Friday, June 24, 2011

Other Mothers

It's been a while since I last took Waleed to storytime. I need to take him. But its during his nap time. But he needs social interaction. Bad mom if I do, bad mom if I don't, I changed his clothes put on his shoes strapped him in the car seat and headed to the library. As I opened his door to get him out of the car I looked at his feet. No shoes. He kicked them off before we got out of the house I realized. Fumbling through the diaper bag hoping in that moment for a magic pair of extra shoes I realized I also forgot his sippy cup filled with ice-cold water on the breakfast table. As the sun beamed down on us, I imagined myself bringing my barefoot baby into story time, the looks of disdain of the other mothers at because

other mothers strap on shoes with socks to boot
other mothers have extra sippy cups just incase one is lost along the way
other mothers never bring the wipes and forget the diapers
other mothers always smile. keep spotless homes. point out everything in the grocery aisles. and wipe the applesauce from their child's cheek before guests arrive.
other mothers are better mothers than I'll ever be.

I heard a car door slam. A mother in a yellow sundress plucked her chubby baby girl in pink from the back of her sleek black car and strolled her towards the library. As she walked past us I saw Waleed stare at them with a wide-eyed grin and suddenly illogical as it was I thought, he recognizes this other mother. He knows. I'm not like her at all.

In that moment I felt tempted, so tempted, to close the door, get in the car and drive home.

Instead, we went to the library. We sat in the middle row and as I sat him in my lap I looked over at another child walking about barefoot. And another. And then yet another. Some mothers proferring sippy cups, some with slim purses that seemed to hold nothing. I suddenly feel lighter.

Maneuvering through the library aisles after, I paused behind a woman blocking the aisle with her stroller. She glanced to see me waiting and blushed, I am so sorry she said as she moved to the side. No problem I said as I walked past her. Her little boy, a child of three, gap toothed with straight blond hair flushed at this. Don't say that! don't say sorry! he yelled. It's rude not to say sorry when you've done something wrong, his mother said in a soothing voice. The boy stared at her for a moment his mouth parted, and then puffed up his chest, crossed his arms and screamed so loud not a person in the library could have misunderstood YOU ARE RUDE TO ME AND YOU NEVER SAY SORRY! WHY YOU SAY SORRY TO OTHER PEOPLE ONLY?

All heads turned towards them. I saw her through the corner of my eye, frozen in place by her son's words. She glanced at me for a moment, and then quietly strolled her son away. And I realized, in that moment, as she saw me with my own toddler who at that moment was browsing a board book while I looked at books for myself- I became the other mother. 

It used to be that I felt my self-esteem drop three notches staring at the photo-shopped celebs hawking new diet solutions at the check-out aisle, now its other mothers be it through bubbly updates of motherhood bliss on facebook, or the mother singing like she's Mary Poppins to her darling child in the grocery aisle [yes, really]. The look on this mother's face as she quietly left the library told me I'm not the only one who does this. As women, we do this. We judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else ever could. There are always going to be other mothers. Me? I'm his mother. Imperfect, learning as I go, flawed at best. But I love him. I'd walk on hot coals for him. Juggle them too if necessary. I will never reach the standard of the other mother, but I don't know if any mother ever can. I just hope when he's fully grown, he will look past the things I did wrong, and remember the one thing I did right, which is love him with everything that I am.

20 comments:

Julia Munroe Martin said...

He will definitely remember. (And this is a great reminder in life, writing as in motherhood, we often are the "other mother".... I forget it so frequently!)

Anonymous said...

Sniff, loved it!

Aisha said...

Julia, I agree, we all hold ourselves to standards higher than fair in many facets of our life- in some ways its good because it helps us strive to improve ourselves but it shouldn't be a negative thing for us either that brings us down if we fail to live up.

Thanks Anon :)

raisingbrainchild said...

I am constantly doing this, like today at music class as Bear kept licking the mat we were all sitting on while the other children contentedly tapped their sticks in time to the music. I agree that everyone must do it, but it is too easy to beat yourself up for whatever shortcoming you feel at that moment. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone!

raisingbrainchild said...

By the way, I love that picture of Waleed. What a great moment!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... other mothers? Others? People do this, people do that...? Not that you don't know it but we are all a set of me's and I's hun. I bet we are those others for some.
We are what we are, limited in many ways and that is fine as long as we keep on trying to be better.
Lots of love.
A.

Anonymous said...

And what beats living this beautifully captured moment with your son!
:)
A.

katery said...

not this mother, this mother makes all kinds of mistakes. i tried to bring louise to story time at the library last week and she screeched and wiggled out of my lap. i had to leave so the other attendees could enjoy their experience.

Aisha said...

Thanks Raising, I am glad you can relate- I KNOW you're a great mom- so if you feel that way too then its a very normal way to feel.

A, definitely! It's part of human nature I think. Sad, but true and something as women in particular we have to make sure to tackle. Thanks for the nice words about the picture :)

Kate, was it her first time?? Aww! Give it another try for sure- hopefully she'll like the next one! W loves loves loves large groups, but I have seen some other kids who at first were upset there, and over time grew accustomed and even enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, I can totally relate.
Natalie

Anonymous said...

I have a 6 year old girl and a 4 year old boy, and I felt just like this until my daughter was about halfway through kindergarten last year. I got her first report card and she had blown away all the end-of-year benchmarks by the end of first marking period, the teachers loved her, she was the one who got to take the attendance to the office every morning because she was the only one who could be trusted. And it suddenly dawned on me: I'm doing a GREAT job! I'm a GREAT mom! My kids and their actions speak for my parenting skill. They are GREAT kids. Sure, with every decision you make you worry if you're either doing the right thing or scarring them for life, and really you won't know until they're 18 and either at Harvard or in jail whether you were successful, but just go with your instinct and don't judge yourself by what the Other Mothers do. You don't see what goes on behind the scenes in those homes. And only surround yourself with other moms who are like you--we have a group where we pretty much force the kids to be friends and go to movies together and playdates just because WE like each other and we don't make each other feel bad about ourselves. We ARE the Other Mothers' Club.

katery said...

it was her first time, she wasn't upset to be there, she just wanted to get out of my lap and do god knows what! louise is mesmerized by crowds, but we live in a small town, so there was only about ten people total there, she isn't mesmerized by ten people, lol! i think we will try again in a few months.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

awomanmyage said...

Oh, I know that feeling. Once when I took the Precious to a music class and he seemed to want to be with anyone else but me. I felt like everyone would realize that I was not his "real" mother. Why didn't he just want to cling to me and sit in my lap like all the other kids. Surely, I had done something wrong somehow. I wasn't skinny, wearing clean, fashionable clothes with heels. I was wearing dog covered black yoga pants, my back hurt, I was hungry, tired and would have preferred to hang out with the mums having coffee, not trying to turn my son into a musical genius, go grocery shopping, feed him lunch and put him down for a nap in record time.

We can be so hard on ourselves, so judgmental, we compare ourselves to women in magazines with f/t baby nurses, personal trainers and personal hairdressers.Even our husbands feels we shouldn't miss a beat - after all, their mothers had several kids and DID IT ALL according to them, so what's our problem?

Aisha said...

Natalie, thank you for letting me know this meant something to you.

Kate, at my storytime ALL the kids are wandering around and hardly any are in their mother's lap. We also have 60-100 people at storytime many weeks so imagine the chaos, lol :) Hopefully you guys can try again!

Anon, thanks for your comment :)

A woman my age, I can relate to you COMPLETELY while I think its important for W to have these social interactions, actually doing them, bores me to pieces, the play dates, the storytime, all of it, is kind of boring- and then I feel guilty for finding it boring, but WHY should I be entertained by a sing song about how many toes I have- I mean, I love that he's loving it, but I don't have to love it on my own right?! Yes, too much pressure to be perfect, and no our mothers and their mothers didn't do it all with their sanity intact for sure!

Aamina said...

I think you are a wonderful mommy to Waleed! It's easy to compare yourself to other moms but look at your kid- he is always happy and smiling mashallah, must mean you are doing something right :)

iamstacey said...

I love your thought that ultimately, what they'll remember is how much we loved them. I hope that's true for Davie, too!

Aisha said...

Aw Aamina, I love ya, and you know, he's super happy when you're around because your'e his #1 best friend ever! COMEBACKVISITAGAINNOW Mk? :)

Stacey, I know Davie will!

PandaBear said...

Don't feel bad - I forget something every time we leave the house. Wipes but no diaper - bag but no shoes - cup but no juice - etc. etc. etc. I always look crazy too, like with hair pulled over to one side where little grabby baby hands have pulled it, am covered in sticky, etc. I need to take our baby out more, she has not had that much social interaction with other kids and I think she needs that.

men room said...

the baby so cute!!!!

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