I took a breath and opened the door to the bank. As I did, the boys darted around from behind me to race up the steps. I took a look around and sighed; the bank is being remodeled inside, and things are always in a different place. I located the table where I could fill out my deposit slip and started hobbling my way over; my back was out. Again. Always.
“Boys, come stand near Mommy.”
They made their way over to me, chattering and talking and generally making their typical level of noise. Despite the non-stop sound, they stood right next to me, occasionally peeking around the corner of the table to make faces at me in an attempt to win a Mommy-smile; it is their one goal in life. But I was tired and in pain, so I gave BigBrother that look that said, “These faces are okay, but watch it, mister.” He just smiled at me.
A voice came from behind me.
“You have your hands full, don’t you?”
I turned to look at this bank employee. I didn’t know this lady; she was neither young nor old — the ages that I usually forgive this type of comment.
I looked at her for a second before responding. “No, not really.”
My initial reaction was anger. I freaking hate that comment. It’s just heavy with condescension. The underlying things that aren’t said in that statement — the things that I hear anyway — are as follows: “Your kids are loud.” “Your kids are misbehaving and it is a reflection of your poor parenting skills.” “Your hair is a mess, your jacket is buttoned wrong, your pants don’t fit properly and your youngest isn’t wearing gloves; you are failing at this game of parenting.”
And yes, my jacket is usually buttoned wrong; I don’t know why, it just is. Yesterday, I was rocking the messy pony tail, no make up and a huge zit. My children, at least, had on properly zipped jackets, hats and one of them was even wearing gloves. My kids are loud, they always have been loud and they always will be loud; have you met me? And despite my best efforts at parenting, sometimes my kids misbehave. I’ve accepted it; so should you.
I took a deep breath and let it go.
I shrugged it off. Logically I knew she likely didn’t mean anything negative. Just another person making a comment that simply rubs me the wrong way. I finished writing my deposit slip and reached into my purse to grab the checks I was depositing. And then I dug a little deeper.
And then, right there in the bank, I started pulling things out of my purse. Receipts. A half-eaten bag of Doritos. Another bag with a half-eaten Starbucks chocolate chip cookie. One glove; at least my youngest could have one warm hand. A coloring book. A car. A mustache. A super hero mask.
No checks. None. Not one.
Before I left the house, repeating over and over, “Put on your jackets, hats and shoes. No, don’t argue. No, don’t whine. Just do it,” and I thought to myself, “Don’t forget the checks sitting on the counter.” I probably said it in my head as many times as I said, “Don’t dawdle. Let’s keep moving.”
I forgot the checks on the counter.
By this time, my sons are fast-walking (“Not running, Mom!”) around the table in a game of slow, not-quite-chase that will end with one or both squealing. “It’s time to go, boys.” They both stopped immediately and looked at me with big, sad eyes. “But Mommy! We didn’t get lollipops!” I shuffled them both outside as they whined and complained and questioned what was going on.
“I forgot the checks at home.” I snapped LittleBrother into his seat without pinching his inner thigh, wondering to myself if he’ll ever be big enough for a booster or if I’ll be snapping him into a seat when he’s 18.
“Why did you do that?”
I paused, took that breath I sometimes have to force myself to take and put on a smile.
“Because I have my hands full, don’t I?”
A pause. I wait; I know.
“No you don’t, Mommy. There’s nothing in your hands.”
Perhaps, looking back on the way things went down yesterday, the truth is this: My hands are full. And maybe that’s okay.