I see you. I see you standing in the grocery line with your short shorts (and your no cellulite legs) and your sorority t-shirt. I see you standing there, looking frustrated because of the long line, reading your OK magazine. Do you know what else I see? I see "the look" on your face that says you think I'm a crappy mom. I'm standing in the same long line, but instead of leisurely reading a magazine, I'm trying to keep three kids from tearing the place apart or bothering the other grocery store patrons.
I have seen that look from countless others like you and I have heard their veiled comments, too. Comments to my children like,"I bet you've never even had a spanking before," implying that I don't discipline my children. Or after I have given the boys a two minute warning and ten minutes roll by, I have heard you say, "Boy, that sure was a long two minutes."
Let me let you in on a little secret: I recognize those looks and those comments all too well because I used to be you. I used to be the one saying, "My kids will NEVER do that," or, "My kids will NEVER act that way or EAT that." I was a perfect mother, before I had children. I kept it up for a little while, too. Pretty sure Brock didn't have a juice box until he was four. But, by the time the third kiddo rolls around, you will be faced with a choice. When the two big boys are happily drinking juice boxes after a soccer game, you will have to decide if one juice box a week will kill your one-year-old. Probably not. Will listening to him screaming for twenty minutes in the car on the way home kill you? It might. So, you give the baby a juice box and then you get "the look." The "I can't believe she just gave her baby a juice box" look.
Or, after your kids have been passing around a virus for a week and your husband is out of town and you are fresh out of groceries, you will have to decide whether you want to haul all of your kids up to the grocery store. You will navigate the store quickly, picking up only necessities, and hurry to the line, only to find that you will have to wait for what seems like an eternity. And, you will find that, although you think your kids are actually being pretty well-behaved, apparently they are discussing Lego Mindstorms a little too loudly for the person that doesn't have children. That is the scenario that has led me to this moment, receiving the look from you that says, "Why can't you get your kids to be quiet?" and having this conversation with you in my head.
So, live it up now. Grab a People magazine while you're at it. Someday, you will realize that standing in a grocery store line by yourself, reading a gossip magazine, is like a vacation. Someday, you will be a mom and you will know that you are doing the best that you can do. And, someday, you will be met with "the look" yourself from someone that has no idea how hard being a mom really is, and after the initial sting wears off, you will laugh to yourself and think, "Just wait. You'll be a crappy mom someday, too."
As I reflect on these encounters, I realize that we would all be wise to remember that we never know what a person has been going through before the moment when they cross our path.
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