When Maddie Grace was just a few weeks old, someone asked me if I was a “crunchy” mom. I had to Google the term, but even then it still wasn’t clear. I was breastfeeding, but I supplemented with formula. I used disposable diapers, but I did carry her around in one of those slings sometimes. I was pretty sure I wasn’t crunchy, but who knew? My hair was definitely crunchy. Today, I am proposing a new term for myself: purple. I have a feeling there are a few more “purple” moms out there too.
You see, purple is my favorite color. My LuLaRoe leggings today remind me of that poem “When I am old, I shall wear purple with a red hat…” I’m 37 with ankles that ache from chasing an 18-month old, but that’s not why I’m purple. All in all, I absolutely love being Maddie Grace’s momma. Motherhood is everything I hoped and prayed for during my years of infertility. But, to get to the purple, one must mix reds and blues -- the frustrations and the sadness. It does, however, come out beautiful in the end. This morning has been the perfect example of being an imperfect or “purple” mother. I am a middle-school library media specialist, and it’s the first day of public-school spring break. So what better idea than to take my eighteen-month-old daughter to the public library’s story hour? I strapped Maddie Grace into her little pink backpack/harness, and together we strolled through the stacks.
I was thrilled when she picked a book off the shelf and started turning the pages. I was not so happy when she started tugging the leash and demanding to play on a computer during story time. The man trying to work quietly in the corner wasn’t so thrilled either when Maddie started to cry as I pulled her away from said computer. I gave her a pacifier, even though I had demanded my husband this morning not to give into her. Everyone on the second floor of the library was relieved. Our next fun outing was lunch at Chick-fil-a. I thought arriving at 11:15 would be early enough at the popular restaurant. Wrong. There were no parking spots, except at the hotel next door. I carried my twenty-seven pound toddler across the ditch and walked into a crowded restaurant with lines at the counter, no spare high chairs, and no empty tables. But I wasn’t giving up that easily. I didn’t want to have to strap her back in the car seat already, and I needed caffeine.
A kind employee secured us a high chair, and I wheeled Maddie Grace up to the counter in it. Only to realize that I had grabbed my 2016 discount card this morning, not my 2017 one. Surprisingly, the manager at the register next to ours still gave me my free fries and Diet Coke anyway. He must have a “purple” wife, because there was a certain understanding in his eyes that our clerk didn’t have.
A friendly couple motioned for us to take their table, which was next to three moms with a total of six kids, two under six-months old. I don’t know know how they do it. They have their own special color -- like rainbow unicorns with sparkles. Meanwhile, my one and only and I enjoyed a delicious meal. We sat across from each other like two ladies who lunch, and Maddie Grace ate her applesauce and grilled chicken nuggets all by herself. She didn’t even throw food on the floor.
Then we went to play area. Maddie Grace ran from play center to play center laughing and squealing in delight. She played with other kids too. I was one proud momma sitting cross-legged on the rubber mat until another mom came over and looked down at me. “Your first?” Guess it’s as obvious as my sister and I being American tourists in Italy a few years ago. How do they just know? I nodded.
“I never let my first come in here. Now that I have older kids to watch my third, we come a lot.” I smiled, hoping transparent me was only secretly smirking at her back-handed statement. She continued. “I can’t believe you would bring her here on a day like today You must not have known it’s spring break.”
“Actually, I work full-time,” I said. “This is my spring break.” I wanted to add, “and your kid pooped his pants.” But luckily I didn’t, because then I realized it was my toddler with the fragrant behind running around.
I took Maddie Grace to the changing table in the handicap stall of the women’s restroom. “You’ve got this.” I told myself. Until I realized there weren’t any more diapers in my bag. I looked down at Maddie Grace and smiled because what else could I do? “Sorry, kid. We’ve gotta go. I love you.” She grinned back at me. Luckily, since I had found a stuffed cat that she hadn’t played with in awhile, she wasn’t holding a grudge.
We are home now. She fell asleep in the car five minutes into our twenty-minute drive, so I am sitting in the front seat of the car typing this on my laptop. I’m pulled into the garage, letting her sleep with all the doors open because it smells like a toilet in here.
But I am happy, because today is a purple day. With a little luck, Maddie Grace and I will have more purple days this week. I’ll put a fresh set of diapers in the bag, but undoubtedly something else will be forgotten. Things will go wrong, but hopefully they’ll be outnumbered by the things that go right. As my grandma used to say, “You’ve got to keep on keepin’ on.” And that’s what purple mothers do.