Tuesday, August 13, 2013

You're Doing it Right

Yesterday had the potential to be like any other - and in many ways it was.

In the morning Adam and I talked through the day as we usually do - when his calls were, where I was taking the girls in the morning. I mentioned that Sarah was coming in the afternoon, and I was planning on heading out to do some writing. He was making coffee at the time, and suddenly, he plucked something off the refrigerator and glanced at the calendar we keep there (along with appointment cards, the weekly menu, a shopping list, and all of that household management stuff).

He gave me a look.

"Hey, do you know the date?"

"Ummm....the 10th? 11th?"

"It's the 12th".

"Oh, ok".

He looked at me like I hadn't grasped the point.

"Does August 11th ring any bells?"

"Oh, crap".

I had to bring my car for emissions testing. I got the reminder card last month, and dutifully hung it on the fridge. I planned to go as soon as I got the card. But then I got a recall notice from Subaru and ended up needing to take the car in for some work on the catalytic. Since my vague knowledge about cars consists of knowing that the catalytic sometimes has something to do with emissions, I decided to do that first. By the time I'd made my appointment with the dealership and gotten that taken care of, the emissions card had lost the urgency. Besides, there was plenty of time until August 11.

Luckily, there is a grace period, and I'm not breaking the law or losing my registration or anything, but after letting it slide for so long, I knew I had to get it in.

And even more luckily, I had Sarah in the afternoon. It might be a quick thing, but I still have no desire to take both girls with me to a garage and sit with them in the waiting room.

I picked Sarah up, dropped her and the girls off for some quality swingset time, and headed off to the garage that does testing in town. I parked in an emissions spot and sat down in the waiting area next to a gentleman who was very polite and very focused on his iPhone. Perfect. I pulled out my phone and waited. After a few minutes, we were joined by an older woman who smiled at us and sat down quietly.

After the man got his pass notice and left, the tech asked me which Subaru was mine. The woman next to me laughed and said she'd noticed we had the same car. The tech very diplomatically asked if mine was the one with the car seats, and, red-faced, I admitted that it was and begged him not to judge the mess the car was currently housing.

I SWEAR, I am cleaning my car out often. And the car is still somehow never clean. I blame the children. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The woman who'd sat next to me laughed again and assured me that she'd been there. This was of course the icebreaker we needed to start chatting. At first we discussed the emissions themselves, and how we were lucky that this particular place was so easy to deal with, then moved to where in town we lived, and then, of course, used the catalyst of my car seats and messy car to talking about the girls.

She asked ages and gender and names (and was one of the few people who realize that our children are in fact named after presidents - it's not just coincidental). She asked me if I had pictures on my phone and I gladly showed her a few. One of the pictures showed the girls playing with the water beads and we talked a bit about things I did with them. I mentioned I had been a teacher, but wasn't currently working, although I'd tried the part time thing at one point. I laughed about the state of my car and sighed that someday I may have something other than a cluttermobile. She told me about her grandchildren and showed me pictures of them and what they were interested in.

Then as we were talking idly about various things, which I can't even remember (clearly we're both chatterboxes) she looked at me and said,

"You're doing it right. You know that, right?".

I gave her a quizzical look? Doing it right? What? Staying home? Playing with the girls? Having a disaster of a car?

She smiled at me again, saw my confused face and said this,

"I can tell. You speak in a way that tells me that you make whatever you do work the best for your kids. You realize that you might have a messy car, but you recognize that you need to enjoy these days. You don't have to tell me every detail.

I just read this magazine about how hard moms are on each other and themselves, so I decided that I am always going to tell the good moms that they're doing it right. And you're one of them. I can tell".


What an amazing mission this woman was on - making sure women hear things that build them up instead of make them second guess themselves at every moment.

She didn't know everything about me. She didn't know all the things that put me in the "good mom" category. She didn't know all the things that make me feel guilty. She didn't care. She took a conversation with a stranger, and took the opportunity to give someone a boost.

You're doing it right.

I left with my pass notice, a messy car, and a warm fuzzy feeling from someone whose name I didn't even know.

And I smiled as I drove directly to the car wash to give my car a good vacuuming.

Who will you be lucky enough to sit next to?

Has a stranger ever made your day? Have you ever made someone else's?

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