I was introduced to a friend-of-a-friend at a cocktail party the other night. She recognized me immediately and asked if I had a little girl with curly, blonde hair. As if my mind were a chest of drawers, I began frantically pulling out each one, digging rapidly through my neatly folded memories to figure out where I’d met her.
It turns out, she had witnessed me in one of my most awesome mothering moments. She saw me display endless patience, give undivided attention, and ooze unwavering confidence. I was behaving the way I want to act all of the time with my kids, even though it’s humanly impossible.
Once she told me how she knew me, I remembered the day vividly. My in-laws were visiting and they are fabulous. I essentially had a live-in chef/ nanny and handyman at home. This meant that I got to take my daughter to the doctor without lugging my fourteen-month-old son along with us. I was on a high from leaving my clean, well stocked house with only one child in tow, and no stroller.
Please understand that I am usually one of THOSE moms, carrying at least one of my writhing children under my arm, pushing a giant red double-stroller, unapologetically wearing yoga pants at all hours of the day, with nothing on my face, except a determined look.
After a smooth check-up at the doctor, I decided a mommy-daughter lunch was in order. My high continued all through lunch. My daughter, who’s a dainty nibbler of food, devoured her meal, fruit and all, and was incredibly cheerful and cooperative. I think she was just as happy to have special time with me, as I was with her. As we dined, she told me about her preschool friends and her favorite princesses. I had visions of shopping and lunching with her when she’s a teenager (or whenever the eye-rolling phase passes), and I was reveling in that moment.
As we got ready to leave, the woman sitting at the table next to us complimented me on this loving, inspiring interaction with my daughter. This was the woman standing in front of me, now, at the cocktail party. She relayed the story to the other women I had just met (score!), and I humbly and truthfully told her she caught me at a lucky time.
It was lucky, but it was also authentic. I wasn’t putting on a show for the world around me. I wasn’t focused on what people thought. I was enjoying time with my daughter, and this woman was nice enough to acknowledge that.
How many times have you tried to wrangle your children in public, glancing around with the paranoia of a pothead, looking for a sympathetic eye to connect with or preparing your comeback for those judging, tsk-ing eyes? It’s the frazzled moments that get the most attention from strangers and from ourselves, but I’m proof that the good ones are getting noticed, too.
Be yourself, confident in the knowledge that for every one of your public disasters, your all-star moments are being seen. Give yourself credit for them, even if a kindly stranger doesn’t do it for you. Yes, they’re watching, and so are your kids. Own every moment, and think about the good ones more than the bad. Also, maybe get yourself a nanny and a chef. It sure does take the edge off.