Yesterday was the first rainy day since school started a couple of weeks ago. It was a day that I’d been dreading, mostly because I knew it would make after school pickup time a total pain. My kids’ elementary school is so close that I try to walk when it’s nice, but a rainy day meant driving the short distance to school, fighting for a parking spot and then standing in the rain with my toddler waiting for both kids’ classes to release. Dread.
I was outside the school, crouching with my 2-year-old, huddled under an Elmo umbrella. We were actually fighting over the umbrella — her, wanting to hold it but not having the strength to keep it upright, me, insisting that she needed my help, my back getting drenched — when I heard a mom offering another mom her umbrella. The mom was holding a toddler of her own and had forgotten her umbrella. I could tell she didn’t necessarily want to accept the offer from the mom who was insisting — she was wearing a rain slicker and had a layer of protection — but her mom instinct to try to keep her baby dry won out and she accepted the help. Embarrassed, she said, “I’m totally that mom.”
That mom. That mom who forgot her umbrella. That mom who was unprepared. That mom who needed help. That mom who “failed.”
I said, “We’re all that mom. Some of us just got lucky today and had umbrellas.”
We’ve all been that mom.
That mom who probably had to wake up the baby early from her nap to get to pickup on time. That mom who threw a shoeless baby into the car so she could be on time when her kids hit the school doors. That mom who had to change a diaper five minutes before leaving for school drop-off or pickup. That mom who hasn’t yet made it out to do the winter coat shopping when the first cold day hits so she skates by one more day with hooded sweatshirts. That mom who was up all night with a crying, feverish baby and can’t remember if it’s Tuesday or Wednesday even if she thinks really hard. That mom who makes it to the car on a rainy day, thinking there will be an umbrella or two there before remembering too late that she let the kids take them inside for a sword fight one bright sunny day.
The need to get it right, to do it all, runs deep in all the moms I see. And it’s great to want to be the best moms we can be. But it’s also OK to be that mom. It’s OK to be human. To forget. It’s okay to accept help from other moms and not feel bad about it. The more we can give and receive help without judgment, the better off all moms are.
When was the last time you were that mom? I may have had an umbrella, but an hour later I was that mom whose toddler was giving herself a beard with a blue marker while we were waiting for gymnastics to let out. —Erin