This looks like an innocent picture of three kids out for ice cream.
Let me tell you what it really is…
This is a glimpse of how far I’ve come as a mother. This is the picture that I wish I could’ve sent myself back 8 years ago when my first child was born.
This is a picture of ice cream for dinner on a Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
And two of the kids are in the same clothes that they woke up in that morning. (AKA pajamas.)
Those are two scoop cones. (Well, except for the big kid. She said she didn’t need that much sugar. She’s 8…and I question whether she’s really mine with that statement, but whatever.)
Two scoop cones WITH SPRINKLES.
And we ate them outside cause the littlest kid wanted to. Even though it’s August in Charleston and they melted within two minutes.
And then I was left with this.
This is intense, y’all.
And there was a time, not really that long ago, when this literally would have almost sent me into a panic attack. “Where are the wipes?!! Oh my gosh…is that gonna stain?! We have to stop on the way home for some spray n wash!! And you can’t sit in the car seat like that!!”
But not this time. You know what we did after this?
I’m not even kidding you when I say I took them through the McDonald’s drive-thru. And we had McDonald’s Happy Meals…..for DESSERT.
And because little man was covered head to toe in ice cream, he went straight to the bath when we got home…where I sat his chicken nuggets (or pieces of plastic or styrofoam or seriously harmful toxins, depending on which of the latest FB links you’ve read) on the side of the bathtub, and said, “Here’s your dinner. Holler if you need me.”
And he was okay with that.
And here’s the kicker…I. WAS. TOO.
Before my first child was born, I read books on child rearing. I had ideals about how this whole pregnancy thing was all gonna go down. And I was seriously intent on not taking medications or drinking caffeine or sleeping on my back or lifting anything that weighed more than 5 pounds.
I did all the “right” things. Including a non-epidural birth. Which left me emotionally traumatized, and I’m not even kidding.
I had nightmares for months after that experience. And I knew right away that I was NOT going to say no to the epidural for any future deliveries.
Little side note here: If you can rock that whole “no drugs during labor bit”, I am super pumped for you. Really. It just didn’t work for me, and I’m okay with that. (Even though I spent $250 and 12 weeks on a class that told me there was no reason that I couldn’t.)
And once I brought home that 6 pound 2 ounce bundle of joy, I was armed with an arsenal of personal rules about how I would raise her to be an exceptional individual. There were certain elements of control that I was going to make sure that I wielded over the raising of my own child…and I would not go down without a fight.
I didn’t watch TV while she was awake…because I didn’t want her to be over-stimulated or grow up with TV sucking the life out of her brains.
I read to her. Not like, “Goodnight Moon” or “The Poky Little Puppy”.
No, no. I read The Chronicles of Narnia. She needed to be exposed early to good literature.
You can all stop laughing now.
I spent YEARS trying to be that “perfect” mom. If she didn’t have a matching hairbow for her outfit on Sunday morning on the way to church, we left early enough for me to stop by Target and get one that did.
Bedtime was at THIS time…and no other. Everything was fresh food and “specially made for toddlers” and the amount of shoes that child had was RIDICULOUS.
Bath nights were not to be missed. Brushing teeth began as soon as she had more than two.
And look at where I am today. Cotton candy ice cream (with sprinkles…cause that’s how amaze-balls I am) for dinner. Plastic food from an over-priced establishment for “dessert”, a boy who sat in his own french fry laden bath water, and an eight year old who asked to watch TV till she fell asleep. And I said, “Yeah. That’s fine. Cause it’s Saturday night. So…have at it.”
I wish I could send a letter back in time to my younger mommy self (slight Brad Paisley reference here…if you pick up on it, we can be BFFs). I would tell myself to have more confidence.
Oh my word. MORE CONFIDENCE in all those ridiculous mommy-moments of self-doubt where I was all, “I’m so screwing this whole thing up. My kids are being wrecked by my ineptitude as a mother. Am I saving enough money for their bail one day?”
There are just some things in life that aren’t worth stressing over.
And matching hair bows and whether or not they watched 1/2 hour more of TV that the Grand Poobah’s of Judgmental Parenting say is best and whether or not they eat an occasional meal of ice cream for dinner isn’t going to send anyone to hell or land in anyone in prison.
Just my thought.
I do try and keep reasonable limits. I buy grapes and apples and carrots and we watch Discovery channel and do our homework and read books and take baths without a dinner tray propped on the tub.
BUT I just wish that someone had told me, back in the day of my formative years of mothering, that SOME times, SOME days, heck…SOME WEEKS, are just gonna be those, “You know what? Whatever.” types of times…and that is okay.
And there will be those who will shake their heads and silently weep for my poor children and the fact that I JUST DON’T CARE if they wear shoes on the playground or that my kids have SEVERAL Disney channel shows memorized and can recite them, word for word with voice inflection, from the opening theme to the ending credits.
We are a family that lives hard. (not like, dangerously hard…I mean, there ARE limits.)
But we are full speed with…EVERYTHING. (Unless it’s getting them dressed and out the door…then we become a herd of newborn kittens, blind and stumbling over each other and never making it quite to where we need to be without one on one guidance…but that’s another story…)
I only wish that I wouldn’t have stressed so much about the dumb stuff when it comes to parenting.
Because…here’s the thing...the majority of us really are kick-butt mamas.
And we are ROCKING this mommy-thing so much better than we think we are.
Even if there’s an occasional ice cream for dinner/chicken nuggets while you’re naked in the bathtub kind of night.