Yesterday when I picked Issa up at camp, I had one of those mom interactions that breaks my heart. I walked in to find Issa very happily playing, and she asked for five more minutes to finish building whatever they were building. No problem. As I watching my girl, another mom glared at me, "So, you're Issa's mom."
Deep breath. "Yes."
Before I could say anything else, "Well, my daughter told me this morning that Issa has great lunches and she wanted lunches like Issa."
I couldn't help but giggle a little, even though her tone was not genial. "They're just leftovers or whatever I piece together from the refrigerator. I promise they are not fancy, and I'm just as tired of packing them as you probably are."
"Well, I'm doing good to get a peanut butter sandwich made every morning."
"That's awesome! I wish I could do that. Issa won't eat peanut butter sandwiches--or any sandwich. She doesn't like soft bread."
"Well, I just wish you would stop ruining lunch for us." And she turned on her heel and left.
Issa was oblivious to the whole conversation, thankfully, but I couldn't let it go. Frankly, it's not about the lunch. It's not even that she was so angry at me. It wasn't about me. None of that conversation was about me. It was about her.
It was about the same feelings I think every mama finds herself feeling at some point. Exhaustion--because really packing lunches gets old. Guilt--because her kids were in camp instead of home doing the sixteen million crafts she's probably pinned to boards on Pinterest. Hurt--because sometimes kids innocently say things that cut us to our cores because of our own hang-ups and crazy expectations of ourselves. For all I know, she had a horrible day at work and was facing a pile of housework and that pesky dinner that insists on being made every night. I just happened to walk in and remind her of the rocky start to her day.
In that moment, what I should have done was simply said, "You're doing good, Mama." That's what the conversation was really about--insecurity. This motherhood gig is a tough one--on a good day. It can be lonely and daunting and exhausting. We all know our kids only get one childhood and they grow up way too fast. We set standards for ourselves, and we fall short because we are human first and mamas second.
Here is my wish and my mission. I wish that we, as mamas, remembered that we are all in this together. They say it takes a village to raise a children, but it takes an even stronger village to support the mamas (and I'm sure daddies, but since I'm not one of those I won't speak for them). We have to be the village for our kids and each other. My mission is to be brave enough to live that wish. The next time I see the mama overwhelmed and lashing out, my mission is to simply say, "You're doing good, Mama."