My eyes tend to wander when I’m in the grocery store check-out line. Typically, I’m scanning the magazines and tabloids, catching up on two minutes of trashy news while I wait. The other day, something else caught my attention. I noticed a couple in the check out line next to me, waiting for their groceries to be bagged and loaded up. They had a double stroller with them, the kind that fits two infant car seats.
One infant was nestled all snug in her car seat. The other infant, let’s call him Twin #2, was strapped to mom in a baby carrier. Twin #2, who looked to be about two-months-old, was clearly done with shopping. He was screaming as loudly as his little two-month-old lungs could manage. My eyes drifted to the parents. Their faces revealed a combination of emotions: embarrassment, stress, exhaustion and frustration. I could almost read their thoughts. Ugh, why did we think this was a good idea to bring both babies to the store? It’s just a matter of time before Twin #1 starts crying. And we’re stuck at the grocery store with no place to nurse. What were we thinking?
I wanted to leap across the check-out lane and give them a high-five. “Hey! You braved the wilderness with your infant twins and took them on an outing together. Good for you. Sure, your baby is crying, but none of us mind. You can’t stay cooped up in the house all of the time waiting for the day that they don’t cry any more. Come and hang out in the grocery store any time with those sweeties… it’s baby happy hour in here.”
Instead, I stayed quiet. I was quite sure that the mom and dad, with their furrowed brows, were not in the mood for my cheerleading that morning.
The incident triggered several memories for me, memories of parenting tension and shame.
I remembered feeling tense when my husband and I decided to take our newborn out on a dinner date with us. I couldn’t relax because I was eying the infant carrier the entire time, waiting for our little guy to wake up screaming. I recalled feeling pressure when my milk wouldn’t let down for my hungry 5-month-old baby and I had a whole dinner party waiting on me. I also remembered feeling shame when I was juggling both a tantruming toddler and a crying infant in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Here’s what I’ve learned since then: Babies cry. Toddlers have fits. Parents are imperfect. When we recognize and accept these universal truths, it makes parenting a whole lot easier.
My advice to the parents of those twins? Get out and about and ditch the embarrassment. Allow your babies to be babies, and allow yourself to be human. The rest of us are busy reading about the Kardashian’s in the express lane and not bothered at all by your baby’s crying. Or we’re dealing with our own fussy little one, completely preoccupied. Parenting is all about trial and plenty of error. The trick is to give ourselves and our babies loads of grace as we work through the trials and embrace the errors.
Here’s to Sanity and Tabloids,