Last Sunday, I started writing a blog about an experience I had at Aldi. I had typed out some stuff about it, but I never finished it. I was kind of pissed at myself because this blog has become my main outlet for creativity, and creativity is a huge part of my life. Most days, I hardly have time to brush my teeth, let alone sit down and write a blog. I keep forcing myself to do this because it’s my self-care. Self-care is so hard when you’re a mother, and yet sometimes it is what keeps you going. It keeps you alive. Every few days this past week, I kept thinking that I had to sit down and finish the damn blog.
But, for some reason, I didn’t. I couldn’t really figure out why, until today.
Last Sunday I took Maeve, my middle child, to Aldi to buy some random shit. I love Aldi. I love Aldi because I love the fact that you can be looking at a mango on one side of the aisle, and on the other side of that aisle you can check out some pillows, sippy cups, and perhaps, a new garden hose. Aldi is the random friend you invite out to dinner because you want to spice up the evening. You never know what Aldi is going to bring to the table.
Anyway, I was at Aldi, throwing crap in my cart while trying to persuade Maeve to stop chewing on it. She likes to chew on carts. I have no logical answer for this. I’m glad I vaccinate her. She has probably been exposed to more things while chewing on that hard metal than I have in my thirty-one years of life.
We headed to the checkout line. I noticed the woman in front of me had two carts full of food, along with her three children. I saw her counting items as she placed them on the counter to be scanned. I could tell she had a budget. I could tell she needed to make sure that she stayed in that budget. At the same time, she was also desperately trying to get her three kids to calm down so she could get the hell out of there. Her youngest threw a pen in my direction. I picked it up and handed it back to him. She thanked me. I said, “I have three kids of my own, and I think you are doing an amazing job right now.” Her hair was in a messy bun. She was wearing yoga pants that she probably slept in. I could see she was sweating. She was worn out and exhausted. I said one kind sentence to her, and suddenly the color came back to her cheeks.
It doesn’t take much to turn someone’s day around.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but then I realized a few hours later, I am her. I am the mom with the three screaming kids. I am the mom who has one pair of yoga pants that I sleep and shop in. I am the mom who is just trying to get through the day without crying. I am the mom who thinks all stores should blast air conditioning all day every day because shopping with my kids makes me sweat like I’m running the Chicago marathon.
I felt lucky that morning. I only had one kid with me. I normally have all three, and sometimes I also have the damn dog.
There have been so many times in the checkout aisle, where I pull my sunglasses down off my head and over my eyes so that no one can tell that I’m about to cry. I have spent hours in the grocery store trying to plan meals, trying to make sure my children get enough vegetables, trying to make sure I’m picking out the wine that’s on sale… it ain’t easy.
When I’m in the moment, I feel awful. I feel fat. I feel horrible. I feel like I’m a failure. I’m not the mom in the wedge sandals, blow out, and pink lipstick checking out at Whole Foods. I’m the mom who looks like she’s near death at Kroger, pulling coupons out of my ass and trying to bag my own groceries at Aldi while my children try to kill each other.
I still couldn’t stop thinking about the Wonder Woman mom that I saw at Aldi. I spent this entire past week wondering how she was. I hope that the small encouragement I gave to her helped pull her through the week. I’m not sharing this because I think I’m this amazing person who changed someone’s life by saying one sentence to her…I just had to share it with her. I saw so much of myself in her, I wished in that moment, that someone would say that to me.
Fast forward to today.
I decided to take my seven month old and my two year old to Aldi on a Sunday at two pm. Just so you know, that’s the absolute WORST time to go to Aldi. I speak from experience. I have no idea why we still went, but we did. I’m sure everyone in the store heard me scream at Maeve twenty different times. I’m sure everyone also heard my tell my seven month old to stop trying to escape the Ergo I was wearing her in.
We walked up to the checkout aisle.
Once again, there was a mom in front of me. A mom with one kid. I hadn’t even put one item on the counter yet, and she stopped what she was doing, turned around, looked at me and said, “You are a rockstar. Look at you! Wearing one baby and helping the other. You are doing an amazing job. I am in awe.”
I almost started sobbing. I was so unbelievably grateful for her kind words. It took me about a minute to realize that what happened last Sunday was now happening to me.
It takes such great courage and strength to be a mother. It also takes great kindness to lift up others, especially mothers. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve always believed in that, but this experience has really made me smile.
There are so many mommy wars, right? Everyone has an opinion, and you’re a horrible mom if your opinion isn’t the same as the next. It’s so rare that we raise each other up in such a way that changes our view of our own self worth.
This was a stressful week. A lot of shit went down, but all I can remember is the joy I felt telling a mother that she was a mother f*cking rockstar, and having someone else say the same thing to me.
This motherhood thing is tricky. Moments like this make it so very clear and wonderful.
Raise each other up mamas. Raise each other up.