On Friday morning Husband retrieved our girls from their beds and got the morning started. I slept in. Until 7:30. Not super late. But late on Parent Planet. When I did get out of bed, I was moving slowly. But smiling. As a few fine folks in the Twittersphere already know, I had a big night out on Thursday night. A delicious night that involved gowns and tuxes and dinosaurs and Dave Matthews. A fabulous night on which I may or may not have accosted the current cast of Saturday Night Live with clumsy praise (Kristen Wiig said she liked my dress!) Thursday night was a night on which Husband and I were able to go back, briefly and beautifully, to the night we said “I do.” A night on which I was able to glimpse my past and my future, where the two compellingly commingled around that invincible and irresistible present moment. That moment we too often miss. That moment we too rarely revere.
And I am sorry to be cryptic, to tease you with tiny bits. I will tell you all about my night. Later though. Now, my head is somewhere else. And I need to go there.
Back to Friday morning. I didn’t have time to shower. I raced out the door with Toddler. I buckled her into the Bugaboo. And as I started bouncing her down our front steps, I heard a snap. Something on the stroller broke. We turned around and I put her in the other stroller. The Maclaren. The one that has been recalled. Yes. As many of you know, there has been a massive stroller recall because kids were getting their fingertips sliced off somehow. I didn’t actually look into the recall details. I’m a good mom like that. And I haven’t picked up the free protection part for this stroller. I’m a good mom like that.
So. Off we went toward school in the finger-slicing stroller. I caught a few moms glaring at me. We kept going. And then Toddler started begging for a donut. And so I pushed the finger-slicing stroller into Dunkin’ Donuts and proceeded to purchase a whopping donut for my little girl. Pink frosting. Rainbow sprinkles. Toddler is go big or go home when it comes to most things, including donuts. We continued on toward school.
Now there were more looks. Because I was THAT mom. The one hiding tired eyes behind big, obnoxious tortoiseshell shades on a decidedly un-sunny morning. The one pushing a finger-slicing stroller with one hand and clutching an impossibly vast (and hot) latte in the other hand (the one directly over my girl’s innocent little head). The one pushing a lethal stroller filled with a young girl with a pink mustache and sprinkle whiskers. Yes, I was that mom. (And I will not confirm or deny whether Toddler had another pink sprinkled donut on the way home from school too.)
The point: I am that mom.
I am that mom a lot. Thursday, I almost forgot Toddler’s good friend’s birthday party. When Husband came home on Wednesday, I was in my study (just to check something on the computer! for two seconds!) and Toddler was cross-legged on the glass coffee table coloring her hands with marker and Baby was running, yes running, on the couch. Friday, I realized, was the last day of the Penny Harvest at Preschool and guess which mom forgot all about this cute opportunity to teach her tot about the goodness of giving?
I am that mom.
I should be recalled.
But I kept walking. Because that is what we parents, we people, do. We march on. Past looks and judgments and donut stores. And then it happened. I passed another mom. She was coming toward me, frenzied, no doubt late. She too was pushing a finger-slicing stroller sans protective part. I looked at her girl. And this girl was eating a lollipop. At 8:30 in the morning. And as this mom rushed by me, I tried to catch her eye. I smiled. I am a New Yorker (ergo not good at smiling at strangers or even people I know). This smiling thing was not like me. And I am not sure she saw my smile. I hope she did though. I do.
And it hit me: We are all THAT mom. Or dad. Or person.
There are days when we feel like utter failures, when everything seems off, when we feel like hazards to the people we love. There are days when we feel we should be recalled. That some big announcement should be made alerting the world to our resident flaws, declaring that there are grave dangers inherent in our very design, that we are not fit for our particular purpose.
But then, thankfully, there are days when this seems extreme. When our imperfections are but exquisite scars earned in the game of life. When the fact that we are trying, and trying hard, counts for something. More than something. When the fact that we fumble and stumble, constantly, artfully almost, is what makes things interesting. And real. And worth it.
Thank you to a certain anonymous mom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And thank you to so many of you for reading my ramblings, for digesting my doubts, for sharing with me bits and pieces of your imperfect selves, for reminding me that I do not need to be recalled, for reminding me that I am not alone. That I am far from alone.
(Mom, Grammy, World—I am going to go pick up those protective parts tomorrow. Promise.)