I wrote this post on Facebook a few weeks ago and I was surprised by the outpouring of emotion that parents of teens felt when they read my words. On the night I wrote these words, my heart was aching in the best and worst possible way: Fruit Loop #1 had finally decided where he was going to go to college. Yes, C-O-L-L-E-G-E.
As I took in the joy and exhilaration in his face when he bounded down the stairs to tell us of his final decision, my heart felt like it was breaking into a million pieces.
Everyone tells you this time is coming, that moment when you know deep in your heart that your firstborn is going to fly the coop.
I’ve watched my friends say tearful goodbyes in dorm rooms.
I’ve watched as they prepare as if the Queen of England herself is arriving to their homes when they find out that their college kids are coming home for the weekend.
I could sympathize, yes.
But until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t empathize.
Yeah, I’m a mess. And I will be, for the foreseeable future. No apologies.
So, to the Mom at The Next Table, I see you.
But I’m not looking.
It hurts too much right now.
To see my original FB post, head here. Go ahead and give me a follow/like, too, while you are there, m’kay?
To The Mom at The Next Table:
I saw you maneuver your stroller next to the table across from us and I looked away.
I saw you and your partner order your dinners quickly. You skipped appetizers. You turned down the dessert that takes extra time to prepare.
I saw the glimpse of a bald head as you tried to hide your crying bundle under a blanket.
But I looked away.
I sneaked a peak as you bounced your bundle on your shoulder while you tried to eat your salad.I looked away.
I heard your sweet baby start to fuss midway through your main course and it was all I could do to focus on the conversation at my table.
I looked away.
And not because
I was judging.
I looked away because the sight of you holding a tiny baby with bare feet poking out from a receiving blanket was too much.
I looked away because I was afraid if you caught my eye that I’d say something stupid like, “it goes so fast!” or “I miss those days,” forcing my sadness on your happiness.
I looked away because as your partner cradled your fussy baby, I recalled with vivid detail what it was like to pace the floors at 2 am, wondering if I’d ever sleep again.
I looked away because the pain of sending my firstborn to college is so visceral that I can’t breathe some days.
And, I looked away because I remember so clearly what it was like to have moms like me try to tell me what was coming.
So, to the Mom at The Table Next to Me, I see how hard it is to take a baby with you on Date Night.
I see how hard it is to deal with a screaming baby in a nice restaurant.
I see how hard it is to want a nice night out with your partner.
Just know that some of the moms who are looking away aren’t judging.
We know you are a good mom.
We are just wiping away tears for what used to be.
It’s sometimes harder to be the mom without the screaming baby in a restaurant.