We just got back from a family vacation overseas, and in reflecting on our trip this morning in mass, I couldn't help but think—I wonder what people think of us out in public together?
We have three children; ages four, two and seven months. This time in our lives is beautiful in every sense of the word—to us. But is it to outsiders?
Our daughter's dino roar is hilarious to us. But does it tick other people off? My baby's cries make me want to calm her immediately, any way I can. But does it make you feel impatient? Sometimes she needs to breastfeed Right. This. Second. Does seeing that annoy you?
My husband and I try our best to get out into the big, wild world and do things with our kids. We plan and prepare as best we can, and then we just go for it and get out there. Sometimes it works really well and everything goes as smoothly as possible and we're left feeling surprised because... did that even just happen?
And sometimes, our adventure turns disastrous—not in a dangerous way...more in an "OMG she has a blowout poop all the way up her back and we only have two wipes, a size 5 (not 3) diaper, and no extra clothes!" type way. And we're left feeling drained because… remind me why did we think this would work out, exactly?
It is not easy. I get anxious sometimes about going places with the kids. Will they listen? Are they going to throw a fit? Did I pack enough snacks? What if they flip out? I guess sometimes I am so distracted by how my kids will act or feel or what they need pre-outing, that I don't worry about what other people think about us until we're in it or until it's over. And then its kind of too late, so we just keep going.
But then… I wonder…
I wonder what you think of us as you watch us frantically dig for snacks and crayons and whisper "Listen to the priest, hunny" over and over in the pew at church.
I wonder what you think of us as you watch me rock and bounce my overtired baby squished in our row as we fly overnight to our destination.
I wonder what you think of us as you watch our conversation get interrupted at least 10 times and we haven't even heard the specials yet.
I wonder what you think of us as we chase after toddlers at the museum while checking out the latest exhibit.
I wonder what you think of us as you watch my baby sleep on my lap as the crowd goes wild at the Celtics game.
I wonder what you think of us as we wrangle toddlers and babies and preschoolers in the coffee shop.
I wonder what you think of me as I walk down the aisle at my sister's wedding with a 6-day-old baby strapped to my chest, a toddler on my hip, and a preschooler's hand in mine.
I wonder what you think of us as sweat pours down our necks plotting for a quick way to escape this quiet play if one of them freaks out.
I've been a mom for almost five years and I'm realizing that a lot of my motherhood has been spent worrying about what other people might think of me. Of making things up in my head. Of comparing myself to other women I know. Of comparing myself to women I don't know, but follow on Instagram. Of assuming people are thinking the worst of me.
But I think I've come to a conclusion. There's now a pre-first-overseas-trip-with-three-kids me and a post-first-overseas-trip-with-three-kids me. The pre-trip-me worries about these musings. The post-trip-me hopes, instead.
I hope you see a family who is simply trying to have some fun together.
I hope you see a couple who loves each other and needs to get out of the house—no matter whether they have a babysitter at that very moment or not.
I hope you see good parents who are trying to show their children the world, trying to take them on adventures—whether it be the grocery store or on a train ride.
I hope you see us doing our best to be a mom, a dad, a preschooler, a toddler, a baby, a couple, a family—in a world where we have every right to belong, to experience, to explore.
I waste too much time wondering what people think. But I think I am finally learning… that I actually don't even care.