My boys are excited when I announce that we will be meeting friends at the "carousel" park. We had gone to the park the week before for the first time. The boys had been excited to go on the carousel, but it wasn't open.
Getting ready to leave for the park, a half hour drive for us, makes me feel like I am on one of those crazy obstacle course game shows. I dodge the million questions that my sons are hurling at me while I pack snacks and try to remember where the water bottles are. I risk actually taking time to pee instead of holding it for the next 4 hours, while ignoring the knocks at the door and the voice saying, "Mom, hey mom, where are my shoes, Mom?" when I know they are on his feet. I leap over the toys on the floor as I grab the sunscreen from the kitchen counter. Finally, we are out the door, 10 minutes behind schedule.
Everyone is buckled in their seats, snacks have been distributed and the music selected. At last, a moment of peace as we head onto the highway for our destination. I reach for the directions I had printed out (yes, I am the only person on Earth who still does not have a GPS) and they are not there. "Boys, are the directions in the snack bag?"
"No," comes the answer in unison.
"Oh, great," pipes up the little one, "She forgot the directions. She always forgets something."
I want to correct him but he is right. Maybe, it is motherhood or middle-age. Maybe, it is the lack of sleep or the constant chaos that is my life. Whatever it is, I forget things. A lot.
"Oh, no," squeaks the big one in his worried voice. "Are we going to be lost forever?" Because, of course, every time we go somewhere, I get us lost. Forever.
"No, it just means we'll be even later than we already are," adds the little one, helpfully.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," I say. I reassure the boys that even though I forgot to bring the directions, I know how to get there.
"Sure," the little one whispers to the big one, "She can't remember the directions but she thinks she can remember how to get there." I think about responding, but bite my tongue instead. I drive on.
So far, so good. Everything looks familiar. I am feeling pretty proud of myself doing this well without directions. I take the exit for the street I am certain (okay, pretty sure, I think) that the park is located on. As soon as I get off the exit, I realize this is not the right place but I don't let on to the boys.
"I don't recognize this place," the big one offers. Damn.
"Are you sure that was the right exit?" asks the little one. I reply that it is. I am going to make this work. We find the street I am looking for. Success. Or, maybe not. One end of the street brings us to a dead-end, the other into another town -- neither is a place we want to be.
I get back on the highway and take the next exit. I can feel that we are almost there. Then comes the fork in the road and no signs for the road I am looking for. The boys start complaining in the back seat.
"We are never going to get there," predicts the big one. "We're lost forever in this stupid place."
"Don't call it a stupid place."
"You just called it a hell hole," comments my little one. "Isn't stupid better?"
At last, I find the street where the park is located. Immediately, everything looks familiar and we all know it. You can feel the tension break in the car.
"How late are we now," asks the little one. I think about not answering that question but I know it will only be asked again.
"About 40 minutes."
"40 minutes!" the big one shrieks. "By the time we get there, they will be leaving."
"And you can forget the carousel," my little one adds.
Gosh, why is it that I am the only person in this family who is never allowed to make mistakes? We all make mistakes. "Don't worry you will have time to play with your friends and go on the carousel," I say, exasperated.
"You're right, Mom," the little one says, "We do all make mistakes and you're allowed to make them, too." I hear the apology coming and I start to feel bad for snapping at them.
"In fact, Mom," the little one continues, "You make mistakes all the time."
“Yes, yes, I do,” I sigh. But it doesn’t stop me from trying anyway.
Oh, and other than a little nausea, the carousel was lots of fun!
Parenting is full of both joyous and messy moments. There’s no perfect way to parent, which is why we’ve teamed up with Clorox to celebrate all of life’s little messes. Do you have a personal story about your kids that impacted your approach to parenting or helped you stop stressing the little things? Let us know your perfectly imperfect parenting tale at email@example.com.