And you think some variation of "Don't miss this, Mom!" or even worse, "Why have them if you aren't going to pay attention to them?!"
I'll confess I've had those thoughts, though usually not from just one moment of observation. After yesterday, I'm going to be even slower to leap to conclusions.
See, I haven't blogged about it yet, but my mom died this week. I got the call on my birthday, though she didn't actually die until the next morning.
|One of my very favorite photos of Mom|
It was sudden.
It was unexpected.
I'm still shell-shocked. Or numb. Or completely overwhelmed.
That depends on the moment you ask.
Yesterday, I had some running to do. Richard and Trina each had $50 to spend at Family Christian for their birthdays, and there was a big sale on everything in the kids' department. That meant they went along, which was a good thing. But we had to hit a grocery store, and the bank, and get crickets for the gecko, and I don't even remember what else.
I melted down in the parking lot at church (we stopped there first) because the stupid truck wouldn't go into the right gear, and then I started spinning the wheels, and the kids are giggling and telling me, "Mom, everyone is staring at you!"
Not my best moment. This is a family blog, so I'm not going to repeat what I said to someone who walked over to me. At least I know him, and he knows I was just a wee bit out of character.
At Family Christian, the kids are bringing me adorable things like a Lego-like Noah's Ark and asking me how much that will be after the 30% off, and instead of rattling off an answer, I just stare at it and try to remember how to multiply. That wasn't so bad -- math anxiety doesn't make you a bad mother.
Then we went to grab some lunch, because I knew they needed to eat something real. On the Border. So while we are waiting for a table, I'm on the phone -- ignoring my children -- trying to figure out if the van has been rented.
Once we are seated, I'm on my iPad, checking email. Responding to my cousin who is expressing shock and condolences and letting me know that he'll be picking up his parents (Mom's sister) at the airport and driving them up to Fargo. Responding to someone else that no, we still don't know for sure on the funeral because we still don't know when/if they are going to get Mom out of Texas and back to North Dakota. Finding that no, I don't have a car rental confirmation in my email.
Of course, I called Dad to let him know that my aunt and uncle are coming. And I had to call to try to straighten out the reservation. And I checked Facebook and responded to some condolences. And somewhere in there, I helped my kids make decisions about what to eat and I looked at my menu too.
Oh, and -- I confess -- I spent a bit of time just chatting on FB with a friend.
What I didn't do is pay any attention to my kids. At all.
My eyes were stuck on my iPad, my ear was stuck to my cell phone, and while I can tell you what they ate, I honestly have no idea if it was good. Well, I assume so, as Trina declared this is her new favorite restaurant. I did hear that.
I also heard the two of them chatting about how this was the best day ever and they were having such a good time.
I wondered, briefly, what people around us thought. But honestly, I was just doing my best to get through the moment that I can't say I much cared.
The grocery store too, I wondered briefly what people thought. There I was buying cases of Mountain Dew, cans of Pringles (the world's most disgusting snack food ever, in my opinion), beef jerkey, granola bars, fruit snacks, string cheese, sandwich meat, sliced cheese, bread... and I'm pretty sure that covers the contents of my cart.
I let the kids push the cart, which they weren't exactly doing in a nice, calm fashion. They never ran into anyone, I will say that. But I'll also say, I'm not sure how.
And I'm standing in front of the cheese display, just staring at it, trying to remember why I'm there.
I'm sure someone at Super Target was thinking I don't deserve to have kids and I'm letting them run out of control. And, of course, what kind of person buys so much JUNK? And snaps at the kids too.
On the other hand, there was some older guy I had noticed from a ways off, who looked a lot like me -- you know, the weight of the world on his shoulders, and like he wasn't quite sure what he was doing. He stopped his cart at one point, turned around, marched over to my goofing-off kids, and said, "Grocery shopping is serious business. You are not supposed to be having this much fun." He winked at me, and grinned when the kids giggled.
So maybe not everyone was thinking I'm a horrible mom.
And the bottom line is, my kids know that I'm just a wee bit stressed this week, and they understand. They are trying not to make random noises when I tell them I'm at a breaking point, and they are enjoying jumping in snowdrifts in the parking lot, or savoring a good meal. Their opinions are the ones that matter.
I already was pretty good at telling myself -- when I'd see someone like the me of yesterday -- that all I'm seeing is a snapshot, a sound bite. That I have no idea what is going on in their life.
Yesterday really brought that into focus for me.
Take the next step. Do the next thing.