I’m sitting in chic-fil-a with my 2 kids after a long day at work. I am physically dirty from crawling under desks all day and emotionally drained. I’m trying the feed the baby who is clearly ready to go while dealing with my older child who is busy cramming the food down his throat to be finished to be able to play. The floor is covered, I haven’t even touched my meal, and I’m about at my wits end.
That is when “that mom” walks by. She’s dressed nice with stylish heels and tightfitting pants, the perfect figure, hair perfect, and the perfect child who is dressed so neatly and clean. She carries her child on one hip and on her other arm is carrying a monogrammed diaper bag complete with toys and snacks for her child to eat. She is the mom who carries disinfecting wipes to wipe down the highchair at the restaurant. Peeking from her bag, was a cover that she would use to cover that neatly cleaned disinfected highchair.
She probably ate something healthy like a salad or fruit while I am trying to scarf down a random nugget that I’m able to wrestle from either one of my children. I look at her. I think to myself, how stress-free her life must be. How she must feel like she has everything under control. I’m in awe of her grace and beauty. But then my thoughts go from soft to mean. I think to myself, she looks down on a mother like me. When she sees me, She must think to herself “Ugh, what a mess she is “. I think to myself how she is going to be that parent at the school that the other parents talk about. She’s going to be that parent that judges the other parents and doesn’t understand why those with multiple children complain that this is so hard. She thinks that she has mastered everything about parenting.
Then I remember, I too was “that mom”. When I only had one, I was “that mom” who looked at mothers who were a mess and thought “clean yourself up “. I didn’t know why mothers of multiple children seemed to be so run ragged. With one child, I saw how easy it was. I traveled with snacks and toys and things to keep my little one happy. He never cried in the restaurant nor did he run around like a kid out of control. Why? Because I was “that mom”.
I used to dress my child in cute little outfits and I was always dressed to the nines. Complete with heels, cute jeans, and cute tops. I always made sure that my hair was perfect and my make up was just right.
I was the mom who had the bag full of toys and treats and all of my focus went to one child. I used to think to myself, “this is really easy”. I felt that way for seven years until number two came along.
When number two came along, I changed from focus on me and him to focus on both of them. Now I was in survival mode. I was lucky if I washed my hair or wore clean clothes. If my children were wearing clothes that somewhat match, I felt accomplished. Being able to conquer restaurants without alienating half of the patrons meant success.
Life on the other side of the mom fence is definitely different. I don’t blame “that mom” for the way that she is. It’s empowering. You feel like you’ve conquered the world, motherhood, success, your career. You feel empowered and feel like you can just do anything. Once the second child comes, that’s when the true test begins. You were given that strength and empowerment with child number one to help you deal with child number two, three, four, etc. I know that someday, I too will be back to that place of feeling empowered and successful. I now look at moms that have more than one child with a different mindset. So I can understand the struggles now and I understand where they might be.
So to the mom who has messed up hair, no make up, and your clothes don’t match – I salute you. To the “that mom”– I salute you. To mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and caregivers – I salute you.