You cannot force yourself. I mean, you can try. And it’s fruitless. That’s what I think, anyway.
Parenting just has an ebb and flow. And occasionally, more often than I like at any rate, the piping backs up and we’re a mess. A big messy mess.
It’s slightly embarrassing that I’m the only mother yelling across the play area at the mall. And all the other mothers stop chatting about this and that and hold their trendy pink travel coffee mugs mid-air and stare my direction. Like I’ve broken code. Like I’m just totally breaking all the rules of appearing like I have it all together. I thought the stained t-shirt, flip flips in Fall, and baseball cap would have given that away on our entry – but apparently not so much. And there I sit, a big messy mess – yelling for Quint to not slap the moses-supposes out of some hapless 6 year old. I mean, he’s little – but never underestimate a toddler. He will take a big kid down. It’s on like Donkey Kong when my son is in range.
And so it goes.
It’s slightly disenchanting when you have a mall picnic planned. Lunch packed. Organized stroller. Wipes, check! And then your child spits egg all over you. Hard-boiled, dry egg yolk. And it wasn’t his fault. Not really. It was dry and he’s had a cough. And it was all over my hair and shirt before I could re-think the whole making a coughing kid eat a boiled egg for lunch at the mall picnic-thingy. I might have yelped. And those around us, hoping for a quiet lunch-break in the food court? They didn’t have that quiet lunch break. No, no they did not.
And so it goes.
It’s really hard to think straight when your sweet baby girl…that cute, chubby little goddess who stares up at you with such longing and tenacity decides your leg is theirs for the biting. And it’s not like we planned it out this way. Biting is a no. A big fat NO. But apparently? I have a lot to chomp down on and in a moment of weakness, she could not resist. Only I was in public. And it was embarrassing the way I shrieked like a school-girl and burst into plump uncontainable tears. I have a poor pain tolerance. It’s my thing. Pain. No tolerance.
So there I am crying. Because I’ve been bitten. And I have egg in my hair. And I opened up my “mommy boom” in the play area and all the other moms stared at me and made me feel stupid and mean and horrible. And I have egg in my hair. Seriously.
And here’s the moral of this tale. As a mother, I have many moments of joy – certainly. But I also have many, many moments of messy mess. It’s the ebb and flow. The “mess” was probably in the fine print, but as with many things, I didn’t read all that heading into this gig. I missed the bit about the egg. How bout’ you?
I also know that on those messy days I am unusually hard on myself. To be more. To be better. And while I don’t know why I like to kick myself while I’m down, I do know that it’s a very hard cycle to break. It’s on our worst days that we rise to fan the flames of insecurity and discontent. When we start finding towels to throw in. When we break down a little bit more.
And I said all this, on here, in this way to tell you something that a mother of four told me at the end of this messy day.
She said, “on your worst day…you’re still doing a great job. You are. You’re doing it.”
And you may have a sore bite mark on your leg, dried egg on your face and in your hair, and the memory of contemptuous gazes fresh in your mind. You may. You may have cried a bit more today than you’d care to talk about. But you’re still doing it. Little by little.
Ebb and flow.
Messy mess by messy mess. And you’re doing a great job.
And this too shall pass. I know because it says so in the fine print.