I'm sitting in a restaurant the other day with two of my children when in walks another mom with two children in tow.
While I was sitting there looking like a dumpster diver and my children post-whatever-practice they had just come from - Mom B (the other mom) and her children looked like Victoria Beckham on casual Friday.
Unattainable perfection was the only way I could describe this upon first glance.
Hair - stylish, nails - painted cutely, outfit - effortless without looking homeless, physique - toned enough to suggest gym time rather than just born with it.
I probably stared.
Okay I stared a bit.
I know it's bad manners to stare, I wasn't raised in a barn, but this - this perfection - is a whole level I cannot seem to achieve, I couldn't help myself.
Upon staring though, I started to see the cracks in the foundation.
What initially looked like something I could never hope to be started to look.... cranky.
"Objection Your Honor. Speculation!"
"Sit down Bradford's mom, let the woman tell her story."
See, if you would just glance quickly at this woman, you may continue to believe the perfection facade but stay a moment and reality floats over like a storm cloud...
She opened her mouth and a stream of (loud! I wasn't staring AND eavesdropping, I swear!) complaints just spewed forth like volcanic ash.
Hot, angry words that she seemed to have an endless supply of.
Have you ever heard the expression "poop rolls downhill" - this is literally the only thing I can think of after Mom B starts talking. That up at the top of the hill was a teensy, tiny little piece of poop. A small dog's turd. And some how, some way, one of her children accidentally gave that thing a shove with their foot and now that turd is rolling southward through the dirt and picking up speed and size as it goes.
This image played and played in my mind all the while the woman was obliterating her children for doing things poorly. Until... it was their turn to order and Mom B stepped up to the counter and the foul spewage immediately ceased and a fake-cheery smile pasted itself on in its place.
That's the moment I realized the teensy dog turd had rolled and rolled and come to its final resting point as a gigantic dung beetle home piled at the bottom of the hill.
Mom B's whole image was the dung beetle home.
Which, I know it shouldn't, but made me feel gloriously better since I no longer had to sit and wonder why I was sooooo far off the track she was on. I didn't need to question it. It was just a different track. Running parallel to my own. I was no better for having a civilized conversation with my two kids nor was I worse for looking like a dumpster-diver while doing it.
She was no better than I for pulling off a Melania Trump look nor was she any worse because she was yelling at her kids in public.
We were just different.
Different focuses. Different priorities. Different moments.
Do I yell at my kids?
Does she probably sometimes maybe look less than casually-chic?
Yes. I would think so. No one wakes up like that, do they? (Rhetorical question, Gisele, thanks though.)
Here's the point: (by the way thanks for sticking with me through all the poop talk,) we're not here to judge.
It's not our job. It's not our place in life. (Unless you really are a judge but I'm speaking about a personal level not occupational. Thanks for letting me continue my story though, Your Honor.)
Maybe Mom B took one look at me when she walked in the door and thought, what the hell is wrong with that girl? Couldn't she have found some shorts with an actual button on the top? But then, perhaps after the duration, maybe she saw me chatting with my kiddos about their practices, maybe she heard us laughing over the story my Middle Man told and maybe she thought, oh - just because she looks like crap doesn't mean she's a crap mom. She's obviously feeding her kids and they seem relatively happy.
Maybe she thought that.
Maybe she didn't but I would like for all the moms to recognize - wherever you more closely align yourself in this story, to remember to give yourself a pass and a pat. You don't have to try to look like Mom B all the time. You don't have to have funny and engaging conversations with your kids like Mom A all the time. (By the way that's me. I'm Mom A.) Neither Mom B nor Mom A are your competition.
You are. You are your own competition. Its just you. Trying to be a little bit better than the person you were yesterday.
Better dresser. Better listener. More prepared. More punctual. ...Something.
Don't worry about Mom B. Don't worry about Mom A. Just say hi and move on and worry about feeding your kids and making sure they don't act like the turds at the top of the hill.
(By the way, I'm sorry, that was a long story to get to that point. Also a lot of talk about poop. I apologize. I'll try to do better next time... after all, that is the point. Be better than the person you were yesterday.
Note to self, goal for tomorrow: dress a little better and no turd talk.