Thursday, August 13, 2009


One of my favorite bloggers The New Girl posted recently about the snapshots strangers get of our kids on any given day. It's a great post (go read it!) and maybe I am just way self-centered but it made me think about the snapshots those same strangers get of my parenting.

I am proud to have kids who are usually quite well-behaved in public. I like to think that most of that can be chalked up to good parenting but I know they also love a spotlight. Their red hair and bright smiles, coupled with the fact that they look so much like twins garners them a lot of attention. As soon as anyone so much as smiles at her Anna usually launches into her routine, introducing herself and her sister and bragging about whatever is going on in her little life. Rachel smiles and bats her eyelashes at the bakery for free cookies. I love being the mom with the sweet little girls who dutifully hold on to the cart as we cross the parking lot. I enjoy giving the impression that I've got it all together.

A few weeks ago a good friend did me a huge favor and took me grocery shopping. I had no car at my disposal that day and this friend packed up her own four-year-old daughter and accompanied me and the girls to the store. I had a list and a budget and I figured it would be a pretty quick trip. Until we got the grocery carts. My girls are huge fans of the carts where they can sit in the "car" next to each other and "drive." But with the friend came the inevitable fight over who got to sit next to her. Two seats, three girls, lots of screaming. They agreed to take turns but both girls wanted to be first and nothing in my rather large and well-stocked purse would bribe them into submission. So much noise, so many witnesses. I finally decided that if they were going to scream, they could do so while I shopped. I took off down one aisle with one loud and unhappy child only to suddenly realize that my favorite store's remodeling project had apparently hit a new stage and nothing was where it used to be. Anxiety hit as the the one child who was happy started to yell at me for something and I started to sweat. This is so not the impression I enjoy giving the neighborhood grocery store. I want to be the calm, happy, proud mother, not the frazzled, sweaty, sniping mess.

But of course I am both of those women. Just as I occasionally wonder if my girls have multiple personalities I know that I am just as changeable. And when I can manage to remain calm and happy I am just as proud of myself as I am of my children. Of course good planning can help too - which is why I will never again approach grocery cart seating without a strategy.

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