I could regale you with tales of how my self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder is making me grumpy and manic all at once.
Or how the polar vortex has kept me from training for the half marathon that is approaching in less than 60 day.
Or even better yet, how I have shoddily tried to sleep-train my 16 month old over the last few days. She cries, works herself up, barfs all over her stuffed animals, looks at me with her hazel tear-stained eyes, I cave and put her in the Ergo carrier and she sleeps contentedly while I make dinner. Or I just stand upright with her strapped to my chest and putter around the house, pretending to be some sort of domestic goddess. And yes, I have even peed with her strapped to me…it wasn’t pretty but the alternative was more grim.
I got to thinking about all the wonderful things we do as parents for our children. And then I got to thinking of all the stupid things we do sometimes. Things we do that make us feel like rock stars and you say to yourself, “damn, girl…I just nailed it..parent of the year.” Then there are the things that make us thwack ourselves on the forehead and say, “what the hell was I thinking?!” What is the most valiant thing you ever did for your children? What the worst thing you ever did?
I’ll go first.
When Henry was in preschool we lived in the heart of downtown Chicago. My husband and I shared the duties of drop-off and pick-up. Since I drove to work (I worked on the South Side of Chicago) I would usually pick him up on my way home from work. I’d double park, blinkers on, dash into the school, get the daily report from his teachers and whisk him out before the police arrived to give me a ticket. One evening, after getting an actual coveted curb-side parking spot I noticed a creepy guy on the street outside of the school. City living makes you a “hard” person…so creepy people didn’t really concern me. Either by keeping my head down or looking them straight in the eye with the “I dare you to say something to me” look usually kept most folks at bay. This time was different.
As I was opening my car, toddler in my arms, the man started walking towards me. I knew he was coming for me. I quickly put Henry in his car seat, and turned to face the man, my entire body covering the entrance to the door. He was drunk, deranged, whatever…clearly not in the right frame of mind. I told him to leave us alone and I stood my ground. What they say about a mother bear getting pissed when a person messes with their cubs is true. For the first time in my life I felt like an animal. There was no way in hell that man was going to touch my child or me. After a pretty heated moment and yelling at him, a few other folks came out and scared him away. I was lucky. I probably could have gotten stabbed or beaten or even worse. Unfortunately for the way it happened I could not have avoided a confrontation with him. I buckled Henry into his car seat, too young to know what I had done for him, and went home to make dinner after a long day of work. Valiant? Perhaps.
And speaking of avoiding confrontation, last year I pulled a dumb**s move that was one of the stupidest parenting moves of my life.
While driving with my two kiddos in the car I had stopped at a red light. I could have made a right on red, but didn’t want to because a.) the traffic was approaching too quickly and b.) I had two kids in the car, one of whom was a newborn, and whose head would have probably fallen off from whiplash if I drove too fast (or so I was convinced). So I waited. The woman behind me, in a dark blue Volvo station wagon started honking her horn at me. It startled me so much that I instinctively stepped on the gas and before I knew it almost hit another car. She kept honking at me, bullying me with her horn. I looked at her from the review mirror. “Mommy, who is honking at us?” my 4 year-old asked innocently.
That was it. I put the car in park, opened my car door…AND GOT OUT OF THE CAR! I started walking towards her car. The look on her face. The look on her face of absolute fear and horror (OF ME!) was enough to make me turn around and get back in my car. I figured I had made enough of an impression that honking at me wasn’t going to work. I finally made the right turn and then proceeded to yet another red light. She pulled her car up next to mine, I looked over at her thru my window. She ignored me like I wasn’t there. So I honked my horn, rolled down my window gesticulating that she should probably do the same. She sheepishly rolled down her window and looked over. “WHY ARE YOU HONKING AT ME? I HAVE TWO BABIES IN MY CAR, EXCUSE ME IF I DRIVE A LITTLE CAREFULLY!” I shouted. She yelled a few half hearted responses back to me until I maniacally laughed at her for being such a bully and drove off.
All of this happened….on Shelburne Road. In broad day light. Right down the street from my husband’s place of employment. Can you imagine if one of his coworkers had seen me? “Uhh, Karl, I saw your wife go bat s**t crazy on a lady in blue Volvo on Shelburne Road. Is she feeling okay?” All of this happened with my two children in the backseat, one who was watching the entire thing go down. To this day my son remembers this incident. He says, “hey Mommy, remember the time you yelled at the lady in the car?” We talked about how my actions were not acceptable and how I should have made a better choice. How could my efforts to protect my children put them in so much danger? What if blue Volvo lady had a gun? I assessed that she probably didn’t before I got out of my car, but who knows…perhaps she is a gun toting liberal. Do those even exist?!
Both of these decisions were efforts to protect my children. Efforts of valiance and bad judgment all in one. Some mistakes we learn from and more importantly, we hope that our children forgive us. Some (me) might argue that these mistakes have made me a better parent.
[…] and some are big and this, this was a small one. You hold him close and remind the both of you that Moms make mistakes too. He looks up at you his eyes now dried and asks if he can go back to his […]
Heather, what an exciting read. IMHO this is your absolute best written post to date!!!!
Made my day! Not sure if I love the pictures or the content more !! either way thank you for sharing we have all had our moments… !!
OMG what a fantastic read!! You did EXACTLY what I wish I had the guts to do when it comes to traffic bullies!!! I appreciate candor…what a fun and exciting read!