Summertime is for picnics and family vacations and holiday BBQs.

For weddings and family reunions and graduations.

Parties and birthdays and neighborhood potlucks.

This summer, I want you to do me a favor: I want you to look for the mom.

Look for the mom wearing the oversized sunglasses not because they’re fashionable, but because she’s trying to hide the enormous bags under her eyes.

Look for the mom chasing after toddlers with sunscreen and bug spray, and batting pebbles and cigarette butts out of a baby’s chubby grasp.

Look for the mom balancing a baby on her hip while scooping fruit salad onto paper plates, wiping snotty noses, and pointedly ignoring the spit-up on her shirt.

Look for the mom failing to hide a grimace and making a quick excuse before sprinting away to break up a tussle or kiss a boo-boo.

Look for the mom sitting by herself in a secluded corner trying to breastfeed her baby discreetly.

Look for the mom fighting back tears and covered in sweat from carrying her child kicking and screaming back to the car.

Look for the mom and please know there’s so much more than meets the eye.

Please know that it took a very large amount of effort for her just to get there. In fact, it probably took her twice the amount of time it should to get her gaggle ready and out the door. She was likely flustered and exhausted before even stepping foot out of the car. She was definitely tempted to send a text at the last minute to say they weren’t going to make it after all.

Please know that she desperately wants to be a part of it all. She genuinely wants to engage with you and hear all about what’s going on in your life. She wants to share and laugh and catch up. She would love an uninterrupted conversation with another real-life adult right now. But that would require standing still in one spot and giving her undivided attention to you, neither of which is physically possible in her world right now.

Please know that despite ordering food or piling some on a plate for herself (if she even gets that far), she will likely not take a single bite. If she does, it will be while she is walking around, or holding a squirming little human on her lap.

Please know that for the entire duration of her stay, she is thinking about how this will affect nap time and schedules, and worrying about whether it was worth it to come all this way, and then feeling guilty for fretting in the first place.

Please know that she’ll be overthinking every attempted conversation and exchange she had while there, wondering if you saw how distracted and frazzled and disorganized and spacey she is, and whether you noticed the spit-up on her shirt.

Please know that she will leave this gathering spent and exhausted and likely a little resentful and certainly relieved . . . because this is the season she’s in, and sometimes it’s just really, really hard.

Please know that she’s not ungrateful for any of it. She’s honored to be a mom and she knows how very lucky she is.

But please know that she would love a moment to let her guard down and enjoy herself.

That in a sea of people, she may be lonely.

And that she is definitely hungry.

So look for the mom.

Look for the mom, and if you see her . . .

Take the baby so she can finally sit down and eat a warm meal.

Play with the toddler so she can finish a thought without dashing off after him.

Offer to bring her a drink if you spot her in a corner trying to feed her baby.

Carry something, and help her herd her flock to the car.

Most importantly, when it’s time to say goodbye . . . 

Pull her in tight and look her straight in the eyes.

Tell her how glad you are that she came.

And that you’ll look for her next time, too.

This post originally appeared on Shower Arguments


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Emily Solberg

Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom to two toddlers, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard along with the good. You can find more from her on her Facebook page, Shower Arguments.