A few weekends ago I was sitting in a restaurant with my kids. We were all laughing and talking together. They were engaged in family time, and it was fabulous. I’m not bragging here, I’m just mentioning it because it so rarely happens. It was one of those outings that I will look back on and it will stand out in my mind as being wonderful.
The mother sitting right next to us, however, was not having such a great day. As she sat with her three kids and husband eating a burger, her whole clan erupted in laughter. Apparently she had something between her teeth, and instead of telling her and moving on, they made a big deal about it. They thought the whole thing was hilarious. She did not.
“It’s not funny,” she said dryly to her husband.
“It’s kind of funny,” he replied.
“NO, it’s not!” she snapped.
There was not a chance she was going to crack a smile. Not even with her sweet little kids laughing as they held french fries between their teeth, trying not to be too loud.
I could relate all too well to what she was experiencing. I desperately wanted to sit next to her, give her a hug, and tell her I knew exactly how she was feeling, and no, it wasn’t funny.
Because chances are this woman spent the better part of her morning making sure her kids were clean, dressed, and had their hair combed. I bet she’d already changed a few nappys, emptied the dishwasher, and jotted down a quick grocery list before heading out the door to ensure everyone would have what they needed for the weekend so she could grab a few peaceful moments for herself.
I am positive she was the last one out the door. She took a last-minute pee — her only chance to use the toilet without an audience. When one of the kids forgot their favourite stuffed animal to clutch during the ride, she was the one who ran in to get it. She was the only one in the house who knew where it was, and she wanted to avoid a meltdown.
I bet she cut her shower short so they wouldn’t be late. I can imagine she not only had to give her family two reminders to get their shoes on, but three. I am sure there was laundry thrown in before they could leave because someone was out of clean underwear. Maybe the house was a mess and she gave it one last glance before closing the door behind her; perhaps she thought about how when she got home, she’d have to tackle it so she could think straight.
Maybe she doesn’t do it all herself, but she knows if she doesn’t notice what needs to be done and ask for help, things just won’t get done.
I know because I’ve been her. You’ve been her. Every mother has been her. Maybe people sitting on the sidelines think she should be having a sense of humour and laughing her a*s off about the fact she had something in her teeth — but she just can’t because she is so depleted she feels it in her bones. She feels invisible, unappreciated, and a little like servant-b*tch. It’s not fun being the person who gets noticed for having something between your teeth but not for holding things together.
Mums don’t always have a sense of humour because we carry a lot. Our minds never shut off. It doesn’t mean we don’t love out families with all our being. It just means there are times when we want to feel a little more appreciation, a little more respected, and be seen as a person with real feelings and emotions and not just the woman who will do it all for everyone else.
And sometimes that looks like not joining in when our family laughs at us in a restaurant on a Saturday afternoon.