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Monday, December 20, 2010

A Letter to Myself in 2006

Dear Self,

I know you are taking time out of your incredibly intense existence to read this.  I know as you look at the page, you aren't able to pensively nibble at the end of your pen as you contemplate the next brilliant phrase to jot down.  I know your air of mystery and sexy aloofness must be put on pause, and that the corner couch of the Starbucks will be wasted on you for these few moments, but I have an important message:  Get over yourself.

Yes, that's right.  Life is not all about you.  Your dreams will come true or not, based not on your image right now, but on the decisions you make that pertain to real life.  And more importantly, I come bearing the message of tolerance.

Do you see that harried mother in line with her three kids in tow?  Of course you see them; they've been bothering you since they walked in.  "Isn't this what Chuck E. Cheese is for?" you asked yourself under your breath.  As her five-year-old ran past you and stepped on your designer heel, you rolled your eyes and glared at her.  Because that's what she needed.  On top of having the great burden (and joy) of having to trot out her entire family just to get a coffee, on top of having to try desperately to keep them in line (literally and figuratively) she needed some strange young thing shooting eye-daggers at her.  I'm here to plead with you, give it a rest.  Karma's a bitch, so they say.

And, by the way, that's not what Chuck E. Cheese is for.  It's what Starbucks is for.  Just as you have the right to sit there pretending you're an artist, that mom has the right to grab her morning coffee.  She'll be gone in a few moments, along with her brood, and, unlike you - whose life will go right back to normal - she will have to trot out her family and keep them in line for the rest of the day, the week, the month.  She is doing an incredibly hard job.  A job about which you know nothing.  I'm asking you, as your future self, please, reserve your judgement until you know something.

You see that frazzled woman trying to wedge herself in through the door with a double stroller in front of her?  Instead of exasperatingly shoving past her to go out for a smoke and avoid her crying babies, why don't you hold the door and help her in?  Babies cry less when they're not being jerked and jostled around.  Instead of stewing outside in the cold about how those little creatures are bringing the entire atmosphere of the place down, why don't you attempt to keep that atmosphere you hold so dear by helping her keep the peace?  Karma is a bitch, so they say.

I know you think that your children will never flop on the floor in public because you'll have taught them better than that.  I know you think you'll never let them crawl around on the dirty floor.  I know you think that as a parent, you will keep your incredibly well-behaved children out of the way of other patrons.  At 23, you know it all.  You know those other parents are doing it wrong.  They're clearly indulging their children to the maximum and then foisting them upon innocent bystanders just trying to live their adult lives.  Obviously, they have no discipline and don't care about their children or the other people watching the shenanigans.  Why aren't they listening to the message you're sending with your eyes? You know the message:  shut your kids up.

They aren't listening to your message because you are an idiot.  In fact, they are pointedly ignoring your message, and possibly laughing a little on the inside, thinking, just you wait, little miss, just you wait.  Because, don't you know?  Karma is a bitch.

So, instead of trying to freeze those mothers and babies out of your consciousness, try helping them, or at least giving them a kind smile.  They don't need you telling them that their children are getting dirty on the floor.  What you don't know is that the mother is helping you.  She's probably been you before.  She's made the choice to allow her children to roam a bit because she knows they'll be quieter that way.  You could have a happy child accidentally step on your foot, or you could have a screaming and miserable child being forced to wait in line.  Or you could have exactly what you want, which is that no mothers or toddlers should ever step foot in a coffee shop again.  But that's not the victory you think it is.  Forcing mothers of toddlers into hiding is a failure.  Who are you to oppress someone else like that?  For all you know, that coffee is the first that mother's had in a week.  And if she doesn't look as well put together as you think she should, save your animosity toward her appearance.  Karma, my dear girl, is a bitch.

Now, as I ready myself to clean jam off the carpet and mentally calculate how I'm going to get my twins to the bank and back with as little collateral damage as possible, I have one last piece of advice for you.  That well-behaved baby you see?  The one staring and smiling at you over his mother's shoulder?  He's lying to you.  That is not what babies are like.  No baby is calm and sweet all of the time.  And just as he falsely represents babies, so, too, do the ones wailing at top volume at the head of the line.  No baby is disgruntled and loud all the time either.  One thing that I know is true, though, is that both sets of parents are trying their darndest to raise happy, involved, curious, well-behaved children.  Would it kill you to help them along?

Those moms may be laughing at you a little bit, but I assure you, no one is laughing at you so hard as I am, the you of 2010.  Really, 2006 me, all I needed to say to you is this:  Karma is a bitch.

But, you know as well as I do, we're too wordy and pretentious for that.  Some things never change.

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  1. Well said, I could have written this letter to myself....I wrote a post last month about this same thing.. about when I used to be a PEWK...Parenting Expert Without Kids...

  2. Wow, this is great. I knew I was ready to be a mother was when I went from being annoyed with crying babies on airplanes to being sympathetic. It was like someone just flipped a switch.



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