I see the family in the store. The perfect, well groomed, well behaved family. Three boys, another on the way. Your tradition family, shopping together on a Friday evening. In one hand is a list, in the other a stack of checks from the state. She says one thing, he says another. One goes this way, the other that. They meet in the middle to discuss the next items on the list. They glance my way, stare a few seconds and move on their way.
Weve become the family you swear you never will be.
The ones who shop late to avoid disrupting you with our loud voices and attempts to plan the week. The ones with messy faces, and dirty hair. With rain boots and no coats. Mismatched socks, and a load of processed food that wont help little bodies grow the way they should. We purchase the generic brand, while you purchase brand names. We shop by price. Compare amounts and weights and do the fuzzy math that takes twice as long to buy the same thing.
I would apologize, but Im past feeling sorry for what you think.
We have loud voices because we havent been “Together” in one place all day and a shopping trip definitely counts as an outing. We try to catch up, to arrange the week ahead, who has to be where and why all while pushing the dreaded cart through the store, going as fast as possible without missing out on something important. We have messy faces because its been a long day, and while it has failure written across in many ways, its how we roll these days. A little dirt wont hurt.
Mismatched socks are better than none…and rain boots just seemed more practical.
Your son carries a small blue blanket. My nephew drags his worn bear because it gives him the comfort he needs. You say he wont bring that blanket to college, I say if he needs it to help him through high school, then so be it. You come from home, we come from therapist offices, school meetings, and late night ice cream dates.
You come from happy families and bed time stories, that end in fairy tail ways. They come from homes that are in horror stories and nightmares.
In a few hours you will do the proper thing that all “Good people” do. A bath, a bed time story, a little laugher, and a sweet good night. In a few hours we will rush in the door, put on pajamas, and try to remember to brush our teeth. We say good night, and sometimes turn out the light. While yours go right to sleep, mine lay awake. Waiting for the youngest to go to sleep. Where he alternates his nights between talking to himself, and screaming himself to sleep.
You might tidy the house, and go over the day.
I try to forget the past, and remind myself that future has to be better…because it cant be worse. You pray to remember, I pray to forget.
And when you turn out the light and consider your day a success, I lay in the dark wondering how much of what I did will harm them…and hope they will turn out alright.
You stare and try to understand…while I do the same.
Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t give a second thought. Maybe you were looking at the shelf behind us. But in that split second, when I watch you and your picture perfect family, I see what I don’t have…and used to want. I see what I don’t have, and never will have, and while my arms long for, and my heart will always miss and always ache…I try to be grateful that I have what I do. While you might not think twice about shopping with your family, your picture perfect happy healthy family, I realize what I don’t have, and am extra thankful for what I do.
Even when its hard to admit, for fear of admitting will bring more grief, I squeeze the shoulder of my oldest nephew and smile once more at my niece. I hold the hand of my youngest nephew and hope, that its enough.
You do your best, and succeed. I try my hardest and fail.
You ask – you get. I plead, and beg, and yell and loose.
Were different, but I don’t judge you anymore. I don’t turn the other way and get angry that you have what I don’t…what I want. Instead I choose to be reminded that I still have something, and something is enough. Even if I have to remind myself of that daily.
Thank you for being there to remind me on a day when I cant remember.