I took my little boys to the store last week to grab a few things. As we were walking into the store, W spotted it. It was one of those grocery carts with a car attached to it, but this was one HUGE. It was the longest thing I had ever seen. It had 3 sets of wheels, the grocery cart equivalent to an 18 wheeler especially to a mom wearing a baby and preparing to push a 40lb. toddler in that contraption. “I want to ride in THAT,” he said. Of course he did. I wasn’t sure I could even hoist him in, since I had the baby strapped to my chest, but never wanting to disappoint my little guy, up he went.
We grabbed an apple from the fruit cart, and started off with W happily munching and “steering” at the same time. His steering was going so much better than mine. The cart was a joke. It would not steer. When I would steer, it would suddenly veer causing me to lose control. I dodged displays of wine cases, narrowly missed running into other shoppers, and tried with all my might to get this thing to go where I needed it to go. At times, I would have to put my whole body into making it turn only to have it stubbornly refuse to move. People were staring. We were quite a sight, and no one seemed to know how to help. I didn’t blame them. Needless to say, I was a liiiiiiittle bit frustrated.
That’s when I realized the only way to get this stupid cart to go where I needed it to go was to back it up first. Want to turn left? Sure, take 10 steps backwards and then make the turn. Need to move a little to the right? No problem. 7 steps back while gently steering got us there. It was maddening. And in that moment I realized: it was motherhood.
How many times do we have to take a step back before we can make any forward progress? The sleep regressions that arise in a beautifully trained sleeper, the potty training accidents after we were certain they had mastered it, or the tantrums that reappear just when we thought the terrible 2s (or 3s or 4s) were behind us. Or how about the discipline approaches that just don’t seem to be working or the conversations that seem to fall on covered up ears? This is what motherhood is about, isn’t it? It’s about the side doors, the back alleys, and the emergency escape routes into the minds and hearts of our precious little ones. No matter how tired we are, no matter how heavy (literally) the load is, we press forward. We push on, and when that doesn’t work we need to remember to back up, to look again, to reevaluate what we are doing, and do something different if we aren’t getting the results we want.
ISo go forward, fellow mamas. Or actually maybe go backwards. Sometimes that’s the best way to get to the checkout line. Don’t forget the wine.
Find the joy~
**Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a consultation.