Conversations: At Target

Yes, I know my hands are full. Why do you think we all have Starbucks?

Yes, I do know my hands are full. That is why we all have Starbucks. 

The other day, I was on a mission at Target. I had the big kids in the triple cart (whoever created that is a genius and I am so thankful!) and Hazel strapped on my back. I was fueled by caffeine and the kids were quiet thanks to dairy and caffeine free “happy-chinos” (as Miles calls them). Armed with my list, I had 30 minutes to get everything I needed and back in the car.

I was almost done with my list and preparing to make the mad dash for the check out lines when a grandma aged woman stopped me. Cringing inwardly, I politely smiled and sent up a quick prayer that she wouldn’t be rude. Ever since Hazel was born, I’ve had complete strangers actually track me down in stores to glibly inform me that my hands were full. I braced myself to put on a smile and respond with, “Hands full is a good life” or something like that.

Instead, she smiled at me and said I was doing good. She raised three children and shopping with them had been her most dreaded chore. Other moments were good, but shopping was never one of them. She even confessed to refusing to shop with her own grandkids! Then, she waved at the kids, encouraged them to be kind, and went on her way.

Thank you, kind grandma, for your encouragement. Hearing that was exactly what I needed.

 

 

Linking up with The Parent ‘Hood this morning.

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Conversations (with myself): Being Real

I think we do each other a significant disservice when we present caricatures of ourselves online. I understand the idea of having niche audiences and wanting to be an encouragement to others. Being an encouragement doesn’t mean simply talking about the positive. Only showing the glowing, rosy moments. What about the moments when your feet stick a bit to the floor as you walk or it’s 8am and you still haven’t done dishes from yesterday’s lunch (or is that just me?)?

Pictures of sacred moments in childhood or great accomplishments do inspire me, but what about that personal bit? What about that bit to connect with real life and the real people around you? The wonderful moment of tender love between your children accompanied with a story about the non stop bickering that had been taking place all day. The reminder that they DO love each other, despite what has been going on all day. Or what about sharing pictures of your 7 failures leading up to your amazing culinary accomplishment. And how about a snapshot of the wall behind the couch your toddler colored on while you were frosting that cupcake?

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a feeling of inadequacy. Everywhere you look, beautiful images and stories can be found about the joys and perfections found in motherhood. Why isn’t that my reality of motherhood? What do these women have that I don’t? Why can’t I attain their level of beauty and perfection, no matter how hard I try?

Most of my daily life is as if I’m in a wilderness of sleep deprivation and constant boundary holding. An amazing wilderness that has joy and rewards, but a wilderness none the less. There are moments like a refreshing breeze. Sometimes, I come across them daily. But those moments never last and they always seem to be just enough (thank goodness!) to get me through the next stretch of parched life until I stumble upon a new, brief oasis.

I’ve begun to reach out to the community of mothers surrounding me. I’ve been holding my breath, asking quiet questions. As the answers have been rolling in, I’ve begun to breathe again. It turns out struggling with parenting, keeping your floor mopped, putting laundry away, keeping patience always at hand, and making sure the kids have on matching shoes are all pretty common. Maybe not those specific examples, but everyone has their own parenting and house keeping demons.

But no one shares them. Why is that? Is it because we’re being afraid of being perceived as a negative nellie? Someone who can never say anything nice? Or how about being seen as weak and disorganized? Worse yet, being seen as a bad mom?

This has to change. Not only do we need to balance the good with the bad but the bad with the good. We need to be real with one another. If we expect to survive this awesome, exhausting, amazing, intimidating thing called parenthood, we have to connect and reconnect. Share the happy with the sad. Sunshine with the rain. Strong points and downfalls.

It’s not comfortable, but real life isn’t shouldn’t be comfortable. My hope is to share my life in color. Not monochromatic or in a specific color scheme. The bright and popular colors, along with the underrepresented and disliked colors.

I want to keep this real.

So, as a first step, I give you this picture:

15 minutes of actual cleaning

Caption of a sunshine yellow color chip: “Did this in 15 minutes while wearing a baby on my back! Woot! Anyone can keep on top of their house in 15 minute chunks!”

Caption muted grays: “Too exhausted to keep up with dishes and the baby is so grumpy, I had to do this while wearing her on my back.”

Real caption that is kind of a muddy mess of yellow, gray and a bit of glitter: “Trying to tackle my kitchen in dedicated 15 minute chunks is possible if I can spread it out over an hour. Three kids is no joke! At least I can wear the baby on my back while mediating the big kids and killing spiders in the bathroom.”

Beautiful doesn’t equal perfection. Even the messy, dirty and possible inadequacies about our lives can offer a beautiful oasis to others.

Conversations: Death

On our walk this morning.

Often, our morning walks find us meandering towards the local cemetery. I’ve found myself avoiding it because I didn’t want to deal with uncomfortable questions. The rituals surrounding death have always created unease in me but as time has passed and Ella persists with her questions, I’ve had to set my discomfort aside to address her curiosity.

Our destination, per Ella's request. I think she may be a bit dark and twisty. ❤❤❤

The opportunity arose one morning when Ella directed our route through the cemetery. We had a calm and basic conversation about death and traditional customs. Things were kept simple and causes of death were limited to very sick and/or very old. I found it so refreshing to listen to her thoughts. Her perspective was so uncomplicated and the entire conversation was easier than I thought it would be.

As I’m discovering, very few conversations are onetime events. She thinks and thinks and thinks about things, processing and coming to new conclusions on her own before bringing it up with me again. Almost a week passed before death appeared in our conversation again.

Generations

She sat on a bench as I finished in the grocery checkout line and stared intently at the elderly gentleman sitting next to her. Once we were out of the store, she blurted out, “Mama! Is that old man going to die soon? He’s really, REALLY old.”

I’m just glad we made it out of hearing range before we had that conversation!

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