Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Connects Us

I'm thrilled to have Sherri from Old Tweener as a guest poster today. I've loved getting to know her through her blog over the last six months and chatting over Twitter. She also has amazing fiction-writing talents that I've been lucky to enjoy through The Red Dress Club's Red Writing Hood meme. (Unlike me, she actually participated in and completed NaNoWriMo!) Her posts are always poignant and often funny. Don't take my word for it - she's been featured on BlogHer! So without further ado, I present, Sherri:

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What Connects Us

Being a woman in my mid-forties with older kids, I don’t always feel that I fit in with certain groups of women. 

I have friends with young kids and friends who are grandmothers. 

So while I do have lots of friends who are my age, we aren’t always at the same station in life.

And when I’m out in public, I’m finding more and more that I feel a bit lost in the crowd.

I smile nicely at sweet, grandmotherly ladies in the store who are shopping alone. Maybe I make small talk with them in the grocery store checkout line about the weather or the crowds.

Women my own age either seem too busy to make small talk or have no interest. There isn’t usually much eye contact, and I’m not always sure what to say to start a conversation with them since it’s not obvious what we have in common.

But the moms with little ones? Toddlers? Newborns?

I love talking to them.

They take me back in time when they share a few moments with me.

So now I’ve become that odd lady at the grocery store or Target that parents warn their kids about.

Last week I saw a young mother shopping with her little boy in the toy department at Target. The little boy was probably about 4 years-old, chatting up a storm about the new Legos.

I was captivated by his little voice, his excitement about the Legos, and how warm and loving the conversation between he and his mother was.

He transported me back to when my son was that age. How many trips to Target had I made with him, chatting away about this and that, trying to finish my errands? My son was equally crazy about Legos, memorizing the sets in each category as this little guy seemed to.

I couldn’t help but stare. And smile.

But after happening to run into the two of them in several different aisles (and yes, I was really shopping for toys) I finally had to talk to the mom.

So she wouldn’t think I was trying to steal her kid.

Or on drugs.

I caught her eye, told her how cute her little boy was, and that he reminded me of mine.

Who wasn’t so little anymore.

She brightened to talk about him for a moment with someone who would listen. We laughed about the Lego addiction, and she seemed relieved when I told her that they kept my son busy for hours on end.

For years.

And that woman in the grocery store yesterday? She looked so frazzled with her three little ones in tow. Grocery shopping on the best of days isn’t fun with kids.

I couldn’t help but comment about her daughter’s sweatshirt, which happened to be from the college I graduated from. Which led to a discussion about how wonderful that area is, and how she hopes to move back there one day.

Her daughter reminded me of mine; back when she was willing to wear her hair in ponytails and wasn’t concerned that her pinks didn’t quite match.

As we talked, only for the amount of time it took the checker to move through a few customers, she relaxed a bit. We made a connection.

I think this is part of what I am loving about blogging.

I’ve met so many talented and wonderful ladies during this past year. Their stories about their lives and their kids connect me to them.

Even when the mirror reminds me that I’m already past that station.

So the next time an older, somewhat gray-at-the-roots lady who’s shopping alone smiles at you and asks about your kid?

Be nice. Humor her a bit. You just might make her day.


Sherri said...

Thank you for inviting me over here today, Jennifer!

gopopgo said...

So that woman who has been following me around the grocery store ISN'T stalking me because she finds my love handles to be endearing, but instead, she just wants to talk to me about my kids?


Great post, Sherri!

And don't worry, Jennifer. Comment Nazi understands you won't reply :-P

L. Eleana Johnson said...

This is so true! I love when moms who have been through what I'm now going through stop and talk to me. I feel like I'm part of this club of mommys that made it!!

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Thank you, Sherri, for sharing this great post!

And, Pop, I'm so glad Comment Nazi and I are on the same page.

Eleana, thanks for coming by! I know exactly what you mean!

KLZ said...

It is such a relief to have someone talk to you rather than just staring in judgment.

You see Alex in a checkout line? Impulse buy heaven. He screams and squeals and tries to crawl up my body. Many people just stare. It's so, so nice when someone talks to us instead.

Jennifer said...

Love the message!

Lula Lola said...

Sherri, you can always, always make me smile and get choked up with your posts!
I'm on the way out of having a little one. My baby will be six in April. I sometimes catch myself doing this same thing when I see people with babies and toddlers. They absolutely mesmerize me.
As a mom of little ones, the days sometimes seem so long. But, when you look back, they only lasted a minute.
I really wish you lived closer to me! You're a good writer when you make someone feel like they'd like to be your neighbor!

Liz said...

Sherri, you could stop and talk to my girls ANY day!

And I want to believe they'd seem to you exactly the same way I talk about them on my blog!

Poppy said...

Most of the times, I find most moms more than willing to talk about their kids. Some of my best conversations have been in the checkout line of the grocery store. Of course, I've also offered to give them away there too!

Jessica said...

I love this Sherri because I see myself in a few years in it. I think I will always feel connected to being the mom of little ones, even with one much older and can't quite imagine myself any other way yet. You are such a great example of the good things that are yet to come.

Stacey said...

Sherri~I love that you are that nice lady who helps us moms of little ones survive a trip to the store!! I love it when people talk to me. It makes me feel human and not just a crazy mom trying to survive! Great post!

stardustdawn said...

It's so nice to hear from a mom like this. I love reading all the mommy blogs online, and joining parenting e-mail groups, and I work as a volunteer with moms and babies, but I feel a little left out because it's mostly for moms with preschoolers, and there isn't much out there for those of us with older chidren. Mine are 10, 15, and 18, and I really don't feel like that much time has gone by since I was the Rookie Mom with her first baby. (yeah, it really really does go by fast- that's not just a cliche! I feel like my purpose in life is almost over already!) It is so nice to connect with other moms, and it's wonderful and beautiful and yet still ~hurts~ to see all these young ones and know that I am past that now. I was thinking this just tonight while walking by the baby clothes and toy aisle at Target!

Mrs.Mayhem said...

Sherri, I truly love reading your posts. You help me to see that I'm not alone in my feelings. My baby will be six next week, and I so miss the younger stages. It helps to think that most mothers feel this way, and that I'm not the only one!

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Oh I love this post Sherri. Women like you often brighten my day. I run into women who smile and nod as we pass by in stores. Sometimes, they are behind me in line chatting up my children.

I love it and I too love connecting with women all in different phases. You especially because you write with wisdom and heart...a mom who has been there. Thank you:)

julie gardner said...

Beautiful post to which I can relate. I'm 42 and my children are teenagers. Many of my friends began having children a decade after I did.

I leave my kids at home when I head to Target. Or the grocery store. And when I'm out, I see little ones who remind me of a stage I was probably too overwhelmed to enjoy but now miss with thick nostalgia.

I smile at the babies. I wave to the toddlers. I talk to the kids and probably freak their mothers out. A little.

So I can relate. And thanks for sharing.

And now? I'm off to Target.

tulpen said...

I am also that person in the store who will talk to anyone, especially about my kids. I'll start the conversation, or be happy to oblige when another does.

Tonya said...

I love love to run into Sherri in Target, the grocery store or anywhere for that matter. I love the message in this piece and I am a HUGE fan of Old Tweener. Thanks for hosting her here today. I'm your newest follower.

The Sharp's said...

This is a great post. Too many times in the store I'm so focused on remembering what I came in there for and getting home before it's time for the little guy to eat again. My face is probably far from welcoming a conversation.

I was actually just stopped by an older woman yesterday that begged to peek at my newest son and shared how hers used to be that small. It brought a smile to my face even though I was reluctant to stop and take the time.

I'm glad you do this and reach out to the moms. It makes their day too!

I enjoyed the post!

Nicole said...

What a great post! I'm kind of like that now. I realized how much I had not been out lately when I kept talking to some woman about baby formula even as she was obviously trying to get away....hahaha. But this is also why I enjoy blogging because when it's freezing and I don't feel like lugging the twins out - blogging helps to connect me to others in some way. Although, nothing beats a real, in person connection....it still makes motherhood less lonely. See you all at Target!

Yuliya said...

This is probably just the frazzled still relatively new at this mommy gig hormones talking but this post made me tear up...DAMMIT SHERRI can't you ever give me a break on the crying thing? Write about politics or religion for a change, I am sick and tired of all these emotions you are constantly forcing me to feel with the power of your writing!

Sherri said...

Oh Yuliya, I'm sorry!

Can we just go to Target at the same time, and I'll stop you and chat you up about that yummy little girl of yours?!

Because I'm totally not into blogging about politics or religion.


Cheryl said...

Good LORD this post was fabulous. And when my kids are your kids ages I will be much older than you are now, so I will totally be the crazy Target lady!

You add so much to this blogosphere, Sherri, and I am truly thrilled we made eye contact and started a convo.


Booyah's Momma said...

I feel like I know what you mean, Sherri. At least a little.

When I see a woman in the store with a baby... a LITTLE baby... I can't help but stare a little. And, sometimes if I feel brave enough, strike up a conversation with her.

My kids will never again be that little. But sometimes... connecting with someone who does have little babies helps me relive some of these awesome moments all over again.

Paula/Lulubelle said...

Wonderfully expressed, as usual!! I feel like that crazy lady sometimes, too!

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