Good morning, all. I like to think that with all the years of working with kids that I had before starting my own family and the 6+ years in parenting I have under my belt that I have seen a lot. Not it all, but maybe close to it? Not making me an expert of any sort, but at least there should be very little that surprises me or knocks me off my game. I had a day this past Memorial Day weekend that kicked me to the ground. And then kicked me again while I was down. It was not the best side of my parenting and I definitely lost my cool with my family. Not super proud of that but mommies can always apologize and promise to try to do better, right? : )
I don’t know if any of you are like me, but I always have incredibly unrealistic expectations for weekends. Holiday weekends, even more so. So this past Memorial Day was no different. Here is a partial list of what I thought we could do/ had planned for those four short days:
BBQ with friends, attend a birthday party, remulch and weed the landscaping, move some plants around, go to the store and get a deck box for our patio chair cushions, set up the patio with the furniture that was still packed away from the winter months, go to the zoo, clean the house, catch up on laundry, build a bench out of a headboard/ footboard set I’ve had for years, catch up/ skype with family, get groceries, cook, make a dent in our DVR list, relax, take a nap, take a bubble bath, and so on…
So, therein lies the problem. I know it’s not a realistic list. But I still give it a try and then am so disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I want. Hubbs just stands to the side with an expression on his face between a cringe and amusement. He knows how this is going to turn out. And he knows that it’s probably not going to be pretty for me, him or the kids.
Take my unrealistic to-do list and add in the craziness of military life and raising two kiddos on the autism spectrum and half the time I feel like we should be starring in our own sitcom. Not a slapstick one but the kind where the characters can’t even see the humor of their own situation because they are so thick in it. That was us this past holiday weekend, in the thick of it. After a morning of trying to get things done at home and having trouble because many of those things required our boys to occupy themselves doing something safe and constructive. Well, bless my kiddos’ hearts, they were having none of that. So after a few hours and some frustration we decided to take a family outing to Chick-fil-a and grab some lunch, give the boys a chance to play and get their wiggles out. Surely after that they’ll want to go home and rest and we can start checking things off the list, right?
It all started fine as we got our food, got the kids’ shoes off and started them playing. Hubbs and I were eating and I was enjoying being able to have an actual conversation with him. By the third bite into my chicken sandwich, I was feeling pretty good about the rest of the day.
Why do I get so aggravated with my family? I thought to myself.
Why in the heat of the moment do I forget how blessed I am?
I made a mental note to do better and that is when I saw my son’s naked tush through the finger-print smudged glass of the play area.
Um, excuse me?
I blinked and shook my head a little but the view stayed the same. My youngest son running and laughing hysterically without a stitch of clothing on from the waist down. In hot pursuit was my oldest son, also hysterically laughing. I could hear some of the nearby tables kind of laughing and whispering and for some reason that made me really mad. Not at them, but at my kids.
Why couldn’t we be just a normal family? Why can’t we just have a nice holiday weekend, get stuff done, and enjoy a lunch out without a crisis?
I grabbed my son and realized the reason he had taken all of his clothes off was because his diaper was wet and had leaked onto his shorts. He didn’t like it so he just took everything off and resumed play. To his credit, in his four year old mind he had solved the problem. Modesty is something he is just not aware of yet and we will definitely be working on it.
I handed him and his pile of wet clothes to my husband who made a quick escape to the car. I grabbed my other son who couldn’t understand why we were leaving when we had just gotten there. I mean, the kids hadn’t even eaten yet.
We went back to our table and I began to pack up the kids’ lunches and the partially eaten lunches of my husband and I. Add my purse to the mix and the fact that I have to hold my oldest’s hand in a parking lot for safety reasons, and it goes without saying that my hands were full. Beyond full. And the stack of stuff I was carrying was precarious at best.
He and I made it to the car to find my husband and younger son already there and belted in. The youngest is crying because he didn’t want to leave and he is sitting in his car seat naked because his mommy didn’t have any emergency clothes for him. Mommy fail, which made mommy even madder.
I started kind of tossing everything onto the front passenger seat starting with the kids’ meals in their bags, and setting down the drinks in the cupholders. When I went to put down the two cardboard chicken sandwich containers, mine being on top, it slid off and onto the ground where it promptly popped open and the sandwich landed inside out. I’m not afraid to admit that at this point if I had a swear jar it would have been making bank. I saved the other box though so at least it wasn’t a total loss.
What happened? asked my husband with that aforementioned look of cringey amusement on his face.
I dropped my sandwich. I said, in a not so pleasant voice. But the good news is that I saved yours.
I opened the box to show him and that was when we saw the box was empty. My husband had already finished his sandwich and just left the empty box on the table. In my haste and embarrassment to get out of there, I had just grabbed it without checking.
Clink, clink, clink. More money into the swear jar. Not my best moment, I told you.
I yelled at my husband, my kids, and made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we got home.
Later, I apologized. After thinking about everything I tried to get to the bottom of it all.
Why had I gotten so mad? Sure there had been a few annoying things to happen that day, but nothing that should have made me that upset. I realized it had been the other patrons kind of whispering about our family while their kids sat and ate quietly. It made me mad.
Why did we have to be different?
It’s not an easy question to ask. I do feel that hubby and I are matched for a reason and the same goes for our boys. They are ours. That is no accident. Is it always easy? *%&^$# no, it isn’t. My husband and I have talked about this in the past and he made a point that stuck with me.
We get to experience what it really means to be a parent. We have to work twice as hard for them to do half as much. They don’t just pick things up easily from the world around them. We are in the trenches, gritting our teeth, sighing, blinking back tears, and encouraging each other. We can do this because we have to. Because they are ours.
I’m writing all of this down to refer back to in the next heat-of-the-moment. I know there will be another. And another, and another. But, just think of all the great stories, we’ll have to tell?
Have a great week!