Ahhh, motherhood. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and that you can work through the challenging parts because you’ve toughened up or even lightened up, something ALWAYS goes awry to make life more of what I refer to as “excruciatingly exciting.” I have pondered this whole month about what my defining parenting moment has been, but have had a tough time pinning down just one. You see, I think every day we are faced with numerous defining moments or learning experiences. Some large, some small. Some lessons stay with you and some you forget because once you learn from them they become ingrained in your everyday parenting.
So I looked back at some of the more funny defining moments I have had as a parent and remembered the time I was four months into this whole “mother of two” business and feeling like I had this parenting thing down. My niece had invited me and the kids (a four year old and a four month old at the time) to her school event and I didn’t hesitate to promise her we’d be there, despite the fact it was an over an hour drive and I’d be doing it solo since hubby had to work late. I was really trying my best to break out of my comfort zone and get these kids out and about now that summer was upon us. After all, I had an easy-going, happy baby that was pretty portable so long as he was fed and dry. I get the baby in the car and skip feeding him before the trip thinking he would nap the whole time, pick up my daughter from school, and drive.
Defining moment #1: Always remember, NEVER leave the house for a long car ride with hungry children! Duh.
So it turns out heading to Northwest Connecticut from the Hartford area any time after 4 pm is not the greatest time to be on the road with two irritable kids. To my baby’s credit, it took 20 minutes for his fussing to become full blown screeching. Which in baby years is a pretty long time. And while I hated to do it, I knew it was time to pull over to the first parking lot on my right which luckily happened to be a high end furniture store. I frantically pull-over and try to soothe the baby who is all bleary-eyed from bawling, but manages to give me a heart melting smile nonetheless.
Defining moment #2: Baby smiles make everything better.
I change him and try to feed him, but he continues to screech. Then I made the biggest mistake of the day when I declare out loud “Mommy has to go potty” which set off a potty domino effect. My daughter is frantically shouting over the baby’s cries saying that she has to go potty too and then she joins in on the screeching. I tell her if I can wait, she can wait. We proceed to have a “pissing match” in the parking lot until I relent and get everybody out of the car and into the store where we were greeted by two very well-dressed and eager salesman. My response to “Can I help you with anything?” was an evasive, “No, we’re just looking, thanks.” I didn’t have the guts to ask for the bathroom. Luckily the children’s furniture display was to my left, so I pretended to be interested in the most gorgeous kids’ bedroom set and then shuddered at the $3000 price tag. Since I still had to go pretty bad, I reminded my daughter that now would be a great time to declare before everyone that she had to go potty. Thankfully the nice salesman heard her and pointed in the direction of the potty.
Defining moment #3: Use your children to get what you want.
One of my mom talents is that I can nurse my son while he’s in the stroller. I can even do it while the baby is the car seat while my husband is driving. This was a very defining moment and life changed dramatically for the better once I learned this trick. So anyways, I am feeding my baby while he’s strapped in the stroller out in the middle of the bathroom, while my daughter is doing her thing with the bathroom stall door wide open. And I am praying that no one walks in to witness this shit-show.
Defining moment #4: Moms can do awesome tricks.
We run out of the bathroom as fast as possible. The confused salesman began chasing after us to see if we had any questions. I lie and say we’ll be back with my husband on Saturday. I throw the kids in the car and never look back. Two hours and 45 minutes later, we arrive at our final destination. It should have only taken us one hour.
Defining moment #5: It’s ok to burn your bridges if you or your kids make a scene at various public places, especially chain stores, because you can just go to the one in the next town over.
Does this scenario sound at all familiar to you? It does for me, because my life is full of these shenanigans. Children make life complicated, but they also bring excitement, adventure and exhaustion. And I love it. I have given up an easy life where all I think about is myself in exchange for a life in which I am constantly helping these little creatures along life’s path, while always asking myself, how can I make their lives better? Every day is full of moments that make parenting so fun and painful at the same time.
So, while I have had some bigger moments that have helped shaped who I am as a mom, I think it’s the little obstacles I overcome every day that make me stronger, more resilient and help define me as a pretty good mom.