Often I encounter horrific incidences of rude people making unsolicited comments about my parenting (or lack of) while out and about with the kiddos. On our recent trip to Portland, however, I sat in the Target Starbucks and wept.
Driving to Portland with a 4 and a 2-year-old, let me tell you, is not for the weak. The kids did great considering the length of the drive, but after 67 potty stops, stopping for dinner, listening to The Wheels on the Bus and 5 Little Monkeys 7 thousand times, I was ready for them to fall asleep and soon they did. For just a bit I relished belting out my favorite tunes without someone asking to turn it off or change it or telling me about how “He’s looking at me and I don’t like it!”
We make it to our hotel, I check us in, we grab our suitcases and head to the room. (Randomly enough, this was the part of the trip I was dreading. Out of habit, Eric is usually the one that gets us checked into a hotel. Not that I can’t do it, but it’s just easier for one of us to sit in the car with the kids and the other handles the details. Maintaining behavior in a crowded hotel lobby while trying to conduct business was just asking for disaster, or so I thought. The kids did great.)
Our room had one of those ginormous bathtubs right in the room! The kids were in heaven! The irony was not lost on me that I would KILL for a nice long hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine, but if I even attempted it, they’d jump in with me and that would defeat the purpose. The kids did enjoy a “big bath” and then we headed to the pool for a late night swim/get the sillies out session.
The next morning before meeting up with friends for breakfast, I find a Target store to kill some time. (We are early risers and to quote a text I got from said friend, “Are you crazies up already?”) It was a rough morning. Kids were a bit out of sorts, wanting to go to the pool, Jake didn’t want to do this or that, then he didn’t want to be in a cart, but wasn’t listening, grabbing at juice boxes etc., etc. so in the cart he goes while I order a (strong) cup of coffee and something for the kids. Both kids are wailing by this point and if I didn’t get my coffee soon I was going to wig out. I am a better mommy with a cup of joe.
We get our beverages and I release them from Target cart exile. We sit down and Jake is still crying and says, “I miss my daddy.”
Kill me now.
It always comes out of left field and I never see it coming. “I know, honey. We’ve had a rough morning. But you know what? Daddy is almost at the end of his big work trip. He will be home soon. Right now though, we get to see our good friends from Hawaii. So why don’t we turn the page, and start a new part of our day?”
He comes and sits next to me and I rub his back.
“Why don’t we pretend we didn’t have such a rough morning. Let’s enjoy our milk and Mommy will enjoy her coffee and let’s go visit the toys for a bit while we wait to see when we’ll meet up with our friends.”
“Okay. That sounds good.” He has started to return to his normal happy(ish) self and the three of us chat about what the day had in store for us.
Then over walks the Target employee and I brace myself. After some of the comments I’ve received, I think over the past 15 minutes and mentally check myself for what I possibly could have said to offend her.
“Thank you. Thank you for being a kind parent. We see many parenting styles in here as you can imagine. You are a good mom,” she tells me.
And there I sat in the Target Starbucks and I just let my tears fall. It was a rough morning and it’s been a rough year with Eric gone. I knew we were seeing our dear friends, but I also knew that another hard “see you next time” was only three days away. It all just kind of hit me. I thanked her for her kind words and celebrated the fact that she’d caught me on a “good day”.