Motherhood is humbling. Period. You realize all those times you judged others are now reversed. All eyes are on you now. You are the mom who can't control her kid in the store, the family no one wants to sit next to on the airplane because your kids started wailing before the boarding process began, the parent of the child with the dirty [actually just chocolate, but looks like dirt, and if it is chocolate, shame on you anyway for giving candy to a toddler before 11am] face at church. You have become "one of those people."
Up until about the age 2, Parker detested his car seat. Strapping him in was equivalent to an Olympic event. I would have to wrestle him into the seat, pin him with my elbow, avoid his flailing, pinching, scratching hands, tug his arms through the straps, and fasten the buckles. I sigh now just thinking of it. I would close his door, sink into my seat, and exhale. Then I would gear up for the car ride home, during which he would scream incessantly. It was absolutely exhausting to go anywhere.
My very good friend Danielle came to visit us in Seattle and had to endure several such rides. One day we went to the grocery. We finished our shopping and loaded the van. After securing Parker into his seat, I shoved the cart onto the nearest curb, slumped into my own seat and started the van.
Danielle was a little taken aback..."Jess, aren't you going to put the cart back?"
Me: [Head resting on the steering wheel] No way. Just get in. Let's go.
D: But...I can't believe you just leave it there. I always put the cart back. I'm feeling a little bad.
Me: I used to, too...before Parker. Now I have him, and I understand why there are carts all over the parking lot. It's okay. [Ear-piercing screams emitting from a tiny mouth directly behind me.] Can we just go?
I realized that in that moment, I had become "one of those people" in her eyes. The inconsiderate-too-lazy-to-return-the-cart-driving-up-the-cost-of-groceries-lady. Oh well.
Now, I smile when I see carts all over the parking lot. I am not judging those who left them there. I actually feel some pity for their plight (whatever it may be). Things haven't changed much in our van. Though Parker climbs into his seat and waits patiently to be buckled, a new contender has entered the ring. Maddie has yet to win a match, but I have several scars [scratches] to prove she is a worthy opponent. My approach has changed a bit. I utilize the same technique to strap her in, but these days, I am putting the cart back.
See, once she is in the van, I don't torture myself by listening to her cries. I simply slide the door shut. I smile as I hear the gentle click of the lock and then walk slowly to the cart corral. Ahhh. What was once a deafening shriek becomes a dull roar, then depending on the distance to the corral, silence. I lift my face to the sun and drink it in.
Perhaps I have become another "one of those people." The lock-your-screaming-kids-in-the-car-and-walk-away-lady. *Sigh* At least I'm putting my cart back. :)