Everywhere I go these days people seem to think I need help. There’s just something about a mom with a baby and a preschooler that just says, “Disaster in the making.”
Part of me thinks it’s sort of funny. I’m not entirely new at this motherhood thing. Most of the time I can easily manage a baby, a preschooler, and an armload of stuff without breaking a sweat. So I just smile and shrug off the offers of assistance. I know they mean well, but I’ve got it Together. No need to be alarmed on my account.
Sure, I’ve had my moments. I remember one trip to the library when Jacob was still pretty new, and Hannah really just needed me to pay attention to her. To read her the books she’d picked out without it becoming all about The Baby. Of course Jacob was fussy and would have none of it, and no amount of jiggling or shushing or nursing would do. A librarian came over and asked if he’d been hurt after he let out a particularly plaintive wail. I ended up crying my way through the self checkout process that day.
But those moments are becoming increasingly rare. At 6.5 months and 4 years I can generally take the kids out in public without causing a scene. Neither of them are prone to temper tantrums or running at the moment. Still, disaster can strike at unexpected moments. Like on Friday, when I had Jacob in the mei tai and I was carrying my tray of food through the IKEA restaurant. He managed to crane himself around and grab the salad bowl, spilling its contents across the floor.
An employee saw me, and told me she’d clean it up. Then she offered to help me get my drink and find a table. I declined politely. Then she insisted. I believe her exact words were a firm, “Ma’am, I’m going to help you.” I guess that cleaning up lettuce is one thing, but cleaning up meatballs and root beer is quite another.
So, yes, maybe I do need help from time to time. Maybe all moms do. It’s a hard job we’re doing, and sometimes by insisting that we do it all ourselves we’re making things much harder than they need to be. For ourselves, for our kids, and for the poor people working at IKEA.