It’s February, the beloved time of year when parents everywhere have a love-hate relationship about being out in public: Must Get Out Of The House vs. One Zillion Illnesses Out To Get My Kids. Either one or both of my kinds have been sick since December and I. AM. DONE. I want sleep. I want happy compliant kids who do not cry because I require wearing a coat when the wind-chill is below freezing. Oh and kids who will sleep whenever I need them to and eat whatever I tell them to.
But currently this is not the case. My almost 3 year old daughter woke up wanting popcorn and refused most of her breakfast because it wasn’t “poptorn.” My baby was sick and therefore super clingy and whiney and my energy was quickly being sapped.
So I get out of the house for one of my mom survival tricks- my version of “alone time”- just throw both kids into their car seats and just drive. It’s similar to real “alone time” because I can mentally check out of taking care of the kids. Just drive safe and we’re all good! They quiet down and relax to the vibration of the car on the road and I put on the classical music station, reaching at least a minimal level of zen.
Usually this works but the lull of Chopin in the car would not calm this child today. “Mama I want poptorn! popTORN popTORN popTOOOOORN! I was desperate. I don’t’ even believe that I had a great reason to feel desperate, but I was.
And then I saw it.
Our local bank. They have free popcorn in the lobby. They have one currently empty drive-thru lane right next to the building with a large box for interactions with the bank attendants. Large enough to fit a bag of popcorn…
Oh yes. I did it.
I drove up and asked the attendant for popcorn.
I did not do any transaction. I just asked for popcorn. The polite attendant was a young man who did not even blink when I asked but I am sure he thought I was crazy. And I am a little crazy, so he was right in thinking that. I mean, I ordered drive-thru popcorn at my bank. At. My. Bank.
My ears just got a little hot while I type this out, wondering who will read this and wondering what you will think. My thoughts went along the lines of “This is SO un-classy! I mean, how desperate does someone have to be to do this? And I really don’t have a good reason to feel as desperate as I do- I mean, there are millions of moms with more problems than me that can handle two kids with grace and ease and would probably never let a bank attendant realize that they do not have it all together like this attendant knows now! And why do I even care? I bet those people who have it all together don’t even care what the bank attendant would say because they wouldn’t even be here asking for him to slide a bag of popcorn through the deposit box like some illicit drop off… ”
Me and the kids get home. My son finally takes a nap, my daughter, face greasy from the unnaturally yellow butter coating of the bank popcorn, is watching a show. I feel defeated but at least temporarily peaceful. Even though almost every morning I declare today I will Eat No Sweets I bite into a cookie. It is barely noon and I have given up on my no-sweets resolution, fed my daughter processed and chemical-laden snacks shamefully acquired from a bank, and oh, yes, I am also exposing my kiddo to more screen time than recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I’m writing this because I know I can’t be the only one. I mean, I may be the only person who has asked a bank for free popcorn through their drive up window, but I mean generally, I can’t be the only one. I write this because I know that I feel alone sometimes, and in those times it seems I always notice some strong developed ambitious peppy mom out there (or often in my mind) who looks like she has it all together, and I feel even more alone. I think “Wow, I am so far behind her. That mom is wearing bangles that coordinate with her shoes.” At which moment I look down and realize the shirt I am wearing has a hole near my belly button.
It is in this moment, in this space where I feel inadequate as a mom and even as a person, peace knocks on my heart. Reminds me that I say I believe some good news. The good news that says I am more than my failures, desperateness and ridiculousness. That there is grace for who I am not, and a special place for who I am. That some imagined ideal of perfection is not the identity I should strive for, nor is it even my end goal. That there is a love that frees me from the monotony of daily diaper changes and dishes. There is an unseen world that I get to be a part of where love and prayers are real weapon and tools that protect and build things that last.
Occasionally I feel like I have it all together, but most of the time I don’t. I would guess that that peppy mom probably feels the same way too (although good for us the days we are rocking it!!). I want to share my stories with you, when I don’t have it all together, because I want you to know you are not alone. I write for us. For those of us with desperate stories and ridiculous solutions. I also write for the God of desperate stories and ridiculous solutions. We are never alone. Our story of humanity is a desperate one, and the Gospel is a ridiculous solution. It’s truth proves that the ugly truth can actually be beautiful.