Dear lady at the grocery store,
You see my two year old quietly snacking on goldfish and you smile. He reminds you of your grandson and those days many years ago when you took your little ones to the store. You remember the sweet smiles, the tiny expressions, the joy in your heart. "Enjoy these days. They grow so fast," she coos to me. I smile and nod.
Here's what you don't see...
You don't see his older brother who is home with dad because I literally cannot take both of my kids anywhere without 1) losing one of them; 2) causing a scene, or 3) threatening someone with dire consequences, 3,2,1 countdowns, and "OR ELSE!!!" screamed down the aisles.
You don't see the pen marks on his arm and legs that I washed off earlier in the day, after I caught the kids "decorating" our living room walls.
You don't see my tears from a weekend of exhaustion, over-extending myself, and falling into bouts of sadness where I wonder how I will make it to lunch... nap time... 10 minutes from now.
You don't see how slow they grow when you're counting by minutes. You don't see how hard it is when it is really hard. And it gets really hard.
You don't see, and you don't remember. And maybe someday I won't remember either. And it's not because those moments weren't there, but because I chose to forget them. And maybe you have forgotten them too.
But they are there. These days can be hard. And it's OK to admit it. It doesn't mean I am failing. It doesn't mean I am doing something wrong or different than anyone else. It's because other people don't see these moments. They don't see the tears. They don't see the pain, and the exhaustion, and the monotony.
These moments exist. They are very real for all of us. We will not find these moments on Facebook. We will not catch them on Instagram. But they are there. They are hard. They may try to break me.
I will not let them break me. I will fight back, get help, and demand change. I will call in my troops... my partner, my family, my friends and tell them what I need. I will call my doctor, my therapist, and if I don't have one I know my friends have recommendations.
I will ask for help. Not because I am weak, but because I am STRONG.
Dear lady at the grocery store. You see me with my two year old, but you don't see me. There's about 30 layers under this surface at Aisle 9, and every single one is real and complex. And thank you for reminding me to embrace the good times, because I will... and I always do. But there are bad times too. For me, and for everyone.