Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Mothers at the Winco.

So, I had to go to the Winco for groceries. This is not an odd event; usually we do the grocery shopping once-a-week or so. On this particular Saturday morning it was me and the Lana-girl. We’d had a rough night. Lana was fighting a cold and needed some loves in the middle of the night, so my good buddy Sleep and I didn’t meet up until far too late.
I’m usually not one to care much about what I look like at the grocery store, but that morning I set the bar especially low. I noticed as I was getting dressed that spit-up had dried on my jeans, I didn’t bother to comb my hair and just threw it back in a pony-tail. The right shoulder of my coat had bits of dried baby snot ground into the corduroy and a giant red pimple had taken up residence below my left nostril. Let’s just say my appearance was far less than appealing. But I didn’t really care. I am a very goal-oriented person and the goal of that moment was to get the groceries, not strut in a fashion show. Or so I thought.
As I hauled Lana, my purse and the re-usable shopping bags into the store, I noticed another Mom doing the identical thing. Our actions were similar, but we couldn’t have been more different. She was gorgeous in her fresh make-up, curled hair and trendy Old Navy cardigan. Her denim capris showed the world that post-baby weight was certainly not a problem for her, and her shoes, oh her shoes! Her shoes are what really got my attention. She wore gorgeous, expensive-looking, strappy sandals with very high heels. She looked like a mom ready for a magazine photoshoot.
As I struggled with getting the baby seat situated on the shopping cart, Photoshoot Mom breezed by me, having no trouble snapping her little girl in the cart. She looked at me and we both gave each other a quick smile. I noticed her little daughter looked as if she just crawled out of a Baby Gap commercial. Her outfit was clean and pressed and shiny blonde curls framed her round angelic face. She was adorable. Certainly not as adorable as Lana, but very lovely none-the-less. Photoshoot Mom glanced at Lana, but instead of smiling, like most people do when they see her cherub face, she kind of grimaced. What?!? First you make me feel crappy by being all perfect, but then you grimace at my pretty baby. Uh, no. I don’t think so. But then I see why she’s actually grimacing. Lana’s runny nose was working overtime and snot covered her face. I dug through my purse for a tissue and cleaned up my baby as best as I could, but alas, some had already dried to her chubby cheeks and even the neck of her pink coat was decorated with dried snot. I imagined the judgmental thoughts this other mother must be thinking of me. She had to be thinking that I was probably both a terrible wife and mother. A terrible wife because if I couldn’t be bothered to look decent in public, how disheveled must I appear to my husband on a daily basis? And a terrible mother because everybody knows you must most certainly lack proper parenting skills if your baby has a dirty face and dirty clothes in the aisle of the grocery store. At that moment, I would have heartily agreed with what I thought she was thinking of me.
Apparently Photoshoot Mom and I “do” Winco in the same pattern, as it seemed I followed her from section to section. The whole time, she happily chatted to her babbling daughter. I fumbled with my list and dropped the coupons. My normally easy-going daughter sneezed a few times, making an even bigger snot mess and repeatedly spit her bink out, but then cried to have it back.
I kept watching Photoshoot Mom and started to wonder about her. What kind of a life did she lead that she could look so lovely and well-rested on a Saturday morning? Surely she lived a life of leisure and had a personal stylist and an entire domestic staff at her disposal. Surely she was not up at all hours in the night rocking and comforting her sick baby. Surely her life was easy and she glided through her days effortlessly. If indeed envy is a dragon with emerald eyes, my scales were starting to show and my blue eyes were turning green.
Photoshoot Mom and I checked out at the same time and walked across the parking lot to our cars. She loaded her groceries and child into her car and I did the same. We both drove away, she presumably to her castle on the hill.
I had about a forty minute drive home to dwell on the two very different mothers spending a portion of their morning at the Winco. I am ashamed to admit that I spent the majority of that time stewing in envy. I was jealous, plain and simple. I was mad that her charmed life appeared to be so easy, whereas I was struggling with mine.
A sound from the backseat jolted me out of my self-imposed pity party. In the mirror I saw Lana turn her head from one side to the other and then contentedly sigh as she drifted back to sleep. Even in her dirty coat and snot-smeared face, she was so beautiful. Right then I wanted to pull the car over and weep. How in the world could I ever be envious of anybody? There, in the backseat of my car, was more love and joy and happiness than some people experience in their entire lifetime.
I was humbled by an 8-month old baby girl. Lana, beautiful, sweet, lovely Lana, was content to snuggle in her seat. Her desires were simple. She was happy to be held and rocked and fed and loved. She doesn’t know envy yet. I need to be a good example for her, so she doesn’t know what jealousy is for a very long time. I also need to take a lesson from my daughter and be pleased with what I have and with who I am. Sometimes I forget that I am blessed beyond measure and I’m grateful for the tiny teacher in the backseat who is there to remind me.

A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. Proverbs 14:30


Anita Cory said...

Shelle, this post moved me to tears.

You are a lovely woman with a precious daughter. Your beauty is inside you and except for apparently this one crazy morning, your outside matches the inside quite well.

Lana (and Dan) and lucky humans.

Deanna King said...

I am with Anita...your story was a great teaching moment for me too! I have recently struggled with envy and am not sure I have snapped out of THANK YOU for letting me borrow your 8 month old teacher!

mommyneedsanap said...

What a great lesson Shelle, not just for you, but for me as well. Why is it so easy sometimes to look at all of the things we "want" rather than being so, so, so happy with what we have?

Thanks for sharing!

AngMomof3 said...

Been thinking on this one for awhile. I've been there, felt that.
Sometimes I think this:
Want, want, want... need, need, need...
I try to realize this:
Have. Have Have. More than I deserve.

Shelle and Dan said...

Thank you, Friends. I appreciate your kind words and the shared feelings.