I was recently searching for my car in a Walmart parking lot, praying my Ben & Jerry’s wasn’t melting, when I had a moment. I literally stopped walking and stood still for a moment.
A bumper sticker on the back of a mini-van said matter-of-factly:“I Used to Be Cool”.
Me too, girl.
I wanted to high five whomever was inside the store, trying to make it through the frozen foods section with a couple of kids and zero energy. I wanted to run back in and find her, and smile at her, maybe even hug her. Because I GOT it. I got that she probably wasn’t psyched about driving that mini-van. That she’d worked all day (either in an office or in her home: both exhausting). That she had 582 things on her mind, and forgot her shopping list, and her kid had missed his nap.
I was on my own adventure that evening. I had the rare opportunity to leave my son with his dad, and drive somewhere by myself. There’s a chance I may have even rationalized “needing” something from Walmart, so that I could reasonably grab my keys and leave without an infant seat and diaper bag in my arms. I felt free; to roll all the car windows down and blast the radio (& sing along) and not have to worry about anything besides myself. Let’s be honest: I felt like pre-baby me. Like Jenni before pregnancy and childbirth, and being responsible for a perfect little person whom I’d helped create.
Being a few all-consuming months into my raising-a-kid journey, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of that old Jenni in a while. And while I was blissfully happy and fulfilled as a mama, I hadn’t (still haven’t!) yet struck a balance between taking care of my child and taking care of myself. Like, I wash my hair once a week and hold a baby while I eat. THAT kind of imbalance. I kind of missed old Jenni.
That mini-van woman, I knew she probably understood.
If I had found her and met her, and shook her hand, there are some things I would tell her, to commiserate and laugh; to connect. Because it’s comforting to know that there are others that feel similar things that we feel, that someone else can empathize with our struggles and laugh knowingly with us about our joys. I would tell her not to be embarrassed that she talks to herself so she doesn’t forget the milk and paper towels. I’d confide that I too sang along with the 90’s music playing in the grocery store. We’d talk briefly about how awful we slept and how our backs always hurt, and how that made us feel old.Maybe she’d be a fellow fan of essential oils and using tinted lip balm as cheek color, on the rare occasions when we wore makeup anymore. I know we’d bond over the dark circles under our eyes and the horror that is finding random black hairs on our chins. Perhaps she would tell me about the Pinterest recipe she was going to attempt for dinner, and I’m sure I would show her a picture of my little boy. One of us would ask ‘did you see who’s playing at the AMP tomorrow?’ and we would take a minute to think how fun it would be to go have a beer with friends, and sit outside, listening to good music.
Then we’d snap back to the fact that we’d most likely spend that night giving baths and eating leftover pizza, with ‘Dateline’ playing in the background. Besides, we agree that we don’t really like driving in the dark anymore. Plus, concerts are expensive. And the crowds…and the heat. And being out “late”…. And damn it, our backs hurt!
We would laugh and look at the time and bemoan the traffic in which we were about to be stuck.
I with my ice cream melting, she with her kids yelling from the back seat. We would go our separate ways, back to our lives. But we would drive away feeling that a club had just been formed, a friend had been found. Another woman, in the same town, folding tiny clothes and wishing for a private bubble bath. A woman who used to never miss a concert and didn’t need to make a shopping list or keep tweezers in her bag at all times.
We would smile later that night, in our separate homes, and think a good thought for each other. And it would warm our hearts, us former cool girls, knowing that there are others like us. We wouldn’t feel quite so lonely, and we would decide that we actually were still pretty cool, just in a new and different way.
I hope we would remember to smile more at other women, to signal that you get it, you see the cool in them, and you’re proud to be in the same club.
About the Blogger
Jenni Beeman is a NWA native, by way of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. She misses the salt & sand. Mama to an Angel, Ava and a Rainbow, Silas. Jen is an amateur photographer and finds beauty in the ordinary. She’s a lifelong writer and loves the smell of old books. Coffee snob & day dreamer; crunchy/chic bohemian who seeks to live by this motto: “I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.” (Anne Lamott).