I am *THAT* mother

Oh, boy. Confession time.

I went to an ex-students wedding on Saturday. Husband had to jet right after the ceremony to get to work…so I was left alone with Princess and Tank. Usually…and I now emphasize the word Usually as if it’s the most important word in the English language…Usually the kids are great. They’re not perfect angels, but they have manners. They’re well-behaved. They’re respectful and listen when I tell them to do something.

I prepared for the wedding as a “good mother” should. I brought cars, crayons, pads of paper, tic-tac-toe sheets, barbies, Nintendo DS and three games, Cheez-Its and Popcorn. Enough to keep the kids busy through Armageddon. Seriously.

They. Were. Not. Having. It.

The wedding went off without a hitch. Tank started to get squirmy so I took him outside. No biggie, right?

Within five minutes of the reception starting, things started to break down. Tank didn’t want any of the toys. He kept saying he was hungry…but not for the snacks I brought. He was beyond irritable. (Might’ve had something to do with him getting four shots two days prior…) He had an “accident”, spilled drinks all over the beautifully arranged table, played tag with a kid from the table over and proceeded to “tag” him in the back with a fork.

Oh, but it gets worse. Any time I tried to talk to him, to get him to calm down and stop running all over the joint like a madman, he screamed bloody murder and pulled away from me. Not normal for the boy who gets dejected when I discipline him by simply tell him “no” at home. Any of you out there who know Tank, know he is Mr. Mellow-Yellow. He’s quiet. Shy. Apparently not this night.

It gets worse. You see, I know my kid is acting up. I know he’s being a pain. I don’t need to be told by someone else.

A woman the next table over (with two boys my kids’ age who were acting like total angels) leaned over to me and said, “I brought toys for my kids. If you want, your son can play with some of these.” She handed me a plastic frog. Tank screamed. I said, “Oh no thanks. You see, I brought toys…and food. He’s just having a bad day or something. This isn’t normal and I’m not sure what’s going on with him.” She looked at me like I sprouted six heads. Like it was an excuse I’ve given a thousand times at a thousand different weddings.

I realized…I am THAT mother. The one with the child running rampant around a beautiful reception. Never in a million years would I have thought that to be me. I would have sat Tank in the car on a gazillion second time-out…but I couldn’t leave Princess alone in the hall. (I gave him three timeouts in the hall of the bathroom, though, where his scream echoed so loud I’m still deaf in one ear.) I would have left the reception completely…but I already told Princess we could stay for the beautiful Princess cake. She was so excited.

When I told her we had to leave because her brother was throwing a conniption-fit, she threw a conniption-fit like only a six year old girl knows how. Water works started. The bottom lip popped out. Her feet dragged the floor. She pleaded her case with everyone she saw on the way out. I was the evil step-mother tearing her away from the ball.

Oh, boy.

Picture this: I’m dragging a screaming three year old with one arm and holding the hand of a wailing six year old drama queen in the other who “Swears she’d be good enough for cake if I just let her stay!”

After they were buckled into the car and the crescendo escalated in the cab, I slouched against the side of the truck and took a deep breath.

I am that mother.

I was never going to be this mother.

The world has officially flipped on its head.

Then I came to the conclusion that all those other mothers might’ve been having a bad day too. Their kids might not be hellions every day. They might’ve just gotten shots. The mother might’ve been holding the fort all her own with no one to lend a helping hand. The kids might’ve been sleep-deprived. Hungry. Fussy.

I was so judgmental.

I apologize to all the mothers I’ve judged through the years for unruly children. I feel your pain. We all try our best…sometimes though, the worst days shadow our best efforts. We end up looking and feeling like failures in the process, but we have to remember: It’s a single day. One day.

And tomorrow’s a new one.

Today I’m going to take this lesson on perspective and apply it to my work-in-progress. So much hinges on whose perspective a scene is written. The scene at the wedding would have been completely different had it been from the bride’s perspective. Or from the woman offering up her son’s frog. Or from Tank.

Times like these help me remember that a scene needs to be written from the person who has the most to lose. That night, it was me. I lost my sanity. I’m only now getting it back one behaved child moment at a time.

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11 comments on “I am *THAT* mother

  1. Oh dear!! *wiping eyes, trying not to laugh and failing* I've been THAT mother many times myself, in fact. I would have been the mother at another table chasing her own kids and not noticing that yours were acting up too. At least they grow up eventually.

  2. Kids have good days and bad days, just like the rest of us. It's not worth it to compare your children to someone else's. Good never comes from that. Just take it one day at a time, that's what I do and I still have my sanity (at least I think I do, lol)

  3. Jolie says:

    So true, so true. We've all been there a time or two and those other mothers are probably saying to themselves, "Thank God my kids are behaving today and not like they did at the last wedding!" I've got it a bit worse though – I am the stepmommy. I get the dirty looks from some of my man's family when I tell them they can't give our kids ANOTHER soda today or MORE candy or go swimming when it's 50 degrees and windy outside. Then I get judged by their mom when we do the kid exchange – you can see it in her face, "Oh, look, she tried to do MY daughter's hair today" or "Why do they both look wiped out and still have food on their face from dinner?" It's great. Just great.

  4. Lisa says:

    Oh yeah … been there, done that. I feel your pain. You haveit right, though, in thinking you're not alone. And I guarantee that other mom who handed you a toy and scrutinized you is wresting with her own tantrum throwing child right now. No kid is beyond that behavior. Sorry you had a rough day, chica. Hugs to you!

  5. Christauna–Glad to hear I'm not the only one. Mothers Unite! ;)Nicole–One day at a time is a great motto to live by I think. I feel a little like Dory: "Just keep parenting. Just keep parenting."Jolie–I bet the step-mother gig comes with stigma and pressure all its own. When will people get it through their heads–parenting is parenting. The more people children have in their lives who love them, the better they'll be for it.

  6. MT says:

    It takes a lot of guts to apologize. Way to go! And I'm sorry you had it so rough that night.Our kids are works in progress too, aren't they? πŸ™‚

  7. ju!ia says:

    I know exactly how you feel & I have thought the same thing "I'll never be THAT mother!" WRONG. My kids are sooo good behind closed doors, and then we go out into the watchful eye of the world. Sigh. I love that you mentioned maybe every other mom was just having one of THOSE days, maybe she is not THAT mother! It brings me hope for the thoughts that are crossing peoples minds when they see me in public with my boys.I'm always every grateful for those sweet hands on my shoulder and the soft voice of a woman next to me saying: "It's ok! My boys were the same way and they grew up to be the most wonderful men you could ever imagine! I made it through these same days and so will you, they are precious." Yes, there are those who pity me and then there are those who sympathize with me and make me feel "A O.K." !!!I love you & miss you lots Kristin!

  8. Lisa–Wish you were there with me to snark at that lady's sourpuss face! LOL!MT–Thanks for the encouraging words. You guys are making me feel so much better. :)Julia–Your boys are too precious. You said they are great behind closed doors…but I've seen them and out about and they're great everywhere. I think we should cut ourselves some slack, don't you think? Next time I'm in your neck of the woods I'll give you a call and we should go out. πŸ™‚

  9. Of course you are *that* mother. At different times, and different places we all are.And it is okay to be judgemental before you have been through it, because you always think you know better. But I could have hit that sourpuss mother who offered a toy to your son- does she seriously think you did not get any for yours? That you are mad enough to do that?The next wedding will be better, and even if it is not, you will laugh about it after it is over.

  10. Aubree says:

    i am definitely going to think of mothers with screaming kids in line at my register differently now! haha. also, there is a shout out to you in my second most recent blog post! wooh!

  11. Brad Jaeger says:

    Ahhh fork tag, how I miss you.

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