Saturday, November 2, 2013

when being a good mother means making a fool of myself in public


I thought that marrying a nerd would ensure that I didn't have huge technology fails.

Well, I was wrong.

I know I was wrong because on Friday evening we found ourselves driving 40 minutes away with my jacked-up phone in tow.  H had skipped his second nap that day, but finally fell asleep when we were pulling into the shopping center.  And then he woke up as soon as we parked the car.  Of course.

We made our way into the store only to learn that a new device had been released that very day so they were extremely limited on technicians.  Of course.  And I had completely forgotten that you can book appointments online instead of standing in line.  Of course.  See a trend here?

Thankfully my gracious husband decided to make the best of it.  He should, after all, considering his nerd skills had failed me!  We found a Mexican restaurant next door and soon settled in with a quesadilla, a burrito and a plain tortilla for Baby.  We only had an hour to wait until our scheduled appointment to fix my phone.  Our bellies full and our hearts happy, we watched as a storm swelled outside and enjoyed being warm and dry on the wet, cold, windy night.  Hadden had fun standing in our booth and screeching at other customers.  He was so perfectly a toddler that night.  Busy, yet captivated by the simplest things, like the nearby ice machine that rumbled as customers filled their cups.

Our hour was over and we made our way back to the store.  10 minutes past our appointment time in a busy shop was not boding well with our usually-happy son.  There were so many shiny things and he wanted to touch them all!  My husband and I did a quick back-and-forth about what we should do and ended up agreeing that I should take him outside since there was no telling how long it would be.

Pushing open the huge, heavy glass door, I saw that the rain had stopped, leaving puddles to dodge and a damp, cool breeze.  The shopping area had wide sidewalks and piped in music.  We had adjusted Hadden's stroller seat so that he was facing me as I pushed - I love it that way.  Love seeing his little eyes dart from one thing to the next and being able to talk to him.

Soon, however, Hadden was getting fussy.  It had been a long day, after all, and he was ready to be done in his stroller.

"Shwoooooop"

I suddenly swerved the stroller to the left, making an airplane noise to accompany it.  Then I dodged back to the right again.

His eyes lit up and a smile quickly followed.  I knew that I had his attention and that we'd gone from simply wasting time to having fun.

"Errrrgh."

The stroller came to a sudden halt and then jerked back to a start a moment later.  Hadden laughed uproariously.

All around the shopping area I was swerving and shifting and stopping.  And my son could not stop giggling.  He knew I was being silly and he was loving it.  I tried a few times, to stop in a store and look around, but he soon made it be known that he was tired of shopping.  There are times when he needs to learn to be content with what we are doing.  But I knew this was different.  This was a time when we'd already asked a lot of him and he had been patient for over an hour already.

The shopping center wasn't very busy, so we weren't in other people's way.  But I did get self-conscious a few times as people walked by us.  Man, I'd give anything to be browsing the racks at The Loft right now, but instead I'm doing a ridiculous dance routine with a hefty stroller and a chortling one-year-old.

I think and then over-think my parenting.  I spent a long while thinking through the pros and cons of whether or not my child should own things with characters on them.  I have an arsenal of books, articles and blog posts stored up that deal with protecting your child from abuse and teaching them basic consent about their bodies.  I make sure he is surrounded by books and nature and loving people and sturdy, intentional, well-made toys.  I have Strong Feelings about almost everything in regards to parenting.

All of that boils down to: I really, really, really want to be a good mom.

But pushing my son around that shopping center and hearing his belly laughs as I jerked his stroller back and forth made me think.  I still think of those things are important.  I still want to study and learn and practice to be a better parent.

But sometimes being a good mother is letting go of my self-image.  It is climbing the playground and racing down the slide.  It is getting on all fours and growling like mad as my giggling son hides behind the couch.  And it is making a fool of myself at a shopping outlet to bring a smile to his sweet face.

My son will be grown up one day and I'm sure he'll have a list a mile long of what I did wrong.  Maybe he'll see and appreciate my intentional actions and recognize that I was doing the best I could for him.  Even if he appreciates it, I don't think it will be a memory.

Sometimes being a good mom means letting go of all of my good intentions and ideas to simply be.  To be present.  To be silly.  To be myself.  To let my son see that, in addition to wanting to do well at raising him, I enjoy him!

While all the intentional parts of parenting are important, I'm thinking that the best gift we can give our child is our delight in their personhood.

Hadden was laughing in joy last night, but he wasn't the only one.  I was giggling along with him.  We made a memory that night, which I won't soon forget.

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