I'll just say it -- forgetfulness is one of my downfalls as a Mama. I am constantly asking my friends to borrow diapers and wipes. I've had to stop at Target during many an outing to buy a sippy cup, binky, or new pair of pants for Bennett. I am lucky I have so many well-prepared, non-forgetful friends. Alas, none of them were with me today. Here's what happened:
This morning I gave Bennett a bath, and as I was drying him off, I realized his hair was almost as long as mine. So I decided on a whim to take him to get a haircut real quick. (And so says the Psalmist, "Mom's say 'real quick,' God laughs.")
So I got ready to go, and with the help of my super-sweet husband, (who had already cleaned the kitchen for me this morning, too!) piled the kids in the car. I even told Bennett we could go to the McDonald's play place on the way home from our haircut. I was feeling like I had things pretty together.
We arrived at the haircut place, and as I opened the back door to get Bennett out, I realized he had no shoes on. Suddenly I remembered Neil saying, as he was buckling Bennett into the car, "Honey make sure you grab Bennett's shoes!" I yelled back, "Okay! I'll get them!" only to head out the door empty-handed. Forgetfulness rears it's ugly head. Now, standing in front of the haircut place, I do a quick scan of the backseat, where an extra pair of Crocs is almost ALWAYS lurking. But not today...
I decide not to stress about it. I say to myself: No problem. Just because my kid has no shoes on in a public place, that doesn't make me white trash. Or a bad mother.
So I load Mallory's car seat into the stroller and proceed to carry Bennett across the street while pushing the stroller with the other hand, which is a feat in itself. I make it to the haircut place, and a kind gentleman inside opens the door for me. It's a small, crowded place, and I'm instantly self-conscious about Bennett's bare feet. I am just hoping no one will notice. The man behind the register is friendly at first.
"Hi! Just sign in, and we'll be with you in a... WAIT! Do you have shoes for him?"
The room is silent. Everyone in the small, crowded, space is now staring at White-Trash-Mom and her son's bare feet. In typical Casey fashion, I try to just charm my way out of my embarrassment.
Me: "No... can you believe it?! We ran out of the house and completely forgot shoes!" Smile, smile, smile...
Man: (not even remotely charmed) I'm sorry, but if he doesn't have shoes, you'll have to leave. It's part of our health code."
I feel the judgement of not only the man behind the counter (who will now be refereed to as "Health-Code Nazi") but of all the other moms in the room. I can just hear their thoughts: What kind of mother forgets her son's shoes?! I even see a few eye-rolls and head-shakes. The only one who is nice to me in the entire place is the gentlemanly dad who opens the door for me again as I leave.
As I walk to the car, I am both embarrassed and fuming mad. I mean seriously... are my two-year-old's chubby, little bare feet really going to compromise the health code? Quick! Someone grab the HazMat suits... there's a kid in here with no shoes on! Alert the Pentagon! Sheesh!
I carry/wheel the kids back to the car and decide that we're going home and NOT coming back! We can just get a haircut another time. As I'm unloading the stroller and putting it back into the trunk, a sweet, older lady who is parked next to me says, "Wow, I don't know how you young mom's today do it." And then, looking at the kids,"Your kids are just so beautiful." Those kind, validating words from a stranger just made my day and turned my attitude around. "Thanks," I said "I was kind of having a rough morning."
She continued to validate: "Raising little ones is so hard! You're doing a great job!" And with that my Golden-Girl Guardian Angel got in her car and drove away.
Then, I got back in the car and drove home. I grabbed Bennett's shoes, and we went back to the haircut place. We provided proof-of-footwear to Health-Code Nazi, got Bennett's hair cut and went to the play place. We ate McNuggets. And everything turned out just fine.
As we drove home (again) I got to thinking about how I myself judge other moms and how wrong that is. Shouldn't we moms be the last people to judge each other? Shouldn't we stick together because we know how darn hard it is to take care of little ones. Today's shoe incident reminded me that instead of judging another mom, it's so much better to say, "What beautiful kids you have," or "Great job," or even "I have an extra pair of shoes in the car if you need them."
Because a little validation and encouragement can mean a lot to a frazzled mama.
Here's Bennett after his hair cut: