Hi. You don’ t know me. I’m the mom with 3 kids walking/running/whining/moping/yelling/laughing/skipping around. Sometimes we are all happy and cooperative. Sometimes, for about .5 seconds, we’re relatively quiet and calm. Mostly we are running around doing home and family stuff–errands, shopping, playdates, excursions, etc. Usually we look like most every other mom and kids, trying to balance everyone’s needs and have fun while doing it. We look like we’re modeling kinetic motion for a science class. There are days when we’re cranky, loud, ill-tempered, and out of sorts.
Regardless of how we are acting when you meet up with us, I need a few things from you. First, I need eye contact. It’s a simple thing, but I rarely get it anymore. Not even from the people paid to give me a little customer service. Today I went to 4 different stores for various errands, and I didn’t get one solid look in the eye. When you say “hello!”, look at me. When I say “I need some help finding ‘x'”, look at me and say “OK!” instead of silently leading me on a wild chase trying to keep up. When I say, “Thanks for your help!”, it’s courteous to say “Your welcome” while looking at the person instead of slinking off or grunting. Being at home most of the day with my kids, I really do enjoy getting out and interacting with other people…so please, just look at me!
Also, please chill out. I know that most people, without kids, can do 2342934802934 more things 34980348 times quicker at any given time. I know that my kids like to stop right in the middle of the grocery aisle, heedless that you are behind them. You see, they put things on the bottom shelves that no one but kids can see, and it’s distracting for all involved. I wish they wouldn’t do that. But I digress. When you see my child oogling the fruit crack and poptarts, please stop for a minute while I retrieve them. Please do not keep barreling down on them while hissing at me. All I need is to get a hand free and I can assure you will have a speedy trip through. And when you give a dismissive, “Excuse ME” which really means “You and your monkey kids are ruining my land speed record at the store.” will you please look at me while you say it?
If you are waiting for my parking spot in a crowded lot, and notice that I have a weeks worth of groceries to unload AND 3 kids AND a dropped blankie AND seat belts to latch….can you not honk at me? I assumed this was just common sense and courtesy, but apparently not, as you’ve done it more than once. And if you must honk, will you please do it while looking at me rather than cursing into your rearview and side mirrors?
Thirdly, can you please help. I don’t mean take over diaper duties or discipline or an any way handle my kids. I just mean in an overall ‘we’re all in this together’, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, neighborly kind of way. Here’s the deal. One day, I’m hoping my kids will be really solid contributers to society. Someday they will vote, shape laws, help educate, create their own families, hold steady jobs, pay into (your!) social security, and form a community of caring people for you to depend on when you’re old and gray. But for now they’re just kids, and they need caring, compassionate, helpful adults that will help model good behavior.
I really appreciated the entire airplane of people helping out that one trip I took with just my kids and I. How could I have known The Golfer would throw up the entire 4 hours? I know it was really unpleasant for all involved. I was embarrased and frustrated trying to help him while taking care of The Naturalist and holding The Sassy Princess on my lap. (At that time, she was only the Sassy 4 month old.) I could have cried when the nice lady sitting a row behind me offered to hold the Sassy Baby AND give her a bottle. I was beside myself when people from all the rows around me started handing me their throw up bags when I had run out (and after the stewardes had run out, literally, leaving me to fend for myself). Bless the heart of the men who kept going to the bathroom to wet napkins and give them to me.
The fact is, any mom with more than one kid with her is at a disadvantage. It means there will be things going on out of our control, reach, eyesight, and earshot. Every time I go out, I am at the mercy of people and things not entirely of my doing. I know that often this gets in your way, or is annoying, or delays you in some form. I really appreciate the people who can make a joke, or help redirect, or just take a second to slow down while I do my mom duties. In short, the people who value my job as a mom/caretaker/nosewiper/buttwiper/seargeant/snack packer/pack horse. In exchange, I am trying to help my kids value and respect all of you dear people that we meet during our day.
If this is too much to ask, and you insist on acting more impatient/intolerant/whiny/huffy/selfish than my 3 year old….as is the case for today in particular…well, there’s no help for it. I finish the day and hope for a better tomorrow. And exchange knowing glances with the mom—who actually does look me in the eye–that I pass in the aisle with kids and food tumbling out of the cart. It’s a jungle out there, but there is strength in numbers.