Sometimes the things that scare me are very mundane. Things I would have done without a second thought before I had a set of twins to haul around while I did them. For example, today I stopped for food at Panera with the twins while running errands. Panera is always a madhouse. There's barely room to walk around, let alone push a double stroller - but I was hungry & the food I can get at a drive-thru makes me feel like crap & I'm re-committing to taking care of myself even though it's so much easier to eat crap & feel like crap. So I went to Panera because it's better than McDonald's. (Yes, I realize that less bad does not equal good, but sometimes good is out of your grasp & less bad equals good enough for now.)
If you have never attempted to take a child or two to Panera, I don't expect you to understand how this could be intimidating. So I'll just walk you through it. Taking the twins to Panera requires getting through a set of awkwardly not quite aligned doors spaced just barely far enough apart that you almost need to have both doors open at the same time to get the stroller inside the building. Inevitably, people give irritated sighs and huffs as I try to finagle my way in the doors, but nobody holds a door open for me. Today, I found myself holding the door open for a woman playing on her smartphone who barely mustered a distracted wave of thanks.
Then I use the wheelchair accessible part of the line because the stroller doesn't work in the labyrinth of ropes that they set up to manage the line. I make a note of the person who came in after me & decide I will stake my claim to the place behind her. I tell the people who come in the door next that I am in line directly ahead of them, I just can't fit in the standard line. Today those people are a middle-aged woman, who smiles understandingly, and a teenaged guy, who rolls his eyes at me. Whatever. I wait my turn.
When I go to order, I have to leave the stroller behind because I literally cannot get to the register with it. So I stand halfway between the register and the stroller, loudly giving my order & keeping my kids entertained with silly faces at the same time. The woman who takes my order happens to be a twin and tells me I'm lucky my twins are not identical like she and her sister because "Ohhh, the shit we would pull!" We all smile and laugh as she takes my order. I tell her I plan on eating there, but to please pack it to go so I don't have to try to carry plates, cups, and push the stroller at the same time. I feel a twinge of guilt at the wastefulness of using disposable items when I have the option for something else, but brush it off as I imagine dropping a plate of salad & hot cup of coffee on a child's head.
While waiting for my food to be ready, I maneuvered the double stroller through the crowd, found a table, set up two high chairs, & then made faces at the kids until the food was ready. Then I took the kids (still in the stroller) with me to pick up the food. Got back to the table, realized I forgot my drink & headed back through the madness to get my drink, a flurry of "excuse me," "thank you," & "sorry" as people cut me off, walk into me, and basically act like they've never seen a stroller in public.
Finally, back at the table I get each twin into a high chair, park the stroller in the least obtrusive place possible & settle in to eat.
The twins were happily chowing down on fresh fruit & a grilled cheese sandwich. I was slicing fruit & bits of sandwich for them in between taking bites of my salad. And though I was exhausted, I was feeling pretty damn good about what I had accomplished. It was a hassle - but here I am, eating a meal in public with my kids who aren't throwing food or screaming. And I'm eating something that actually qualifies as food. I'm completely unaware of anything but my kids and our meals. It dawns on me that this is their first grilled cheese sandwich. Hell, it's their first sandwich. I resist the urge to take a picture. It's as close to serene as life with twins gets when they're awake.
Then I hear this: "Tattoos on moms are so trashy. Doesn't she realize how embarrassing it will be for her kids that their mom has tattoos?"
You guys, I wish I could say I had a biting comeback or shot them a nasty glare or at the very least kept quiet to practice showing my kids that assholes like that aren't worth getting upset. But none of that is true. Instead, I just deflated. I didn't buy into their bullshit idea that my tattoos make me trashy & therefore a bad mom. It wasn't that at all. It was that I had just done this BIG SCARY THING and some petty bitches who had just watched me do it felt the need to point out what they perceived as my flaws, to tell me that I wasn't enough, that no matter what I do, I will never be enough. And that's the scariest thing of all.
The fear that creeps in when I can't sleep at night. The unnamed, omnipresent dread in that back of mind - that even if I do ALL the things that scare me, I will still not be enough. Enough of what? For whom? I don't know - enough of everything, for everyone. But the truth is - there's no way I could be enough of everything for everyone - so this fear will always win by pretending that not being everything to everyone is somehow a failure on my part instead of simply being the nature of reality.
Most of the time, I laugh at this fear. I don't want to be everything to everyone, so good thing I can't. But sometimes, when I'm extra tired or threadbare, the lies of fear are easier to believe. And THAT'S what these bitches did. They made me believe the lies of my fear - right there, in the middle of the day, in front of my children. And I felt defeated. Not enough.
But that didn't last for long. An older woman walked up to me and said loudly, "You're doing great! Judging people is SO TRASHY, don't you think? Don't they realize how their ignorance must embarrass their children?" She smiled at me and said softly, "They're beautiful and so are you." I thanked her.
And then a man a few tables away asked the twins' age. I told him they are eleven months old. He smiled, "My twin boys turn a year old this week. I wouldn't dare take them to a restaurant by myself. You're very brave and an inspiration."
As the petty bitches left they cooed at the babies. I didn't even look at them. I was too busy sharing a moment of triumph with my kids.