I originally wrote this and read it as part of the Listen To Your Mother show in Baton Rouge last spring. And then I forgot to post it here. But now I remembered, so here it is.
Let’s Just Keep it Real.
I never spent much time before I was a mama thinking about the type of mother I’d like to be one day. I’m sure many women do, but honestly, I was a kid myself and caught myself a tad off guard. I was more concerned with the basic goal of keeping the baby alive than anything else for a long time.
But now that I’ve been a mama for over 10 years, I spend a lot of time thinking about the type of mama I want to be, now and in the years ahead. And it’s not just about who I want to be for my kids, but also other moms as well. And I have decided that I’m a hot mess and it’s ok, because honestly, motherhood is a mess, both literally and figuratively, and I am just going to keep it real.
And in my drive to keep it real, I’ve shared some rather, well, we’ll just call them “the not so flattering parts of motherhood that are often not at all funny at the time but are hysterical when you look back at them” moments.
One such moment that, for reasons unknown I am choosing to share right now, is what I fondly refer to as “the Hancock Fabric incident”.
Anyone who is a mother has been there…one of those times when you absolutely KNOW you should call it a day because you just know you’re about to be pushing the limits of your child’s patience with life in general, and yet, because you just need to get ONE MORE THING done, you push your luck.
I’d already taken him to Target, which we had to leave in a rush to head to the dentist because as I bent over to grab something off a shelf, one of my temporary crowns fell off my tooth and right onto the floor of Target.
“Is that…is that your tooth?”
So we went to the dentist, which is just a ton of fun itself for everyone. And then I decided to push my luck on this particular afternoon by taking my then 3 year old (I’m telling myself he was still 3, because 4 sounds like he definitely should have been too big to pull a stunt like this) to Hancock Fabric.
Hancock Fabric is absolutely not at the top of any preschooler’s wish list of things to do.
I am not a Hancock regular, so it took me too long to find what we needed, and I was REALLY pushing my luck. By the time we made it to the checkout line to wait behind several other guests, including a person at the register attempting to execute a return, an exchange, and then a purchase with multiple coupons, AND WRITING A CHECK, my son was completely over his entire day.
Commence meltdown. You know when you can just see it coming? I knew it was coming. He was starting to whine. He was asking how much longer. And the groans became more desperate.
And then, out of nowhere, my child SHOUTS, and I do mean he shouts, “I AM BEGINNING TO POOP.”
What small child says something like that? Not “I need to poop”, not “I’m going to poop”, but “I am beginning to poop.” Who says that? I’m struggling at this point because my mind wants to question the word choice and clearly, the more urgent issue here is the child is apparently beginning to poop. In the checkout line. Behind grandmothers. And that woman at the front is still trying to execute her entire check writing experience.
I’m scanning around looking for a bathroom sign when I hear splashing…because my dear son is now urinating on the floor of Hancock Fabric. He’s now standing in a puddle. Bless the grandmothers in line with me that day for giving me the “been there, done that” face as they waved me in front of them, and not the “what kind of heathen urinates on himself in a store?” face.
I’m trying to get my items onto the counter, while simultaneously trying to explain to the cashier that we need some paper towels for a clean up, and I realize my son is now taking off his shoes.
“I CANNOT WEAR PEE SHOES.”
“You cannot take those shoes off! We’ll get you cleaned up in the car.”
“I CANNOT WEAR PEE SHOES!”
Naturally, the cashier is the slowest human on the face of the earth. And the grandmas are trying to stifle their laughter at the situation that has unfolded in front of them, but honestly, they were doing a terrible job. But the entire time this was unraveling, they kept reassuring me “you’re getting close to dinner time. Which means it’s getting closer to bedtime. You’re almost there. Day’s almost done.”
But they lost their composure when my child began to take off his pants. Because, you know, “I CANNOT DEAL WITH PEE PANTS.”
So there I am, attempting to swipe my card and pay and GET. OUT. and I look at my son, who is scrunching up his face uncomfortably and I say, in my best mom voice, “You WILL. NOT. poop your pants right here, sir. You WILL NOT.”
And he looks up at me, and his face starts to unscrunch, and he says “Well, I’m not. I’m actually just trying really hard not to laugh right now.”
We all lost it. Because that’s it, isn’t it? There are some moments of this absurd ride of motherhood that are just too ridiculous to take seriously. Sometimes you just have to completely fail at everything, and laugh. And without those grandmas in that line with me, reassuring me that it was okay, I don’t know if I would have had the strength to just…laugh.
That’s who I want to be. The one that keeps it real. The one who can pat another mama on the back and say “Your day is almost done.” A mama who you can trust something just as ridiculous or embarrassing has happened to, and she’ll tell you about it. Someone that will pat you on the back in life in the most absurd moment and who will reassure you that “bedtime” is a perfectly fine thing to strive towards some days. Because sometimes, just surviving together is a feat in itself…and that’s okay.