I saw you today in a minivan not very different from mine.
You were waiting for traffic to clear so you could turn left into the parking lot I was leaving. Looking straight ahead into your van, I had the perfect view of the exchange that was taking place.
That thing where you look in the rear view mirror to
yell talk sternly to the kids in the back. You were doing it. And then the tell-tell forehead into the hand. I didn’t need to hear the words to imagine what was going on:
Mom, he’s looking out my window!
Mom, I need to make an animal habitat for school. By tomorrow!
You had the look of weary exasperation. I recognized it because I was wearing it myself. Just 5 minutes before I had been that parent who made true on the threat and pulled over because the kids were fighting. Again. Over a green mardi gras necklace.
As I watched you clutch the steering wheel and take deep breaths, I wondered if you were thinking what I was thinking.
Am I going to live through raising these children? If so, are they?
Why do I get so frustrated? Shouldn’t I have more control and energy for this?
What I’m doing isn’t working. Is it my fault they aren’t better behaved, more respectful, kinder kids?
There we were. Two mama’s in minivans. Struggling with this mess of a thing called motherhood.
That half a minute glimpse into your van put a tiny smile on my face, though. I saw myself in your struggle and felt a little less alone and a little less crazy. I wanted to hug you and say “Solidarity, sister! I’m on your team.” It was instant camaraderie and I longed to invite you to coffee so we could lament together. Because this thing is hard, and we need each other.
You finally got the clear and turned left, passing right by my van. For a brief second our eyes locked and something passed between us.
It felt a lot like understanding. And it was wonderful.