Like Murphy’s Law, my reign as #ninjamommy has come to a very abrupt end. While I do feel like I have been a #zombiemommy at times. I also would like to introduce you to #jugglingcircusmommy. She probably needs very little introduction. Juggling Circus Mommy mysteriously keeps all balls in the air. She seems like an optical illusion. She is amazing. She is strong. She is ever-so-efficient. But, unfortunately, jugglingcircusmommy has no idea whether she is coming or going. She is a little confused, frazzled and quite obviously overwhelmed. She takes on more things to juggle with aplomb but often seems like she it teetering, just on the edge, of losing all of it. She’s a circus act. In every sense of the expression.
And with that allusion, I bring you my story that will be called going forward: My Awkward Moment at Target.
I wasn’t even wearing red. I was wearing pink. I was feeling blissful and rebellious. I had fulfilled all my lunch and dinner making responsibilities for the day– even got in a workout– and was delighting in the wonder of a trip to Target alone. Meaning by myself. Meaning my kids were at home. Oh they weren’t alone, my husband was there. But I was alone. Did I mention I didn’t have my kids with me?
And like all funny and terrible stories start– that’s when a lady I can only refer to as Blind- like really blind-lady, “where are the sweatshirts?”
I blinked at her and paused ever so slightly. She could not be implying that me, standing there looking at workout pants– me, who just juggled myself through a horrendous day—me, who was wearing PINK could possibly look like a Target Team member.
She COULD NOT be implying that the woman who had wiped butts, made lunches, tutored kids, graded papers, led discussions, sent professional and eloquently worded emails, shuffled children and attempted to potty train a two year old all-in-one-day could possibly look like she had a second job in retail?
Really, lady? Really?
I saw the look in her eyes. You obviously have a sloppy cart and an almost red shirt and an all business look about you— so you must work at Target. She followed up with the classic, “Wait you don’t work here?” The sting of imminent tears tugged gently, followed by the instinctual desire to make a joke of what just happened. But I was not ready to laugh about it. Not at all. It took the whole rest of the shopping trip and my ride home to assuage my complete (and—I realize— irrational) anger. Knowing I shouldn’t marinade in these feelings, I texted a friend. While I know she had a good laugh, she also was able to agree with me in thinking that this woman must have been completely crazy and possibly a little bit color blind. Because, well, that’s what good friends do.
Please don’t misunderstand. Being mistaken as a Target salesperson is not the ultimate insult. I have worked my fair share of retail (Welcome to the Gap!) and food service (“Iced grande non-fat caramel macchiato for BILL!”) jobs. But, on this particular day, at this particular time, I just wanted to be a Working Mom by herself at Target.
There’s a backstory here. As there always is. Minutes before my unfortunate Target encounter, I had confided in another Mommy friend through text how conflicted I was feeling about my return to working out. I have relished in my time at the gym or a spin class after work while I knew my kids were playing hard on the playground. Taking the extra time for myself is both unnatural and at the same time glorious. Wouldn’t a good Mom rush to get her kids? (Answer: Never ask any question where you are trying to categorize what a good Mom and a bad Mom do) Have I undone all the quality time spent this summer by just a few weeks at work? (Another ridiculous question, shut up) Are people in my spin class wondering where my kids are while I just exercise as if I am a single woman with no obligations? (Now this is just pathetically vain– because how would they even know you have kids?)
Guilt as a Mom is at the same time the most frequent feeling and the most useless. But peel back the pluck of any poised and put together Mom and you see it. Big. Fat. Guilt. Glaring at you, with yogurt around its mouth, and unfolded laundry strewn about its feet. Big, looming Grade A, top of the line–guilt. The kind only a jugglingcircusmom can understand.
I dedicate this blog post to all of you who juggle. To the stay/work at home Moms, the working Moms, the stepmoms, the foster moms, the like a moms and the in place of Moms, I salute you. May you never have a woman at Target who makes you unintentionally feel crappy. May you be able to juggle without dropping a ball, and if you do drop a ball, I hope you have a slew of friends on speed-text to cheer you up. And when you get sick of the juggling, sick of the tug of war between laughing and crying, I hope you remind yourself that if you weren’t worried about being a good Mom, you wouldn’t be there here juggling to begin with.
Juggle on, Circus Mom. I see you. You’re awesome at juggling, awesome at multitasking, awesome at laughing at yourself and more than awesome at being a Mom. So don’t let anyone (even a lady at Target) tell you different.