The other day I saw a mom walking in the mall, pushing a baby stroller.
No big deal, right?
I, however, was not pushing my child in a stroller, having waited until she was in daycare to run my errands. Because even though I've now had more than eight months of practice, I still find it laborious to haul a baby all over town, in and out of the car, while I go through a simple "to-do" list.
Things I used to be able to accomplish in an hour or so take three or four times as long with a baby in tow.
At least they do for me.
Now back to this mom. She wasn't just pushing her baby in a stroller. She was pushing two children -- both clearly under the age of 2 -- in a stroller. And they weren't twins. AND she was also very pregnant. To top it off, she didn't seem harried or stressed out. She actually seemed quite calm and content, as did her lovely, clean children. Children who were wearing adorable outfits probably hand-knitted by this wonder-mom, their cheeks rosy with the glow of eating organic baby food no doubt hand-prepared for them using fresh vegetables from the garden.
At least that's the story I was telling myself.
But seriously. How do moms do it? I have a hard enough time with one child. I can't imagine having two, or three, or more. Several of my closest friends have two and three children each and handle it beautifully. Like for real. I've been behind the curtain and seen it for myself.
I recently had what I hope to be my last surgery for a long time, a scar revision procedure to clean up the road map left on my belly after an emergency C-section, a hysterectomy, and cancer surgery. And I have to say that the recovery from this surgery has been the most difficult of all the surgeries I've had in the past year. And the worst part of it has been that although I can hold and now even carry my baby, I still can't bend and lift her. I can't pick her up out of her crib when she holds out her arms to me, and I can't lower her when she's clamoring to get down.
This little setback has caused me, once again, to rely on help from others, something that is soooo difficult for me to do. But it's also caused me to think, what would I do if I had more than one child?
I guess I'd just handle it, like moms do. And it would become my new normal.
I know it's not healthy to compare myself to other moms; and that the only comparing I should be doing is to compare myself to me six months ago and see how far I've come ...
Okay, that did help.
But I still admire the hell out of all those moms and dads who seem to handle child rearing -- especially with multiple children -- with such grace and finesse.
As for me, when I see a frazzled-looking mom with a formula stain on her shirt and a screaming baby, I always make sure to give her my most compassionate and sympathetic smile.
If you happen to see me, do the same, why don't you? After all, we're all just doing our best.
Image via Mark Montgomery