In an attempt to get rid of a migraine Sunday I laid on the couch with a hot pack, watching the Teen Mom 2 marathon. I’ve never seen the show before but I’m pretty sure it’s not a recommended migraine cure. Until I finally watched an episode or ten, I don’t think I realized why I avoided it (aside from the fact that it’s a trashy reality show aimed at a generation I am years from being part of).
I cringed at the train wreck of a show. Girls leaving their babies with everyone but the local party store clerk, guys coming in and out of their lives treating parenthood as optional. I didn’t want to see myself in any of it. I wanted to see Ashlyn’s childhood through rose colored classes with a side of glistening sunshine.
But maybe there were a few things I identified with.
At 19 or 20, grocery shopping made me anxious. Not just because I had a three year-old ready-to-run-at-any-second child with autism strapped in my cart, but because I was trying to put on the best I-can-do-this show while performing the ultimate mom task.
I pretended to know just what coupons I could double and I always, always wore my glasses.
They made me look older.
I tried to not let my mouth fall open as I debated over cream of mushroom or chicken and wondered if people thought I was running errands for my mom. Scanning toddler cookies for sugar content was usually the point, I decided, most thought I was a dedicated nanny.
I spent years upon drama filled years trying to be a “mom.” Shuttling my daughter to doctor appointments and clumsily attempting time-outs, I was never really sure if this was what motherhood was supposed to look like.
Sunday night I grocery shopped by. my. self. and who says you can’t get nostalgic in a grocery store when you have time to finish a full thought inside your own head without being interrupted?
Standing in front of the canned tomatoes, trying to decide between stewed or diced or paste, I flashed back to the uncertain 20 year-old trying not to blow her cover. My heart started beating faster as a confident shopper breezed by, quickly grabbing spaghetti sauce. She didn’t even have a list.
There will always be someone doing it better, or at least making it look that way.
I shopped my way from aisle 5 to aisle 15 mulling over high fructose corn syrup and parenting failures then got as excited, as always, when the cashier told me how much I saved.
My trunk piling over with groceries I pulled in our driveway to a crowd running to greet me like it was Christmas,
not a single one of them noticing I bought rye instead of wheat.
Today I’m over at Childswork sharing one of my favorite things about Ashlyn and many other kids with autism. Maybe I didn’t do so bad after all, or maybe she’s just amazing.
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