
I challenge you to step out of your forgivable and occasionally (or always) unkempt life, surround yourself with love and know that you will find yourself in THIS. Even if it’s just a few minutes for yourself, a day with a friend, or even (God forbid) a well-deserved evening with your partner in crime. Leaving MOM at home for a moment is okay! Get to know yourself again. You deserve it… and jump into some stilettos for old times sake!