To all of the moms who came before me, I owe you something. It might not be worth much, but you deserve my sincerest and most humble apology.
“Why?” you may ask. Well, wise ones, because for the 30 years of my life that preceded my journey into motherhood, I judged you. I jokingly and snarkily remarked that I, my completely carefree and childless self, was the best parent I knew. I mean what could you, who carried this precious life inside of you, know about being a parent that I didn’t?
I mean, surely, if I could see the snot dripping from your toddler’s nose into his mouth, then you could, too. And didn’t you know that it was going to be really hot at Jazz Fest before you brought your infant through the crowds so that you could enjoy yourself? What about the time you opened a bag of veggie straws in the middle of the grocery store because, God forbid, Little Sally had to wait until you have actually checked out to eat?
Remember, my friend, when you decided that you would rather a new jogging stroller for your birthday than the latest designer handbag? And what about the girls’ night where we talked about baby poop and its many shades of grey (before such a topic would have actually been cool) for three hours? And the time you missed a really important meeting because the baby was not feeling well? I do, because I remember thinking, “Who is this person and where has my friend gone?”
Where was the woman I knew who cared about what she looked like every morning? Where was the friend I had that could talk to me over several drinks about everything from the problems in Darfur to the problems in Britney Spears’ love life?
I realize now that you were there the whole time. It was me who, clouded by my judgment, couldn’t see you.
I couldn’t see that you didn’t wipe his nose because if you were only going to spend three hours a day with him, you didn’t want them to be tear filled. I didn’t know that you spent that day at Jazz Fest in hopes that a lifetime of memories made in New Orleans would be the reason your child would choose to spend her life here. I had no idea that if you had to hear your child cry over a snack product that you, too, would be in tears.
I had no idea that a jogging stroller was as special as it is. I didn’t know that it was the solution you devised to trying to get back into shape but still finding time to spend with your baby. I didn’t get how the color of your kids’ poop, if not normal, would make you panic that somthing was really wrong. And I certainly couldn’t comprehend what it would be like to look into your baby’s eyes when they are teary and glassy and begging you to make them feel better.
I wished I hadn’t thought you didn’t care about yourself. I wished I knew that you sped through getting ready so that you could soak in every last minute with your little one before you went to the office. I wish I had known that when I thought the only thing you could talk about was your kid that you were waiting for me to really listen. Because if I had been, I probably would have told you what a wonderful job you were doing.
You see, it is you who I look up to. It is you who I measure my success as a mother against. It is you, my friends, who taught me everything I know about motherhood. You were my example that a woman could be a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a professional and a volunteer. You showed me that life is not perfect and neither are we, but knowing what is truly important is as close as we will ever get. Now that I am a mother, I make every effort to never judge you. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we as women stood together and said, “No one parents better; we all just parent differently.” Here’s to seeing the best in you and you in me.