I could feel it in the question.
My seat mate on the flight to DC.
“So who watches your children while you travel for work”, he inquired?
The question poised a few moments into a benign conversation about our respective careers and travel.
And now he was judging.
Or was I judging myself?
A moment of self reflection in seat 17D at 9:35am on a Monday. But first, really, if I am being honest, a moment of self hate.
My mom was there. Everyday with a smile and a hug when I walked in after school.
And I, now as the mom, almost a 1000 miles away when they walk through those doors.
How do I reconcile the judgments in the eyes of that stranger with the feelings of accomplishment from the career I have and the role I always dreamed of- being someone’s Momma?
Do I apologize to this stranger for the life I have chosen? Or is the apology to my children when I walk in the door at 8:30pm that night?
No, I will walk it back.
Move away from my own self-hate, for not being the perfect woman.
I will think about the dinner time conversations where my girls first words are “tell us about your day today Momma”.
I will remind myself of Audrey’s desire to be a lobbyist, Sidney as an equine vet and
Ellery the drill sergeant.
I will remember the times when I have been juggling and the girls have stepped in. How Sidney makes dinner, Ellery “cleans” the house and Audrey takes care of the dog. How they have learned to live in this community. That the family doesn’t begin and end with Momma, we are in it together.
I smile at the gentlemen next to me.
I choose not to answer the question and instead describe my little family.
Those girls 11, 9 and 5, their hobbies, personalities and the joy they bring to my life.
He tells me about his three boys now all grown and starting families of their own.
And before we both know it, the wheels are coming down and we’ve begun our descent.
No more judging. Neither he of me or I of myself.