I cannot leave my home without a well-meaning but meaningless barrage of unhelpful advice being flung at me. Much like rotten tomatoes, it leaves me angry and defensive and it usually stinks.
“They’re only two once.” Says the woman in the cereal aisle, as I tell my girl to leave the cereal on the shelves, and my body language says that I’m a hairs breadth from losing my cool.
She’s wrong, of course. Children are two for 365 days. Except this year. This is a leap year. I get a whole extra day.
A few aisles further down, as I tell Fiona ‘no’ for probably the hundredth time since we’ve entered the store, an older woman says, “You’re going to miss this.”
No, I’m not. I love my daughter. I’m going to miss her blowing bubbles in her milk. I’m going to miss the way she feels when she’s a solid sleeping weight on my chest and I carry her to her bed. I’m going to miss hundreds of little moments when they’ve passed. Grocery shopping with a two year old is not one of them.
“Those are beautiful curls. I wish my daughter had hair like that.” She smiles as she says it, and I understand what she means. I say, “Thank-you.”
What she didn’t get to see was the special-ops chase and restraint mission that I went through to leave the house. This nice woman in the store didn’t have to chase down her two-year-old, wrap her in an old towel, soak her head, slather her head in conditioner, and then comb it out slowly, painstakingly, all while using two legs and one arm to restrain her and listening to her scream. Every day I wonder if I should just shave her head. I find myself wishing that the sweet, silly woman’s daughter had hair like that, too.
The advice is well meant. It’s sympathetic. Not a single one of these women is trying to be mean or awful. They still manage to tick me off. They simply don’t understand or don’t remember what it’s like to be in the trenches of motherhood.
There is no way to avoid the advice, the comments, and the compliments. I’m beginning to believe that the only thing to do is to arm myself in return. Maybe a small Tupperware container of tomatoes should join the Cheerios in my purse. Yeah, that’d show them.