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I have a confession to make. I’m nothing special.
Most of my days are spent wrangling small children, cleaning up messes, breaking up arguments and feeding people. I clean up poop several times a day, and it’s rarely my own. Despite my best efforts I live in a perpetually messy house. Occasionally my entourage and I go on short hikes or spend time outdoors. I wish I did that more.
It’s not glamorous, but it’s my life.
So last week when I went to the Outdoor Retailer trade show I felt out of my comfort zone by a lot. The biggest companies in the outdoor gear world are there. Thousands of dollars are spent for brands and people to connect. Sales are made, fortunes gained or lost. Actually I’m not sure about that last part, but suffice it to say people have their professional game on.
What did I have on? A baby.
Baby L is not quite five months old. Her only source of nutrition is breast milk meaning that wherever I go, she goes. While Big E was at campOR (loved it) and little g was playing with cousins, Baby L was strapped to my body all day long.
She was there when I checked out new products, talked to new people, even when I went to the bathroom. I fed her in a stairwell, storage area, even in the parking lot. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the only way I could’ve gone to the show. Side note: would it be that hard to leave a chair in the womens restroom so a breastfeeding woman can feed her baby in peace?
I was very nervous when I arrived at the show. Obviously I was out of my league. Carrying a baby on me is a far cry from the professional persona I tried to portray.
But here’s the thing. Professionals don’t always act professionally. Instead of people looking down on my for bringing a baby along, Baby L became a rock star garnering attention everywhere I went. Strangers would smile, coo and talk in baby voices. Random women asked to hold her or keep her at their booths all day. But what surprised me most was a comment someone made in the bathroom.
Baby L was in her MobyWrap smiling at people in the mirror while I awkwardly washed my hands (it’s not easy to have a 15 pound child strapped to your front). A woman two sinks down looked in my direction and sighed.
“What am I even doing here? I should be home with my three year old.”
That’s all she said. That was enough.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have felt just a little worthless being a stay at home mom. Not a lot worthless, but enough to think I’m not cool enough or somehow I’m not on equal footing with women in real careers. But in that moment things changed. Here was a career woman jealous of my messy, unglamourous life. The tables had turned. I had something desirable – the freedom to spend every day with the best kids in the world. My own.
I know many women out there with strong feelings on this topic and I would love to hear them. For me, I’m just a little more grateful for my life and I can’t wait to try that next great adventure with the tots. Being a Mountain Mom is the best job I could imagine.