A few weekends ago I was browsing the produce section of our local grocery store with Azita on board, snuggling close to me in her sling. As I walked through the aisles, I did the mom thing that annoys everyone who isn’t a parent — I pointed out every fruit and vegetable and told her the name, described the shape and color and basically tried to turn this chore into a teaching moment. As she tends to do, Azita smiled and made googly eyes at just about everyone who passed by. This is probably why it no longer surprises me when I notice people staring when I walk about town with her. She is staring at everyone else after all. After a while though I noticed the produce manager staring for a really long time, so I turned my attention and looked him in the eyes. And there I saw something unmistakable.
He had the look. The look of a parent at work, missing their child and seeing their baby in just about any child they see. I knew this even before he spoke up to talk about his 4 month old daughter at home. I know this look well, because I can feel myself giving it to parents I see whenever I venture outside of my office during the day.
I participate in a lot of parenting discussion boards, and one of the topics that seems to crop up frequently is the full-time mother vs. working-out-of-the-home mother struggle. We all struggle with it in different ways. Fathers do also, but maybe it’s the fact that our children are physically a part of us for 10 months that makes the struggle so much more of a struggle for mothers. No matter what situation you’re in, it’s hard to not feel guilt and longing.
I can understand every point of view, but maybe it’s my desire to stay home with Azita that clouds my thinking a little on the topic. I once read a post written by a full-time mother who stated that she felt like a loser when she sat at Starbucks with her children on a weekday, watching all the women in their suits, carrying their briefcases, rushing to get a coffee on their way to a glamorous day at the office — all this while she┬á sat at a table in her yoga pants and hoodie, trying to get her children to drink their milk and eat just a little bit of a muffin.
I’ve been the woman at Starbucks. The one rushing to get to an office. If I had more time before work, I would be that woman more often. And, as I read that mother’s post, the glimpse she provided into her innermost thoughts, I was actually kind of shocked. I was shocked, because when I see a mother at Starbucks with her children in the middle of a workday I envy her. I look at her the way the grocer looked at me and Azita, browsing for produce. The word “loser” never even crosses my mind. The word “lucky” does.
It kind of puts things in perspective sometimes to remember this. To remember that no matter what your position in life, there is almost always someone looking at you from the outside thinking your grass is greener. And, maybe remembering this will even remind you just how green your grass is, even if it isn’t the shade you want.