In my left arm, I was juggling my leftover coffee, the diaper bag, a 23-pounder, and my son’s clammy hand while my right hand blindly fumbled for my keys in the diaper bag (the one that had turned all Mary Poppins on me)…all while attempting to safely cross the Chick-fil-A parking lot and avoid the “mini-van-mom.”
You know who I’m talking about, right? The “mini-van-mom” who peals into the parking lot doing 42 MPH on an “8-count nugget mission”…the one who almost side-swiped you at the library with her 31 tote and 22 picture books…the one who has a Venti in her hand and doesn’t stop and look both ways at the end of the grocery aisles…the one who hogs the $1 aisle at Target!?!? Yeah, that one!
Though my ears could hear their jingle, my right hand was unsuccessful at securing the keys.
Why does something like this have to be so hard!?!?!?!
With a heavy sigh, I plopped my coffee down on the cold asphalt and safely herded both kids into the 18 inch space between our car and the neighboring car. Furiously, I began hunting for my over-sized key ring. Within seconds I found a crusty goldfish, a loose sock, a matchbox car, a crumpled diaper, a dirty bib, a stuffed Chihuahua (no, I am not kidding)…and then my keys.
Unlocking the car, I told my son to “hurry up and get in the car” while I attempted to smoosh my daughter (along with her “poofy coat”) into her car seat. Running to the other side of the vehicle, I clicked my son’s seat belt and then ran back to my side of the car. Rescuing my coffee (no drip will be left behind), I jumped into the car.
The clock read 11:04. WHEW! We were slated to meet my mom for an 11:00 lunch at Fazoli’s, so we weren’t running too terribly late.
With a dramatic exhale, I threw the KIA into reverse. But before I let my foot off the brake, my ever-observant son says…
“Mommy, I’m sorry that it’s so hard being a parent.”
I’m not sure what my face looked like, but I imagine that it looked shocked…like the kind of shock you get when the cashier at McDonald’s says the ice cream machine is broken and there will be no .49 cent cones for you and your loved ones. Yeah, like that kind of shocked.
I decided to play dumb.
“Oh, buddy…why are you saying that? What do you mean?”
“I just know that it’s a lot of work and Evie and I aren’t always very easy.”
My eyes watered and my heart sank.
I was embarrassed.
Because I didn’t want him to realize that in that moment, something that should feel so simple, so easy, so light,…like crossing a parking lot while juggling two kids and trying to find my keys… felt really hard for me.
I felt weak.
I felt…found out.
Not only had my boy observed “my hard,” but he had also recognized that he was part of “my hard.”
In that moment, I wanted to push away his empathy.
I wanted to pass it off as “no big deal.”
I wanted to pronounce that he and his sister are “easy” and that my loads are “light.”
I wanted to pretend that navigating a parking lot with two children and maintaining a schedule with those same two kids is as “simple as pie.”
I wanted to pacify his worries about “my hard.”
I wanted to protect him from feeling responsible for “my hard.”
In that moment, I wanted SO VERY, VERY BADLY to pretend that it was “easy.”
But I couldn’t…and I didn’t.
Because I don’t want my kids to grow up believing that their mom doesn’t struggle.
Because I don’t want my kids thinking that their mom has it “all-together” ALL the time.
Because I don’t want my kids assuming that their mom never has days where sometimes the “should be simple” feels overwhelming and hard.
Because I don’t want my kids adopting the belief that it’s only “okay” to struggle when it’s “big.”
“Oh, buddy…you’re right. It’s not always easy being a parent, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love you and Evie very, VERY much and though it’s not always easy, I am so thankful for what it’s teaching me. Thank you for being so kind and caring.”
And as he responded with a cheerful, “You’re welcome, Mommy,” I couldn’t help but think that what he was really saying was…
“Mommy, I’m so glad I could help you realize that it’s okay to struggle…even with the simple.”
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7