It was Saturday night and I was standing barefoot in my friend’s kitchen. She had just handed out shots of some intense drink, which I was about to mix into my pint glass of sparkling water. Evidently the ounce of burgundy-colored liquid was loaded with antioxidants and vitamins made from the tears of laughing angels, and maybe blueberries.
Personally, I do enjoy a good glass of Chardonnay when barefoot in my kitchen or a friend’s kitchen, but it didn’t matter to me. I was just so happy to be around a few other women who also seemed happy to be around a few other women.
I didn’t show up to her house to party like we did in college. I showed up to her house to connect with other people above the collective age of six, which is the average age of the crowd I typically run with, and we are also usually barefoot.
There we were sipping our ultra-healthy drinks, chatting about stuff, when one mom asked, “How do you feel when you’re at a store and you hear another baby crying?”
She answered her own question first, and said she usually feels a deep need to run around the store, following the sound of crying until she discovers the source. Then she stands there a bit awkward and wonders if she could just scoop the baby up into her arms.
I told her I get what she’s saying. I once upon a time also felt that way. A time before I had kids. Now I feel more of a deep camaraderie among my people. I don’t mean I actually know that mom or her crying baby, but I understand her.
I’ve stood in your shoes, swaying back and forth in aisle seven rocking my newborn, when all I wanted to be was home in PJs and cozy socks. Standing there with bags under my eyes slowly blinking at 16 brands of pasta and trying to make a simple purchasing decision. Trying to be semi productive with my day while being totally distracted by the sound of my baby. Also sleep deprived, hungry and probably having to pee (me, not my baby).
Have you ever driven down the road behind a motorcycle and witnessed the motorcycle hand wave? It’s a little wave each biker gives to an oncoming biker just as they pass each other going opposite directions. It doesn’t matter if the driver is riding a Harley, Yamaha or Honda. They wave to each other, because they’re connected by the ride. That’s how I feel when I pass another mom with a melting down child in a store. I want to discretely, but with intention, raise my free hand and wave to her. Sending her a message of solidarity on her ride. I see her and validate her with a purposeful wave that also says, “You are brave and courageous. You’ve got this. You’re not alone. Keep riding!”
Doing simple things with little kids isn’t as easy as it looks from far away, and in the same breath sometimes it sounds worse than it really is. It’s equal parts hard and amazing. There are days filled with meltdowns and cuddles and maybe lasagna in your pantry when what you really needed for that simple quick recipe was rotini, but whatever, because at least you made the decision and then rode home safely.
My answer to the mom, also sipping on sparkling water with a shot of special juice, was probably way longer than she expected. But she kindly listened. And that’s what we do as moms. We listen, wave a hand and say without words: I see you mama, you’ve got this. Enjoy the ride, barefoot or otherwise.
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