I had the opportunity to run some errands yesterday with only my 5 year old daughter in tow. (Any time spent running errands with less than the usual amount of tag-a-longs is a little manna from heaven, no?) First on the list was to do some schoolbook hunting at a local used book store.
Book store browsing with kid(s) has not gone well in the past. At least not the way I like to book store browse. Typical book store trips with the kid(s) had not involved much browsing. Mostly quick scanning. Lot's of kid chasing. On a good trip, reading 20 million children's books.
This trip was different. It was a first. We leisurely browsed, yes BROWSED, the book store for nearly 2 hours!!! The two of us!!! Did I mention that we BROWSED??? LEISURELY???!!! Took our time. Picked through all the shelves that interested us. Flipped through pages. Read short stories. Sat side by side just doing our thing. She had a little pile going. I had a little pile going. Occasionally, one of us would lift a brow and share a little tidbit from whatever had caught our fascination at the moment. It was heaven!!!!!
It took an observation of a mother who wandered back to our section with her son, probably a year younger than my daughter, for me to truly appreciate my blissed out moment. She tried to sift through the unorganized book shelves while distractedly calling after her son. She tried to search for treasures amid the overstuffed rows, but really, I know she was scanning the same shelf over and over each time she came back from pulling her kid off of the nearby ladder. This poor, exasperated mother sat her son down with a book probably a half dozen times. He wouldn't fall for it unless she promised to stop "browsing" and read to him. It was during this little lad's third trip around the book store, mom close behind, that I glanced down at my precious 5 year old. I couldn't help but throw my arms around her and whisper "I love you" in her ear. We had reached a milestone. One I have been looking forward to for a long time.
I practically bounced out of the store with my little one in tow. I was on a mommy HIGH. I was already planning a forecast of new outings with my newfound book store buddy!
Oh yes, we had one more errand to attend to on this outing. A stop at the "Only 99 Cents" store. First this, than that. Just two more items. Ok, let's head to the checkout. And that is when my mommy high dropped to a sinking low. Plummeted, rather.
"Ewww! Why does that man's skin look so weird?" my 5 year old points to the man approaching our line (You know, to make sure we all see exactly who the rude comment is directed at). I thought we were PAST that stage! I answer some plain spoken possibilities ending with an "I don't know, but let's remember to be kind."
No, that answer would not suffice. My daughters questions would not remain innocuous, either. They took an offensive, embarrassing turn for the worse that left me scrambling for distractions and red-facedly rushing to get OUT of the store and IN to the car. The whole way, thinking to myself, "She KNOWS better! Where did she come UP with that stuff?? Have I not taught her correctly?" Finally, "Why didn't I handle that better??"
I always thought I'd apologize in those situations. Thought my child would be "well-mannered, loving and polite" during public outings by this stage. ;-) Well, at least more loving. Or that I'd at least handle an occasional, innocent flub with more decorum and loving politeness than I actually did. (Neck sweating, face blushing, avoiding eye contact and refusing to turn around and face the man, let alone apologize, was not exactly the best response, huh?)
All of this, to remind me that I am just a mom. Not "just a mom" as in, "nothing more" than a mom. (I'm really not sure what THAT means, anyhow. But that is a WHOLE different story.) No, I am just a mom. My role as mom is teacher. Nurturer. Caretaker. I am there to love. It is so simple. As much as I want to take credit for the "highs" and hang my head in shame over the "lows", I cannot. I am no more of a good mommy, than I am a bad mommy. I am simply, "Mommy".
P.S. The car ride home provided a valuable teaching opportunity. *wink*wink*