I think it must be how vividly lots of people remember these days with young ones. After chatting with them for a moment, I usually end up hearing about how they had 4, 5 or 6 kids and how they remember it like it was yesterday. They tell me they just wish they could go back, even with all the craziness that comes with having a bunch of young ones. They want to relive those days and just hold those little babies who are now all grown and out of their homes. They tell me their house is too quiet and they just wish they would have known how much they’d miss this.
See, I think a lot of us Moms interpret the ‘You’ve really got your hands full’ as ‘You don’t know where babies come from and you stink at Mothering‘. But, I don’t think that’s it. They aren’t telling us we don’t know how these children were made, we’re horrible Mothers, that our kids are out of control or that we stink at parenting. What I believe they’re wanting us to know is that they remember it all so well, that they survived and their kids too, sometimes acted slightly crazy in the store.
I purposefully smile and search for eye contact with elderly people when I’m grocery shopping now. I want to talk to them. Their stories sometimes make my whole shopping trip. For Pete’s sake, someday, I’m going to be the old lady wandering around the store, looking at the Mamas carrying babies, toddlers asking for cookies and preschoolers holding onto the carts. I’m going to wish it was me. Someday, I’m most likely going to feel like I’d give anything to shop with all of my kids again. I’m going to wish I had a reason to stop by the bakery and I’m going to wish I had kids in the cart I rehearsed ‘please and thank you’ with, as we walked up for that cookie.
I’ll probably be the annoying old lady who talks about my son who had the red curly hair and hopefully the Moms I bump into will take it the right way. Hopefully they’ll know I’m not telling them they’re doing it wrong, but that I remember.
I’ll never forget a conversation I recently had in the produce section with an elderly man. He started the conversation by asking how old my kids are and telling me that he used to have 3 little ones of his own. He shared with me that way back in the day, he used to take his family hiking and that he wore their baby on his back. Come on really, how cool is this guy? I didn’t know that 30+ years ago, families were going hiking and the Dads were babywearing! I shared with him that our family too, loves being outside and we feel like it’s never too early to take your kids out and find adventure.
I think a big thing we need to remember is when we’re in the store shopping, we’re often just trying to get it done, but the people we bump into who try to talk about our kids with us, have no where else to be. Lots of times, they get out only a few times a week and going to the grocery store can be a big deal for them. A lot of them are lonely. Like, really lonely and a conversation with a friendly Mom and a few cute kids can really brighten their day.
I’d hate to be part of a generation of women that is in such a hurry that we don’t feel like we can stop to chat. Or I’d hate to respond defensively to a comment that was just meant to start a conversation. These folks who ask about the kids, just share a smile or sometimes say really wacky things, have lived so much more life than I have. I believe most of the time, they mean nothing bad. When they say my hands are full, they’re just trying to acknowledge us and tell me they too, have been there. And they’re right. My hands ARE full. I’m usually a bit of a disaster, dropping my list, lugging around a baby, grabbing hands in the parking lot. I don’t have it all together and I’m not cool as a cucumber.
So, here’s my confession for Monday. I love talking with old folks in the store, I just do. When they tell me my hands are full, I see it as an opportunity to try and brighten their day.