Sundays are usually reserved for relaxing and hanging out but this past Sunday I thought why not venture out for some family time and go to lunch. Desmond and I both will be celebrating birthdays next week and received a free burger from Red Robin’s. So being the savvy saver I am I figured we could both get a free burger (with fries I might add) and only need to buy something for Elle. Elle slept for about an hour but that’s not unusual because her naps range from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how sweet her dreams are that day. An hour seemed to be enough and she seemed fine. “Seemed” being the highlighted word of that previous sentence. We get to Red Robin’s and there is a wait so I take Elle to Barnes and Nobles to play in the kid area and she is running around laughing and playing. All seems right with the world. (Exhibit A the photo above) We go back and they immediately call our names. We sit down to enjoy this nice family (almost free) meal and little did I know that that would be the last family meal at a restaurant for a long time for The James Family. Elle was not having any of it. She was a handful. She did not want to sit in her booster seat, she struggled to get down and run, she screamed, she arched her back trying to slide out of her booster seat, she cried, and she on numerous occasions stuck her juicy chunky fingers all up in my burger scrapping of the mayo and replacing it with slobber. The whole time we are sitting there I’m thinking “Oh my gosh. Elle is being “That” Kid! She is totally being “That” Kid. I won’t say I was embarrassed but I won’t say I wasn’t embarrassed. All I could think is I know everyone is staring at me wondering what in the world is going on because I’ve been one of those people before. I kept looking at Elle like “girl… GIRL!” And she kept looking at me like “so… SO!”
Once we left I was reliving the failed lunch in my mind thinking about everything that happened. And then I realized I was being too hard on myself. Which I and I’m sure other mothers do all the time.
For one – Elle is only one. She definitely knows what no means and she knows when she is doing something wrong but what she doesn’t know is how to express her emotions all the time. When she is hungry she will say “eat eat” but when she gets too hungry she cries. When she is done eating she signs “all done” but when I’m moving to slow and she gets frustrated she cries. When she gets overtired she cries. When she gets impatient she cries. In other words I don’t think she was trying to be an unruly kid she doesn’t know how to let me know what she wants all the time and crying is how she expresses herself. Although we are getting there she is growing and learning everyday and I can’t rush her.
Two – I know I’m not the only one. I doubt I was the first parent in there with a toddler who obviously would rather be elsewhere. I have to remind myself that constantly. When I feel like I’m alone I need to remember all those who can before me. Like when I went to Target for the first time and was flustered trying to take my shopping cart into the bathroom with Elle and a nice women said “Let me help you I have five kids I know how it can be.” Or anyone who holds a door when they see me approaching with Elle in a stroller because they know the struggle of getting through a door sometimes. The people who just smile and laugh when Elle screams out in public at THE top of her lungs and say “been there done that.” Those people have no idea how one little sentence helps me to feel like I’m not alone but grouped with millions of others who have overcome parenthood.
And three – I’m by no means perfect and I don’t like to toot my own horn but I think I’m doing a bomb job at motherhood. Yes Elle acts out in public sometimes but before we get into public I fed her, dressed her, chased her around to put her hair in two puffs, chased her around again to put her shoes on, got myself dressed, packed her diaper bag, brushed my teeth, brushed her teeth, fed my cat, gathered everything to leave, only to put it down because Elle pooped even though I just changed her diaper so it could be fresh when we went out, got out the door and locked it then realized I left something inside and all this just to leave the house for an hour.
I said all that above to say shit happens. And as parents a lot of times I think we beat ourselves up for small things when there are bigger things we should be applauding ourselves for. And to say Thank You to those people who secretly help in making a frustrating, embarrassing, or difficult situation better just by reassuring you that you’re not the first or last person to experience the “joys” of parenthood.