I was at Crate and Barrel a couple of weeks ago on a mission to find not-cheesy-looking place mats. Why is this so challenging? Why can’t I find simple place mats? Every where I looked the selection ranged from place mats featuring country Roosters or purple wine bottles. Why, oh, why?! Why are those the quintessential “place mat” options?!
Anyway. This is not a story about place mats.
This is a story about how you could not pay me to be a first time mother ever again.
So a couple of weeks ago, per the suggestion of several helpful friends on Facebook, I went to Crate and Barrel to search for place mats. It was a lucky day because I only had Thomas with me. So I could actually wander around the store, touching and oohing and awing over all the lovely things that people who don’t have kids at home can have at their home. Everything that comes into our house has the high change of being irrevocably damaged. Hence why our family motto is: This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
I’m meandering around Crate and Barrel with Thomas snuggly in the Ergo, taking my sweet time to locate the place mats (and texting Dan, “Just looking at the place mats! Be home in 10!” SUCKER!). I find them, take a healthy amount of time to debate which ones, circle through the sale section because, have I mentioned, I only have ONE kid with me and he’s asleep! Then I circle back around to the place mats and pick out some gray stripe ones because, obviously, as a lover of all things stripes, and s-l-o-w-l-y make my way to the register.
As I’m waiting in line for approximately 17 years because a newly engaged couple ahead of me is having a hard time with some aspect of their registry (ENJOY YOUR NICE THINGS, ENGAGED COUPLE!), a couple comes up behind me. They are pushing one of those snap-and-go strollers. And I know they are new parents.
I know they are new parents because of that wild look they have in their eyes that says something like “we haven’t slept in 9 days but we need to get out of the house and we actually managed to put on pants.”
I also know they are new parents because during my second time meandering around the store (Sorry I’m not sorry, Dan!), I helped them move a table while I was nursing Thomas in the Ergo so they could get their stroller through the aisle.
So they ended up behind me in line. And I once again knew they were new parents because the Dad’s eyes glazed over and he started walking towards a grilling display…and then the Mom saw the sale section and started to walk away from the stroller, too.
After I had Kate I worried all the time that I’d leave her somewhere. That I’d forget to snap her car seat into the car, and I’d drive away. That I’d leave her in the car. That I’d forget her at home.
I sidled closer to the stroller and waited for them to realized they both walked away.
Mom realized first. That look of PANIC in her eyes as she completely forget about those clearance candles and came running back to her baby.
I smiled and told her, no worries, I wasn’t going to let anyone take him. She caught her breath and smiled and asked me how many weeks was Thomas. And if he was also my first.
“No, he’s my third.”
Her eyes got real big as she said “I can’t even imagine.”
I’m used to this response. Sometimes I can’t even imagine it, too!
I told her, “Well, the third time around is easier. And in fact, it just gets easier.”
“Really?” She seemed kind of dubious.
“Yep! Being a new parent is real hard. But it gets easier and easier. I promise!”
Finally the engaged couple worked out which highly breakable items they were going to add to their registry, and it was my turn. I smiled and waved to my new friends and said “you’re doing a great job!”
I think we could all do with less advice. Less suggestions. And more “you’re doing a great job!” I wish new-mom Sarah had the confidence of third-time-mom Sarah because it would have meant less heart ache. Confidence that I was doing my best. So when I happen upon a new mom, I push against that reflex to suggest a night time sleep strategy (because what worked for us doesn’t mean it works for them) and instead say “you’re doing a great job.” Because I’m sure those new parents read all the books and Googled all their troubles and have tried 4,265 techniques and really just need to hear, “you’re doing your best.”
So, Crate and Barrel mom, you’re doing your best!