So. Much. To. Do. Respond to the phone calls, emails, and the ping of texts. Feed the cat. Pay the bill. Find the kid. Alright, I found him! Did I finish that one thing? What was it, again? Ugh. Why can’t I remember anything? I swear, I need to make a reminder for everything, including writing a reminder to myself. I’ve got a headache, and there’s no ibuprofen. Add it to the list.
Not a single person says that parenting is a breeze.
And no one ever prepares you for it. Not your mom, dad, friends, teachers, or freakishly wise parenting blogs. Not even Siri can tell you exactly how to be a “good parent.” Trust me. I asked.
If it’s one thing I’m learning along the way, it’s to be gentle with myself when I make mistakes. To accept my limits. To be enough. It’s my knee-jerk reaction to be my own worst enemy.
Take, for example, Halloween.
Ah, yes, the holiday where children’s candy-eating habits provide a dentist’s next mortgage payment. This particular event I took my son to was held at Miracles in Motion Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Swisher. It was a fun-filled event with a horse parade, crafts, candy, miniature ponies, more candy, and a bouncy house. Tons of things to do!
The bouncy house caught his attention right away. Parents weren’t allowed to join so I gently encouraged him to give it a try. His bright smile revealed his adorable dimple as the other children jumped around and laughed. He stood there cautiously curious. It took him fifteen minutes to inch his way three feet, and he never made it inside.
Every part of me wanted to swoop him up and set him down inside the playful primary bungalow. “Jump! Jump! Weeeee! You can do it! Woohoooooo!” I knew how fun it was. But to the mind of a three-year-old, this could be a colorfully deceptive kid trap.
Alright, well… time to press on. There’s a lot to do.
Horses wearing costumes – he’ll want to see that. Nope. He didn’t even notice them. But what he did notice were the drain pumps, dandelion seeds, creaky door hinge, landscaping bricks, and the tuft of fuzz on another kid’s costume. He kindly removed it.
He led the way and I followed. Hung along the fences were orange buckets filled with candy. Candy! We ran as fast as our legs could as if the bouncy house grew its own pair of legs and chased us. Candies in hand, we sat beneath the shade of a tree that felt like our very own.
When it was time to leave, he wanted one more piece of candy for the road. I said “No more. That’s enough.”
Spoiler alert: He cried. And I felt like the worst mom ever.
I picked him up, and carried him back to the car, walking past others in a walk of shame. That “Mom Walk of Shame” is brutal. Does everyone around me think I’m terrible? Did I ruin the day for him? Why didn’t I just let him have one last piece of candy?
As these questions of self-doubt flood my mind, I turn around to see that he’s 100% passed out in his car seat, like a toddler that had too much fun.
At that moment I realized that he had what he needed.
He didn’t need all the parades, crafts, candies, or bright and festive entertainment. He simply yearned for my attention and connection.
I look over the to-dos on my list.
Respond to that email. Check.
Work in a free moment to schedule that tire rotation. Check.
Pack a lunch while preparing breakfast. Check.
The last thing, and possibly the hardest to end each day with.
Was I enough?
And I’m grateful to cross that one off my list.
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