One weekday morning, I took my girls to the nearby jumpy place. My four-year-old daughter loves bouncing in the inflatable jungle while I hold my seven-month-old daughter and make small talk with the other moms and occasional dad. That morning, I recognized a mom from my older daughter’s dance studio.
“Hey!” I said. “Melissa, Grace’s mom.” Because this is how we as moms identify ourselves.
“Right—dance class,” she replied. “How are you doing?”
She was tall and thin, blonde hair, too. As usual, she was wearing a coordinating yoga top and pants (LuluLemon) that she accessorized with diamond stud earrings and an oversized Louis Vuitton bag. She fit the stereotype of the standard well-heeled stay-at-home mom.
We began chatting about how well (and not well) our children slept as babies. She mentioned that she initiated sleep training when her kids were four months old. Well, I could have figured that—she looked like the “type” that prioritized getting a good night’s rest over snuggling her newborns. I mentioned that I was currently a very part-time writer.
She nodded in a knowing kind of way. Huh. I guessed I fit the stereotype of “very part-time writer,” with my travel coffee mug in one hand and baby in the other.
Let me tell you more, I wanted to say. There’s more to my story. But Grace ran over, in need of a snack, and I didn’t say anything.
Lululemon Mom and I saw each other again a couple of mornings later at our daughters’ dance class. That morning, the girls and I were later and more disheveled than usual.
“My husband’s out of town for work,” I told her as I rushed to comb Grace’s hair into a bun, “and things are a little bit of a mess right now.”
She smiled empathetically.
“Does your husband travel for work too?” I asked.
“Oh, I’m divorced,” she said.
“I’m so sorry…”
“Oh, it’s OK,” she said, waving her hand. “The kids and I are OK now.”
There was more to her story. She was more than the snap judgment I had made about her.
I didn’t ask her for details, though. Instead, we both simply agreed that it can be hard taking care of your family on your own.
For me, for a few days. For her, every day.
When we see people, we only see part of them. We can only guess part of their story. And even then, it’s just a guess.
We don’t know the moms around us until we talk to them—really talk to them. Until we take our conversations beyond the surface topics of our kids’ sleep, easy weeknight recipes, and fall’s new TV shows.
Until then, all we know is just part of the story.
I love stories. Always have, beginning with the Nancy Drew mysteries when I was little. Now that I’m older, I need to remind myself that people have rich stories, too, stories worthy of chapter books.
The covers of my old Nancy Drew books were worn; the cover illustrations, old-fashioned. But the stories that unfolded inside, chapter by chapter, captivated me. I looked beyond each book cover to discover the whole story.
People aren’t stereotypes, despite how they appear.
The girls and I went back to the jumpy place. As usual, Grace bounded into the inflatable jungle. And this time, I tried not to jump to any conclusions about the other moms there.
- Why I Stopped Saying No to Screen Time
- Remembering Our Babies
- 3 Tips to Get Kids to Stop Waking the Whole Family
- The Mommy Mirror
Read more from the INSPIRE posts
PIN MORE THAN A SNAP JUDGMENT FOR LATER
This post was written by Melissa Leddy exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.
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