A few weeks ago I was watching my grandkids so their mommy could go to an appointment. We planned to meet up with her later at the local Target store. My granddaughter asked if she could choose her own outfit and I agreed.
I really wish I had a better picture to show you because the outfit she chose was truly … umm, hideous. She had on an orange floral dress, royal blue patent leather shoes, a grey sweater, lots of gaudy plastic beaded jewelry, and a huge blue butterfly pinned to her hair.
Fortunately her one year old brother wasn’t at the stage of wanting to pick out his own clothes yet, so I dressed him and we headed out to meet their mom at Target.
Wandering the aisles of Target with a four year old and a one year old is pretty much like herding cats. Baby boy did not understand why he couldn’t run free like his sister and he let the entire store know his displeasure. His sister was chattering nonstop and running in every direction to show me something new she discovered. I was exhausted and decided we would head to the café area to wait for mommy.
My granddaughter immediately zoned in on the hideous blue “icee” drinks. I’m pretty sure those drinks are 100% sugar with no nutritional value at all. I’m also pretty sure her mom doesn’t let her buy them. But, hey, I’m the grandma so a blue sugar drink was what she got. I also bought a bottle of diet soda and some chocolate (but, that was mostly for me!).
So, there we sat, Nora with blue lips and teeth, dressed in her crazy outfit with her butterfly barely hanging on to a piece of her hair, and me giving brother sips from my cola bottle and bites from my chocolate.
And then it happened. A young mom came and sat at the table next to us with her two kids.
Her kids were clean and their clothes matched. They were quiet and well-behaved. They sat in their chairs without bouncing around like yo-yos. Their mother took plastic containers out of her bag and proceeded to give her kids a snack too. But, instead of blue icees, diet pop and chocolate, her containers held sliced cucumbers and black beans. Black beans! And, they were eating them without complaint!
I looked at her table and then looked back at my blue-faced granddaughter and my grandson who was swigging soda from a pop bottle. A pile of empty chocolate wrappers gave evidence to what WE had for a snack and the difference between our two tables could not have been more dramatic.
When I was younger, this would have killed me. I would have been so embarrassed and it would have bothered me for days. This time, I just laughed.
“Black-bean-momma”, I say, “Good for you.” You’re doing a great job. Your kids are eating healthily and they’re compliant and well-behaved.
And, “Chocolate Grandma”, guess what? You are also doing a great job. You are giving the kids a taste of freedom and silliness and choice (It should be noted that my granddaughter has already deemed icees to be gross and doesn’t want them anymore).
Comparisons can hurt. Usually, when we compare, it only serves to make us feel inferior. Life is hard. Parenting is harder. Let’s lighten up and give ourselves a break. After all, God made us different for a reason. I say, “Vive La Diffe’rence!”