People judge. They judge others every day, haphazardly. It’s like a plague that eats away at you. Today, I judged myself and just like that, I was crying uncontrollably in crowd of people. I couldn’t stop but I was in the city and I couldn’t hide. So I cried and rather than people judging, a friend, in the guise of a stranger, was there. Kind, considerate, understanding. I wasn’t alone.
It started yesterday. I was feeling sick about leaving Athena home for 2.5 weeks. It was a bad decision. I got caught up in it. She was going to join me and we’d spend the time visiting Latvia and Austria together. It was going to be beautiful. A bonding experience that I’d never forget. Something that would make me stronger as a mother, and I knew I was capable, but was it good for her? People started to judge. Asking me if I thought it was too far or too long of a flight. Asking me if she was too young. Asking me…; you know… just asking and asking. It ate away at me until I was consumed with it. Was I being a bad mother for dragging her on flight after flight for a trip that she’d never remember?
My mother-in-law offered to take care of her while I was away and I said ok. I convinced myself that it was best. She did it out of kindness and love and I even thought it would be good for Athena to spend the time with her grandmother, but deep inside I knew I would be the one to break. The daily moments are special because I share them with her.
In Latvia, I managed. I was touring regularly with a representative from Live Riga and she was more like a friend or even family member. It made it easier. Bearable. Even fun.
Then, I arrived in Austria and I was feeling more uneasy. It was a new city with new people and new experiences. Vienna is one of the places that I had on my list since I was a child. History, culture, beauty, music, palaces, and charm; I longed to experience it.
I visited Schoenbrunn Palace yesterday and it was filled with gems for the entire family. As I strolled through the zoo, I saw a hippo and I remembered Athena’s reaction to the hippo at San Diego Zoo. She couldn’t stop laughing at the hippo poopies (the hippo’s tail). I laughed at first but quickly fought back tears because she wasn’t at my side to see the new hippo. I shook my head. Shook it off. I would see her in less than a week. She was fine.
Again at the Children’s Museum, I fought back tears as I watched little girls trying on real princes dresses and exploring the children’s rooms in the palace. It was only a matter of time before I lost it. There was so much that Athena would have loved. The zoo, the dresses, the horses, the real carriages that looked like something from Cinderella.
There was so much that I loved. The palace, the zoo, the gardens, the traditional dinner, and the Mozart concert. It was more than I ever imaged. I was in the pages of royal history and walking their paths. I managed. Then today came.
I visited Prater Amusement Park and I sat down to eat kasekrainer, a sausage with cheese. (It was absolutely delicious by the way.) I was the only one sitting in the out-door dining area but I could see people walking by. In that moment, my mind was still. I wasn’t thinking about where I was visiting next or what train I had to catch.
Those judging demons crawled through my brain like a spreading virus. Why did you leave her home? Why did you listen to others? You could have managed. She’s home without her mother. She’s going to remember that you abandoned her. And just like that, I was crying uncontrollably.
The tears rolled down my cheeks. I turned my head away from people passing by but they were on both sides. I held my breath and counted to five. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Think of something else. Get control. Salzburg tomorrow. What time am I getting the train? When should I pack my bags? More tears. More people noticing. Less control. Damn it! I could feel my face getting red. Blotted with marks.
Then a woman, alone, sat down at the table with me. Something in German. “I only speak English; I’m sorry.” Calmly, she said, “It’s a cold day, isn’t it? Can I help you?” I shook my head and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just visiting and I’m away from my daughter. I just miss her. Everything is fine.”
We chatted for more than 30 minutes. She said that she didn’t have somewhere that she needed to be, other than there. She’s a mother too, although her children are grown.
She said that while my daughter may remember me being away, she will also cherish all of the worldly stories that I have to share with her and all of the future adventures that we will have together. She will know that she is loved and I am a good mother.
I came to Vienna for the culture, the history, the sights, the sounds. Not once did I think I was coming for the people. It never crossed my mind. Yet there she was.
All of this made me cry more because I knew it was true. But now I was crying for a different reason and I wasn’t alone so I didn’t care.
Vienna, you have everything I dreamed you would have but you have so much more. Clara, you have revived my view on strangers, who are not so strange.
We are all alike and never alone.
I am a good mother and I love my daughter with every ounce of my heart. She brings a light into my life that burns so bight it can be felt and seen from all corners of the world. These next few days will be filled with new experiences and I will share them all with Athena when I return home. She will always know that her mother loves her and every precious moment spent together.
Share this post as a reminder that we all need a little less judgement in our lives and enjoy the blessing that we are given.