*update at end of post*
In my defense, I only ran in to grab a pair of clearance pajamas for Charlotte.
But the entire store (GYMBOREE!) was $12.99 and under so I got a little distracted. I was alone for the afternoon and before I knew it I was knee-deep in outfits that involved plastic fruit.
Judge me not, friends.
They had matching hair gear.
So anyway, I was there for a little while and there was a kind woman (read: the type who would gauge your eyes out if you reached for the last pineapple tankini in a 5T) next to me trying to do some shopping (warfare) in the sale section.
Unfortunately for her two children, this meant she was unavailable for much more than “Sit still before I MAKE you sit still,” and “What is your DEAL?” (Yes. Actual quotes.)
I considered asking how she was going to make them sit still when she didn’t know where they were hiding and also, what parenting book suggested the sage advice regarding usage of the word “deal” in the context of public discipline techniques.
I didn’t ask either, mostly because I was afraid of her.
Sadly, the children were not.
I’m just saying if your children aren’t at least a little afraid when you are yelling at full throttle, you might want to invest in a new bag of tricks.
At one point the older one (maybe 6?) ran under my legs and almost knocked me over. I made some solid eye contact with him and he smirked at me. SMIRKED! I am not a fan of the smirk.
His mom must have seen it happen but she didn’t say a word. He wandered to the front of the store and I watched as he walked out of the store and right out of eyesight. I was about to try and get her attention when he stuck his face in the corner of the display window. The sales lady told his mom he had run away. She was less than pleased, as evidenced by her shouting, “Don’t make me put this stuff down!” Yeah, awesome. That should definitely take care of things. Kids HATE it when you set stuff down.
He wandered back in and she told him to try on a pair of shorts. Due to the fact that there is no dressing room at Gymboree, she asked him to walk toward the back of the store, slip off his pants and try them on. Shockingly, he went unattended to the back, took his little jeans off, and proceeded to come back to the front in nothing but his teeny-tiny tighty-whities.
He walked up to his sister (who was about 5), turned around and pulled his underwear up into his buttcrack and started screaming, “Look at it! Look at my hiney-hoo!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!!!!”
She looked at him and snapped, “No, Michael. NO!”
Finally, their interaction got momma’s attention. She dropped the flamingo capri pants (hello, business!) and whipped around to face them. The sales lady and I exchanged quick glances, grateful that the little sideshow was finally over.
I promise you that what I am about to say actually happened.
She bent down, scanned right over bootylicious, and looked her daughter dead in the eye.
“Nicole. NICOLE. We say NO thank you.” She shook her head, turned back to her loot, and didn’t say another thing.
The woman behind the register was standing frozen in time with nothing but a stack of $1.99 accessories and ruffle socks to hide her shock.
I was paralyzed. The kid just kept laughing this evil little laugh while the girl walked toward the back to watch whatever was playing on the T.V. She slumped over in a tiny plastic chair while smirktastic continued his nude streak.
I am a woman who appreciates justice, and also a woman who (while I certainly have MANY, MANY less than stellar moments) at least strives to pay attention to what is happening with my kids before I snap at one them. And it takes a WHOLE lot to get me to threaten setting down a good bargain.
This is an extreme example, but it smacked me upside the head because I was so frustrated with this woman for completely neglecting her kids that I was beside myself for the rest of my Gymboree experience. She, on the other hand, couldn’t care less, and as she dug through her Dave Ramsey envelopes, emptying hundreds of dollars from each of the carefully labeled envelopes (you know, like groceries, electric bill, and YMCA fees) I noticed something interesting.
She hadn’t bought the pair of shorts for her son.
In fact, she hadn’t bought a single thing for him.
I watched as she handed the bags, one after another to her daughter while telling her how pretty she was going to look.
And it hit me.
I do that.
Not to this level, certainly, but I do it.
I slack on my parenting and I try to love my kids in ways that are convenient, superficial, and as useless as a fruity skort-set with no matching headband.
That might be a little dramatic, but it’s true. I go away for a night for work and I have to bring them each back a special treat. It’s pitiful, actually. I have been convicted of the way I try and “make up” for my perceived weakness as a mom before, but for some reason it clicked as I watched them walk out of the store.
Am I loving them well? Really, really well? Because I’m running out of time and there isn’t anything the new Fall line can do about it, no matter how many leaves are hand-stitched on the front (It’s 11 for the record. ELEVEN! Wait, where was I?)
I’m being really transparent with you all here, and it’s something that really troubles me. Apparently my insecurities aren’t that closely guarded because the Mother’s Day card Abby made me said this:
“Mommy I wunt you to no that you are the best mommy in the world. Even tho you don’t thing so, u relly are.”
I mean about the grammar, not the sentiment. But yeah, that was a dagger too.
I’m relatively sure I’m not going to walk my daughters down the aisle and whisper, “Did I make you cute enough during your life, hon? What about the IPod? Were you happy about the pink even though I promised you green? And our house…I mean, you didn’t feel cramped in there with your sisters, did you? Mmmkay, love. Now go change the world!”
I want to be emptied of everything I had to give them.
I want to feel like I gave them more than matching dresses and surface-level manners.
I want them to go on to do more with their lives than show their butts to people.
That last part came out wrong. It kind of ruined the emotional vibe I was tapping into, but I have a feeling some of you are still with me.
I’m praying tonight for all of my fellow mommies as we navigate the waters of child-rearing. Lord, help us to soak them up, squeeze out every good thing they have to share with the world, and let them remember more than the time we tackled another mom to get to a froggie raincoat.
Did I mention it was $12.99?!?!?!
Judge me not, friends.
Judge me not.
*If you read this and felt sympathetic for this frantic mom, you aren’t alone. We have ALL been the mom trying to do the best we can…this was about someone I felt was symbolic of a culture that sometimes places more emphasis on what our kids are wearing than what they are feeling. Please don’t think I would ever bash a fellow mommy who was having a rough time…I have been there WAY too many times to do that!!!! I think that a majority of you understood that, but I just wanted to make a point of it so that nobody would feel like it was a personal attack…honestly, I saw this as a prime example of my faults and wanted to share my own insecurities. I just wanted to clarify!!!