This is #8 in The Motherhood Letters, a monthly feature by author Jessica Rios. Rooted in universal themes of motherhood, Jess shares the essence of her unique art of mothering through letter writing. You can learn more about Jess and her work in the author box below.
To the Two Mamas Watching Me Walk Down the Sidewalk,
It was a fresh feeling, sunny morning. You stood together, watching me walk by on the sidewalk pushing my daughter in the stroller she’s had since she was an infant. She’s five years old and as tall as many 7-year-olds. Yes she’s outgrown the stroller. And yes — we still use it.
Many parents might be embarrassed pushing a big kid in a stroller. Many parents might judge me for my choice. I can hear their thoughts now... “If she can walk, don’t push her in a stroller...” or “Oh my gosh I can’t believe you’re doing that.”
You might have muttered amongst yourselves as I walked past you, criticizing me for my unusual choice. What’s interesting is that instead of feeling criticized by your muttering and the common cultural perspectives, I actually feel splashed with acknowledgment for being willing to do what works for me and my family.
Did you know why I was pushing her in the stroller that day? Do you know why I still use it even though she’s outgrown it? Because she fits in it, and because we walk a lot. We try to drive as little as possible. We walk long distances and I get exercise that way. She sits in it and I get to stretch my legs with big wide steps, feeling my mama blood rush with joy and endorphins. When I walk with her, I don’t really get exercise. Plus my daughter enjoys being in it, and I see no good reason not to make use of a tool I’ve got to take care of myself.
By taking care of myself, I teach my daughter that her mama matters and taking care of ourselves matters. I am modeling self-care for her. Did you recognize that when you watched me with criticism under your breath?
Instead of criticizing each other — even about choices that appear strange or distasteful to us — can we celebrate each other trusting we are all doing our best?
Are there choices you make — about what you feed your children, how you support them to get good sleep, where they go to school, what they wear — that you wish others wouldn’t judge because you are doing your best and you’re awesome? Even with our so-called faults, we are enough, aren’t we? Isn’t our splendid imperfection what makes us human, so quirky and so lovable at the same time? Something to consider.
Mamas need each other. Let’s be a village, eh?