It’s confession time, people and I’ve got a big one for you…
Today, I was a bad mom. I didn’t mean to be a bad mom. I didn’t set out to be a bad mom and in fact, I had the exact opposite plan in mind, but sometimes, shit just happens. And today, what had happened was… a whole lotta life! You see, I had this entire Sunday Funday Family Day planned out for myself and my two little men. I try to do special things with them and mix up our weekends with a different adventure as often as possible to shake up the normal routine and occasionally, I’ll spring a “big” surprise on them. This part can be a little tricky because their age difference, which is 4 years, means that they are both best friends and mortal enemies and completely the same and total opposites all at once and alternating between any given moment. It can be challenging to find things that excite both of them at once so I try to alternate a bit. While this particular day was geared more towards my youngest son, I had planned little bits of it to appeal to my oldest and therefore, ensure that a good time was had by all…. Or so I thought anyway. In my mind, Sunday Funday Family Day would go a little something like this:
- We would wake up, get dressed, everyone would gladly put on their “handsome” clothes and then we would stop for breakfast at Starbucks (a treat we all enjoy) on our way to the next destination.
- The big surprise of the day would be seeing Paw Patrol Live at the Dr.Phillips Center in Orlando (with really awesome seats, might I add.)
- Then, after the show, we would shoot over to Winter Park for lunch at Domu in East End Market (because momma loves ramen) and have bottomless boba mimosas (virgin for the boys, all the way for me, please.)
- And then, to top it all off, we would have dessert, in the form of giant, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies, at Gideon’s Bakehouse (recently named the BEST chocolate cookie in Florida by USA Today and according to Gideon’s website, they may also be the best on the Planet.)
Background information: We live in a really small town about 45 minutes outside of Orlando. This town hit its peak in the 70’s on the back of the space shuttle program. Most of it’s residents are the same original inhabitants aka it’s kind of an old people town. They do not like change. They love chain restaurants and the local Wal-Mart is pretty much the epicenter of all the things, which means that there isn’t much to do or see in our little neighborhood that we haven’t already done or seen… multiple times. There aren’t a lot of food options and the entertainment is pretty weak unless you frequent Wal-Mart at 3 am, which is probably standard in most any town with a Wal-Mart. The highlight of the last three years was the opening of our very own drive thru Starbucks, which thrilled these coffee lovers to no end. So its safe to say that we tend to take our outings to the city very seriously and I always try to take advantage of every single moment/meal, hence the full day of wonderful things for everyone to enjoy and for all of the beautiful memories to be made (clearly still living in my mom fantasies here.)
But as you have probably already imagined, it did not go as planned. This is real life, after all, and on this particular morning, there was absolutely no room for my silly day dreaming or mom life fantasies. Instead of the Sunday Funday Family Day Fantasy that I had so foolishly been hoping for, real life had to interveine. The reality of the situation began to set in shortly after wake up time and pre-Starbucks breakfast time. That’s right you guys, my Sunday Funday Family Day Fantasy didn’t even survive through breakfast. It all started when I made one simple request to my sweet, darling, perfect children. What was the request that sent us into a nosedive, you ask? Well, as per my plan, once we had been sufficiently awake, I moved into the next phase of the plan and I had the audacity to ask them to pick out and put on decent outfits. The guidelines for a “decent outfit” were as follows:
(1) No rips, stains or tears.
(2) Every article of clothing must be the appropriate size for your body.
(3) The pants and/or shorts that you choose must be actual pants and/or shorts; NOT pajamas or gym shorts or bathing suits. (My littlest has an obsession with basketball shorts aka “squishy shorts,” as he calls them and will instantly melt down when he is asked to wear anything else. Even in the freezing cold. Even, apparently, on Sunday Funday Family Day.)
Do you know… it took them FIVE attempts to find an outfit that met the qualifications?! Three rules. Five attempts. Five. That means the first FOUR times, they got dressed and came out of their rooms in something that broke at least one of those three (seemingly) simple rules and, in turn, had to be sent back to their rooms to try again. Four times this happened. So by the time we arrived at attempt number five, I kinda lost my shit. Then I yelled at them. And my oldest pouted for the next 45 minutes straight. I swear, the commitment to a tantrum is incredibly strong in that one. And in his pouting state, he said some really hurtful things. And then I said some really hurtful things back. And then I cried. And then he cried. And it was terrible. And we were all crying and the day was totally ruined.
But you know what? In some sort of twisted turn of fate, we managed to get through it. We eventually made it out of the house and we miraculously made it to the show and into our awesome seats, Shirley Temples in hand, right on time. Everyone had fun, no one starved to death and it was a fabulous (half) day. Really, truly, it all worked out alright and through a lot of apologizing, discussion and forgiveness, we were able to turn the whole fiasco into a lesson (for all of us) in patience, in listening, in intention, in gentleness and in compassion which we then sealed with a boba mimosas toast at Domu. Yes, we even made it to lunch and dessert! And while my mom guilt may continue to rage on for quite some time, there is a sort of peace in my heart and a hope that someday, my boys will look back at this day (and so many others) with gratitude.
It is my hope that they will remember not only the time that mom yelled at them for taking five attempts to find an outfit without holes, rips or stains and that was the appropriate size, but that they will remember how much their mom scarified to make these days happen for them. And that they will remember all of the heart to heart conversations that took place after mom messed up; all of the lessons, the apologies and the “we’ll learn from it and we’ll do better next time” talks. It is my hope that through openness and communication, they will learn how to express themselves, to own their feelings and to know that there is no such thing as perfection. While every mom hopes that her children will look back on their childhood through perfectly rose colored glasses and remember all of her best efforts and only the loving devotion that she showed to them, I know that this is not reality. Reality is messy and imperfect and sometimes we yell and sometimes we cry and sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, we hurt the people we love. As a mother, it is far more important for me teach my boys the value of making mistakes, recognizing them, admitting them, and learning from them than it is for me to model an unrealistic ideal of adulthood. It is my hope that together, we will grow from every single experience that we have; the good, the bad and the ugly. This, my friends, is what I call balance.
Dear Bad Moms of the World,
You are not alone. Sometimes, motherhood is losing your shit because your children can not, for the life of them, find a shirt that has no stains and that fits them and sometimes, it’s singing and dancing and ridiculous human sized dog puppets and virgin Shirley Temples. Regardless of what our social media shows or how much you may think we’ve got it all figured out, no matter how many smiling, posed, perfect photos of other people’s children you see, hear this: No one is perfect. So when you start to approach the edge of your sanity, take a deep breath, regroup and order a damn mimosa. We’re all just doing our best here and fear not- No one gets out of childhood without a few scars; emotional and/or physical. And in case you have already forgotten the lesson from my story, it doesn’t matter that you make mistakes; all that matters is that you learn from them and grow through them. And never doubt that if you’re doing the best you can, You’re doing a great job.