Let’s just face it. As parents, we fail. We fail, and fail, and fail. We succeed, too, but sometimes our triumphs are marred by all these other mistakes we make. I’m not talking about like… Your kid going to Harvard vs going to prison kind of triumphs and pitfalls. I’m talking about all this day to day nonsense that just keeps coming, like an endless, angry train, threatening to collide straight into any sense of normalcy you might’ve once had.
To make you feel better, I’ve decided to share what will certainly be the downfall of my sanity. So, without further ado, my most upsetting mistakes as a parent:
- Handing my one year old a muffin. This may seem innocent enough, but the repercussions of this mistake will be felt for years to come. When we move, many moons from now, this mistake will be felt in the stares of volunteers/loved ones, come to uproot our old life with us. They’ll stare because it will be found in our couch, in the corners of every room, and smeared somewhere that shouldn’t have been accessible to her, at a mere 30 inches tall. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have cleaned many times since this incident, but it won’t matter. The joy of moving will have been ruined in one fell swoop. A crumby (get it?) end to an era.
- “We probably won’t need it”. This is one mistake I make over and over and over again. You see, I’m an overpacker. And my tendency to bring everything but the kitchen sink with me means I’m also habitually ditching said stuff to be left in the car because it’s just too much to deal with. This backfires on me exactly 100% of the time. Because I do this, roughly 85% of our outings end in me losing my patience & us leaving before we should. Or end with me covered in poop. Either way, I don’t know why I keep making my own life so hellish.
- Having a late dinner. Why, why, why? Why anyone thinks this is a good idea with children is beyond me. It starts so seemlessly. Engrossed in something else, the children will be little angels. For a time. Inevitably, when we decide it’s time to eat, our children will commence in what is likely similar to summoning demons. “Witching hour” does not do justice to the chaos & disaster that unfolds the moment a pan hits the stove. For the remainder of our cooking and eating experience, our house becomes a free-for-all, where my children turn into miniature versions of Mike Tyson circa 1997, complete with ear-biting. It’s like their one mission in life is to see if they can break their parents before they’re served what is clearly prison mush in their eyes. It will be an utter failure, and everyone will eat canned soup.
- Taking children to my doctor’s appointment. The last time I made this mistake, I took both of my children, then 9 months (R) and 2.75 years (L), to the eye doctor with me to get contacts. Frankly, the memory has me cringing. When L wasn’t slamming into the eye checker machine thing (we’ll pretend that’s what it’s called), R was screaming. Aggressively. L became convinced that the doctor was attempting to murder me, via eyeball. R started throwing things. And in a spectacular ending to the hour that went on for years, L decided that she needed to pee, and without any sort of warning, dropped trou in the middle of the office, for everyone to see, while I only had one contact in my eye. Neat. By the time we left, I was certain I was 2 minutes from a breakdown.
The list of mistakes is long, but I have to say, these are my most painful. They may seem small, but I will carry the sorrow and regret from these experiences with me until I die.
I don’t do it often, but on occasional I become so delusional that I believe I can manage grocery shopping with 2 small kids. Grocery shopping with my little heathens is clearly well outside the scope of my parenting abilities. It’s been proven to me every time I attempt it. And for some stupid reason, I keep coming back for more.
My grocery shopping experience has 4 stages:
- Over-confidence: As we pull up to the store, children smiling, sippy cups in hand, Starbucks in tow, I’m feeling pretty good. This is usually the point where I’m telling myself a number of lies, centered around the fact that past failures were just a fluke. We’re going to be just fine today. -Insert eye roll so heavy I can see my brain- As we enter the store with my list in hand, cart chock-full of small people, and hair quickly reaching homeless-level dishevelment just from the sheer effort of wrestling both kids from a car seat and into a cart, I begin seeing my flaw. This is where step two comes in.
- Errors have been made: My toddler is tearing up all the things I put in the cart, or handing them up to her baby sister to gnaw violently on, while she lets out her first of many war cries. I soon realize this is not going to work, and that said toddler will need to walk. Remember, it will be FINE. Let’s get her on the floor. “No, wait, don’t slam that man’s cart into his own shin! Please don’t run to the next aisle! Put that back on the shelf! That’s not ours, hand that back to the woman you stole it from, please! Don’t eat that off the floor! Don’t lick the floor, either! You have to go potty again?!” Why didn’t I bring a carrier? Why didn’t I foresee this? How many mistakes must I make? Why does the baby cry at the worst possible time? Great, she pooped her pants.
- F*!k this: This is about the time that I start making statements like “If you can’t be nice, we can’t get your chocolate almond milk” or “Fine, then we’re putting it all back and leaving with nothing”. This is literally the most stupid thing I’ve ever said, because anyone who knows me (my own kids included) knows I refuse to leave that store until everything I need is in my cart. I’m just not capable of walking away from work I’ve already done. So they call my bluff. Again and again and again. And I make weak threats that no one gives two sh!ts about. And then I rage-weep, and I walk through the aisles, corralling my monsters and ignoring hateful stares while L piles unnecessary crap into the cart, that I’ll eventually need to re-route to return to it’s home.
- I’m never, ever doing this again: When we get to the cart, no less than 5 hours from the time we arrived, looking broken, feeling pretty butthurt/murderous, I vow, THIS will be the end. THIS was the last straw. THIS is the lesson I needed. Now I just need to get us home in a route that bypasses anything that MIGHT sell chicken nuggets. As I do so, I convince myself that no matter how hungry we are, it can wait the 8 hours of my husband’s work shift. This IS the last time.
I’m not a particularly stupid person, so I rarely take my kids to the store with me if I can avoid it. But I might be a little crazy, because I keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. I’m at the point where I’m unsure if I’ll ever be able to take them into public places before they reach adulthood. It seems unlikely.
I’ve heard it before, and every time it’s been said to me, I laugh hysterically in my head at it, that if you just keep taking them out, they eventually learn to behave in public. Based on my experiences, my children level up in ridiculousness each time we pull into a Kroger parking lot. So, to those of you who look like hot messes in the grocery store… Solidarity. It’s all I have to offer. And those of you who pretend to have your crap together, please don’t judge the rest of us when we look like fools. Best wishes to my fellow parents trying not to fall apart in a Giant Eagle.
I have a confession to make: I have a great many secrets. Secrets that keep this household from falling apart & keep me from a padded room in an asylum. Secrets that – if my toddler learned – would be devastating to our lifestyle.
You see… I’m guilty of hiding candy. All over the house. Not because the Easter Bunny just came & we forgot all about it or because I need a quick bribe handy. Because candy is my way to silently stick it to my kids when they’re being gremlins. “HAHA! I have candy & you’re too busy punching the refrigerator to notice!”
I also spend a lot of time in the bathroom. You might think I have an overactive digestive tract if you visited our house during the day, when the toddler is going straight insane. But really, I need a place where someone isn’t in my lap, or pulling my hair, or nudging me because they just can’t get comfortable until they’ve broken at least 6 of my ribs. I need a place where my news feed is actually scrolled by ME. With no fingers “liking” all sorts of random things or scrolling all the way to the top when I’m in the middle of an interesting read halfway down my feed. The bathroom is like my sanctuary. It’s my happy place.
I’ve also become amazing at hiding the fact that I have food in my mouth. And even talking as if I don’t have food in my mouth (when L inevitably has 762 questions as soon as I stuff my face). Because there are so many things in my kitchen that my toddler’s finicky palate just doesn’t appreciate in the way I can. I can love you better than she can, donut. Baby, I can love you better.
You see, these secrets are the key to me continuing to stay just a hair above sanity. They give me an out, when toddler hands and baby cries are my whole day. They give me a bit of solace on bad days & add to the vibe on the good ones. If I didn’t have secrets, I can assure you, I would be a wreck. No one person can continue the chaos that is staying home with children without having something all of their own, and with my children’s “what’s yours is mine” attitude, it’s better for everyone if these things stay hidden. If you don’t have some sort of system or happy place established, you’re seriously missing out! And clearly a superhuman.
When kids enter our lives, we give up a lot. This is just my way of grasping at the straws of my previous humanity. It’s still in there somewhere, I think. Maybe. But if the toddler becomes aware of these… all bets are off. So for now, I’ll just be munching on a pop-tart from the kitchen sink while keeping an ear out for toddler/elephant footsteps coming my way.
Got any better ideas? Didn’t think so.