Sometimes, being out in the world as a mom can feel just like a scene from the Hunger Games.
I am dead serious (no pun intended), and for those of you who do not regularly take young children to intense places like the grocery store or Target or (heaven forbid) a RESTAURANT, you may not truly understand… but I guarantee you have seen it in play.
Let’s explore the grocery store for instance. I recently took a trip to such a place this morning, with my 3 year old and 1 year old in tow. It was not a trip I wanted to make, it was somewhat coerced due to the rumbling bellies and the mouths that apparently wanted food to consume for lunch and yes, even dinner. 🙂
As I pondered whether or not to make the trip, I could hear my name being called from the stage in all the pomp: “Yes Sara Wood… You are the January 8th tribute chosen to brave the Food Lion arena. May the odds be ever in your favor!”
But, like the dauntless (wait… wrong movie) Katniss, I packed up my littles and we made our way there. If only I could have had some awesome burst-into-flames attire created by Cinna and a chariot with horses… although I was rocking my sports bra and jeggings in my minivan (giggle).
Once there, I made it through the first obstacles of unloading the boys and entering the arena: one in a cart and one with a hand which may not sound difficult but when the one in said cart decides he will not bend his legs and the one with said hand wants to run the whole way and the said cart is of course, the one that cannot drive straight without incredible force… it actually becomes quite the show.
Upon entering the arena, the games begin.
Literally, how quickly and effectively can I get in, actually get what I need, get out, still have both children somewhat safe, and still have enough sanity to get us home in one piece as a true victor (eating poison berries, while sometimes a legitimate concern due to those lovely bushes outside my house, is not an option). Not only do I have to complete all of the above (hopefully), but this is a PUBLIC arena, so I get to give it my best with tons of people watching me. Can you hear my enthusiasm?
Now, I will be completely honest here: sometimes, its not so bad. Sometimes, like this morning, my kids are on their absolute best behavior (thank you crackers in a snack container for the youngest, pint-sized drive your own grocery cart for the oldest, and sweet Jesus for the angels you obviously sent to keep them entertained and somewhat quiet). But sometimes, when the game makers decide to throw a curveball, my kids act like they have lost their minds and make a teeny tiny trip to the grocery store seem like a fight to the finish.
And since my kids were playing with their angels and enjoying their snacks this morning, this is what I got to witness in the line next to me as one of the other tributes, a mom with a boy probably 2ish, who decided in the middle of the arena to scream at the top of his lungs and cry and meltdown no matter what anyone said or did (and believe me, many people tried and failed).
Besides the overwhelming sense of selfish gratitude that Praise the Lord it is not me this time (I know… but I am being honest, remember), my heart truly went out to this mom. Because I have been there, and if you are a mom that has ever gone anywhere with one of your children, you have probably been there at some point too. And while I do not know the backstory and yes, I could easily judge as to her parenting skills or lack thereof and maybe if she had ensured a good quality nap or a snack and prepared properly or whatever and it could all be true, in that moment I felt an overwhelming sense of sympathy and solidarity.
And this is where this post all began, because right there in line, regardless of who was watching or how crazy people might have thought I was:
I wanted to raise my hand and somehow salute this woman and the only thing I could think of in that moment was the sign of the mockingjay. That’s right; no judgement here. Just a simple salute of solidarity to say:
I see you. I hear you. I am for you not against you. You are not alone!
I realized right then that we moms need a sign (it does not have to be the mockingly, although it is pretty catchy ([ha ha again with the puns] and no… the other bird is not nice nor appropriate) to be able to salute each other when times are rough. To let us know we are not fighting against one another for the best show in mommyhood but feel each others pain and wish to encourage each other when we get to witness one of your less than shining moments.
Words just do not seem to do it justice. No matter what I say in that moment, whether it be”It’s ok” or “that was my kid yesterday” or “this too shall pass,” it all seems to fall flat or cannot even be heard depending on how loud the kid is screaming. But a sign… a strong silent salute with the emotion and understanding of someone who has been there… that silence overpowers the screams and sparks a movement of unity, power, and true victory.
Can you see it?
Mom in grocery line with said screaming kid… I salute you.
Mom at Panera last night with her oldest of three throwing a tantrum because it was not the right pastry and middle child crying because daddy accidentally fed her a bite that was too hot and third child still in the carrier… I salute you.
Aunt running down the aisle at Target while nephew is pulling everything off of the shelves because you had to say no to the toy he really wanted (because he already has three of them at home but who’s counting)… I salute you.
Grandma at Chick-fil-A who is scaling the play place at wildfire speeds because grandchild number one has decided he can no longer go down the slide to get down and grandchild number two is so kindly helping him along because she can do it and he should too… I salute you.
So the next time you embark on your bi-centennial trip out into the public arena (with or without kids along) and hear those tragic words… “May the odds be ever in your favor.” Just think… maybe they will be. Maybe this will be the experience of the lifetime (ok). But if not, may someone share in your pain, not with a smirk or unsolicited advice or an empty but well-intentioned phrase, but with a show of support and a salute of solidarity (mockingjays all around).♥