Mothers don’t get enough credit
Motherhood is one of those things that we’re never quite prepared for. We think we are, because we’ve read books, listened to podcasts and chatted extensively with other moms, but until we’ve experienced a 4-year-old throwing up on top of our sleeping head at 2 a.m., we just can’t quite grasp what it’ll really be like.
Our Florida kids had moved into a new home and realized right away that their new neighbors were wonderful people. As a welcome gift, the neighbors brought over pastries, fruit and small toys for the four children. Soon, the kids were invited to backyard get-togethers with the Jackson’s, and if there was a need, the kind husband would do his utmost to help out with changing a tire or fixing the lawnmower. I tell you all this because one day, a few weeks after our kids moved in, they went outside to watch the children skateboard in the driveway. Ryder, who’d just turned 4, spotted Mr. Jackson and marched right up to him like he had a serious message to deliver. The man knelt down and Ryder, looking him directly in the eye, matter-of-factly stated, “You shouldn’t drink water out of the toilet, it’ll make you sick.” Everyone laughed heartily, except for Wendy, Ryder’s mother. Calling me later that evening to tell me of my grandson’s shenanigans, she chortled, “I was so embarrassed, I immediately felt the need to explain, ‘He has never drunk from the toilet.’”
Last summer while out of town visiting our offspring, I was walking the track near their home and saw a young couple playing volleyball in a sand pit. I barely noticed the guy, who was wearing a tank top and shorts, but the 20-something woman was remarkable. She had a golden tan, with long, lovely legs and beautiful, blonde hair twisted into a stylish coif at her neck. Clad in a tiny bikini, her perfect skin glistened with what I’m guessing was a delicious-smelling coconut product. Her belly was flat and her teeth were white and she smiled widely at her partner as she schooled him with her ball playing skills. You might guess any one of these thoughts would have been what I dwelt on, but nope, that’s not how it occurs in a maternal brain. My first and lasting notion was, “Slathered in all that oil, I hope she doesn’t fall down or she’s gonna pack a bucket of sand back to the car.” Once a mother-always a mother.
Recently, I found myself in a parking area filled with hundreds of shopper’s vehicles. As I walked along, I noticed a young mother getting a wagon out of the back of an SUV. She looked a little worn out as hair escaped from the bun at the crown of her head, and her handbag hung in the crook of her arm where it had slid from her shoulder. Breathless, she pulled then pushed, then heaved the heavy apparatus up and over blankets stored in the car. I could hear a toddler howling from his car seat and my heart went out to her. She struggled a minute more, then was finally able to yank the wagon free, just in time to have a wheel come off and roll under the car. Stooping, she looked under, then got down on her hands and knees and was able to retrieve it. Straightening, she calmly cooed soothing words to the screaming child and diligently attached the loose wheel. I watched as she took a deep breath and staring into the distance, smoothed the strands of hair from her face. By this time, I was parallel with her, but on the opposite side of the road, so I paused to take in the scene, mesmerized at her grace and patience.
She walked to the side of the car, opened the door and helped her little boy out and onto the ground. Expertly, she began maneuvering him around to the back and held his hand while also retrieving a blanket from the car. One handed, she smoothed it into the bottom of the wagon then lifting her child, she held him on her hip, pulled a Kleenex from the side pocket of her purse and gently wiped his nose. Finally, kissing him on the cheek, she sat him down inside the wagon. Not for the first time, I mused, “Mothers do not get enough credit for not walking headlong into 5 o’clock traffic.” Hats off and high fives to mothers everywhere.