My only two children who can walk were zipping around the house like so many pinballs trapped inside the machine. The one who couldn’t walk was directing the whole episode, shrieking in the direction they were supposed to go next. It was that kind of day. I put my clogs on over my comfy socks and grabbed my keys. It was time to get out of the house.
So, I dashed away with the kiddos for a quick trip to the grocery store to get the few things I needed to complete my larder. The trip to the store ended with a walk through the shopping complex to the kiddy park past the large fountain. It was at this point I first saw her.
She was wearing a smart white blazer over a tight tan miniskirt, her legs descending in trim symmetry through the myriad of straps on her high high-heels. And believe it or not this figure was walking behind a baby carriage. It was the kind of baby carriage I’ve only seen a few times. The brand name was foreign to me as it wasn’t the type to condescend to peddle itself at the chain stores where I shop. The pink canvas was immaculate, stretched over the little baby goddess, hovering over a pink canvas carriage below. The baby was trimmed out in red velvet and white fur.
I thought lamely that she must be working or have just come from work? Because any other reason to dress that nice was escaping me at the moment. I wiped my baby boy’s drool on my sweatshirt sleeve and pondered this. Maybe she was meeting someone really nice? Maybe she thought this was a really nice place? My son spit up on me. I took a crumpled hanky and lamely rubbed it into my sweatshirt.
But there was something about her, beside that phenomenal butt. Really, you should’ve seen it. I’d be wearing tan miniskirts to the supermarket, too, if I had that butt.
But beside that, there was something so familiar to me, as I sat on the bench by the park, diaper bag open, attention courted from every slide by my ubiquitous children. I could tell she was a new Mom. I could tell she was trying to figure it out.
A few minutes later we were by the fountain, my children screaming in delight at the jumping water. And here again this woman comes up with her pink cloud of designer engineering, pulls out a perfect square of pink blanket, and places it below her daughter on the ledge of the fountain my kids were just licking. And I am totally absorbed with her as she holds her young girl on this square of blanket watching the water.
Do you remember that period, oh so brief? When you were suddenly a stay-at-home Mom of one, who, as busy as you seem, doesn’t really do anything? I mean… anything. I remember playing with my son for a fury of five minutes and then thinking, “OK, It is now 8:15. Now what? You wanna squeak that again? OK. 8:20. Dad will be home in… 8 hours. So… when do you think you’ll learn how to walk?” That period. This lady was there. That’s probably even why she looked so nice. ‘Cause this girl of hers just sat there on the rug for an hour doing nothing while she applied makeup and dressed to the nines… to go to the supermarket.
So, now I’m totally identifying with this woman, internally, obviously internally identifying, as I pick the teething ring off the ground wipe it on my sweats and put it back in baby’s mouth. And I thought I’d go over and give her some encouragement. Poor woman was probably dying to talk to another adult.
Do not be deceived, this took courage on my part. Especially, since halfway over I realize that I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet that day.
“Hey, Mamma,” I started. This is the universal greeting that means we are going to be talking about our children.
She fell into the conversation like a marble into water. She even fawned over my children who were enthusiastically loving her baby girl right into the fountain. She pulled off her designer glasses and gave me that look I remember so well shining from behind my own tired eyes.
It was hard, she said. She started so late; she was 35. It’s always hard, I said. It doesn’t matter when you start. She was worried her daughter got her teeth too late. No, that’s normal I said. She thought maybe she wasn’t getting enough calcium. She had been taking supplements. Good I said; it can’t hurt. Way to take care of your baby. You’re doing a great job.
You’re doing a great job.
It was a very short conversation. I had to leave so I had time to make dinner before my kids were forced to eat macaroni for the third time in a week. But, I came away with a few thoughts:
For one, I was glad that I wasn’t there anymore. It feels a little more comfortable three kids into it. And boy am I glad it’s my turn to offer the emotional support to other mothers. Lord knows I’ve had my turn leeching it out of them.
Also, I’m really glad I didn’t let her fancy stroller and amazing shoes trick me into thinking that she, obviously, had it all together. I was happy to affirm her as I have been affirmed. I was happy to be used.
I am not excused from loving someone because I haven’t brushed my teeth. I am not excused from seeing another human being, really seeing them, because they dress nicer than me in my dreams.
There is something I have to give. There is something I have to learn, from anyone-
-even supermodels with anti-gravity baby carriages.