Monday, September 24, 2012

The Day I Sprinted

The girls and I went to the mall today.  We were stopped every five minutes by people who wanted to talk to my girls, tell them how pretty they are, how well behaved, how sweet.  Or they wanted to stop me and tell me that I look just like they did when they were young moms, or how brave I am to go out with my kids but how I must be a good mom because they are all such nice girls.

That's the reception I am used to.  And obviously, it makes me feel good.  Obviously, right?

We were hanging out at the play area.  I made one small choice.  The consequence of that choice was that a lady standing nearby criticized me severely in a biting tone.

I collected my girls and we quickly left, I was working to fight back tears.  I would like to think that I am normally confident enough that I can take criticism, digest it, and value it for what it is worth.  This lady's words hit me in the face like a swarm of angry hornets and it stung all day.  Because she was right.  If Devin, or my mom, or my dad, or any of my friends had been there they might have said the same thing.  I hope they would have said it in a nicer voice, but they would probably have agreed with her.

I struggled to be a mom for the rest of the day.  I don't know if it was a sudden attack of postpartum brought on by her words, but I kept thinking, "She's right. You don't deserve these girls.  Who do you think you are, that you can be their mom?  You really are no good at this."

When Devin got home from work I was ready in my shorts and running shoes.  I handed him the baby, her arms reaching out towards me as I walked out the door.  I ran one mile, slowly, and I kept thinking, "I should just quit.  I'm no good at running either.  What's the point of it all anyway?"

Something inside me kept making me take one step, then another, until finally Shakira came on the playlist.  I'm sure my neighbors were thinking "What does she put in her kool-aid?" because man, that hip-shaker can really make you move.  Then that song ended, and I started slumping down again.

This time, instead of slowing down and stopping, I told myself that I was going to run, full out, leaving nothing behind.  I was going to burst a lung or die trying. 

Two unexpected things happened.   The first, I didn't know I could run that fast.  If my track or soccer coach had known, it might have been a game changer.  The second unexpected thing was that I found myself screaming at that unknown lady at the mall in my head.  "You don't know me, lady.  I am a good mom.  I'm sorry you caught me at a bad moment, but I am a good mom."

I reached my goal point and began walking.  And crying.  I walked it off, picked a new point in the distance, and did the whole thing again.  "You Don't Know Me, Lady." I yelled at her in my head as my feet pounded the sidewalk.

A third time, "YOU. DON'T. KNOW. ME."  I ended right at my mailbox, went in to my house, and collapsed on the floor, crying and sweating, and sort of laughing too.

Hanna was very concerned.    "Did you fall down?" "Did you just step on something?"  "Did you run over a car, Mommy?" These were the actual questions she asked me.

We ate dinner, had family night, and made cookies.  Right now I am feeling humbled, grateful, tired, and ready to be a better mother tomorrow.

So thanks, strange lady at the mall today, for pointing out my weaknesses.  Maybe next time you could use a nicer tone of voice?  Just a little suggestion for you

And thanks, Shakira, for helping me keep it real.

And thanks, beautiful family, for thinking I do a pretty good job even when I have days like today.

Thanks world, and let's hear it for a better day tomorrow.


  1. we all have bad days as moms, it's hard work. And I think your are an incredible mom, someone I look up to and admire.

  2. You rock Amy! I have had similar days where I feel like I failed. Thank you for sharing your story. I am grateful for new days to try to be better than the day before. I am glad we get second (and more sometimes) chances. You are strong and an amazing example to me!

  3. check your email for my comment. =)

  4. I definitely have days when I win "worst mother of the year" awards. And other days when I am confident that I actually did something worth the love that my children bestow on me.

    I think you're a wonderful mother, and you are one of the most influential examples I have of motherhood.

    And I'm impressed at how fast you ran. :)

    I went to a new class at the Y today, and it was way intense. There was music playing throughout, and one of the songs was "Survivor," which I cannot hear without thinking of track and field. Love you!

    I'm glad you had Shakira there for you.

    And I'm sorry that particular stranger had to be there at that exact moment to say whatever was said in such a hurtful way.

  5. Hey very nice blog!

  6. I am really glad for your whole experience. If someone had asked me how Amy would handle an "abusive" incident from a stranger; I would have confidently replied. "Amy, are you kidding, she would ponder the experience, learn the lessons taught and become stronger. It would not have occurred to me however that you would bother to learn to actually run faster too. That will probably come in handy. Yes, you are among those, whom I ask myself, "How would Amy handle this" and then I sigh. :)

  7. Unfortunately, I have more "worst mother ever" days than I wish. And you know, those days I know it. We don't need some random stranger sitting next to us making rash judgements and saying something. Thank you very much. Sorry you had to go through that - but hey, it gave you a good work out.