I am not perfect. I am not perfect. I am not perfect.
I AM NOT PERFECT.
I am a mom.
And sometimes… well, sometimes folks have you thinking you must be perfect.
That, my friends, is a lie. You do not have to be perfect. You can be angry, excited, tired, sad, happy, grumpy, energetic, lonely, on time, frustrated, on top of things, late, dirty, and so many other things. But perfect? No, that does not have to be part of what you are. And hey, that’s a good thing… especially since it’s impossible.
My son is two and a half and, wooooo boy… he can be a handful sometimes. But he’s supposed to be. Because he’s two and a half. He’s my handful. He’s my husband’s handful. We love our handful. We love all of him, not just his happy self and listening self. We love the screaming little banshee we have to drag through public. We love the crying fella who realized he can’t have candy. We love the pouty face of the kid who just realized he doesn’t feel well. We love all of him, not just the good parts.
Well… maybe these are good parts. Maybe I’m wrong to consider them anything else. These are the parts that give us patience and teach us how best to love him. These are the parts that wear on us and may embarrass us. These are the parts that make us cry and get so frustrated. These are also the parts that teach us how to handle things a better way next time. They teach us how to take a deep breath and smile, instead of huffing and rolling our eyes. And no, it will not always happen that way… but I hope it does more often than not. There are times where I am still frustrated and still annoyed at the circumstance, but there are also times where I’m able to take that deep breath and calmly correct the situation.
As a matter of fact, we had several instances like this all weekend. To preface a bit, our son, as I mentioned, is two and a half. He has grown in his independence more than ever in the last several months. Shame on me if I ever cut off a light when leaving the room without asking if he wants to do it first. You better believe I have to cut it back on, so he can cut it off. I closed the fridge? Oh, lordy… one of us has to open it so he can close it. Daddy put his shoes on when he chose ME for the task? Yup, those shoes are coming off and I’m the one putting them on. Independence is great. I love it. This new phase has also enabled him to leave me at playgroups or at church, so he can go and play with other children. He doesn’t always look to see where I am or to make sure I’m still in the room. He is having an absolute blast. He’s thriving. He’s transforming from baby to toddler to little fella and it’s amazing to watch.
I love taking Oliver out in public. Admittedly, I don’t do it as often these days now that I’m 6 months pregnant, but I like to take him out when I can. He loves riding in the car and he loves going to certain stores. Even more so… he loves buggies. It is to the point now where, while he loves riding in buggies at the store, he may suddenly change his mind once he sees one. Perhaps he wants to push it, or perhaps he wants to walk beside it, but he definitely wants us to have one. (Side note: more stores should have child-sized buggies. That would make life so much easier.)
I took him to Publix yesterday to pick up a few items. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot he knew it was buggy time. He excitedly asked for a buggy. We parked and started inside. Halfway from the car, he decided he wanted to sit in the middle of the walkway to play with his toy. As a child who is incredibly aware of street and car safety, I was surprised and slightly annoyed at this. It’s incredibly dangerous and not a habit I want him to form. When he wouldn’t get up on his own, I grabbed his toy and explained the dangers of playing in the road, even a parking lot, and that he would get his toy once we were safely inside. He was not pleased, but it happens. We got to the door and he broke away from my hand and ran inside. He ran in circles and squealed and screeched. He was so excited! To him, this is buggyville and also a store full of his favorite things! There were balloons and flowers to the right. He loves flowers and balloons! There were cookies and cakes and fruit! And people.
People who stared, people who raised their eyebrows, and luckily a friend who saw us and walked up laughing. After a quick hello while trying to catch O, we said goodbye and I continued trying to wrangle him in. I avoided the stares, even though I knew they were there. I didn’t look up at many people. I could feel the slight embarrassment. I was not embarrassed by his actions. He’s being two and a half. I was feeling embarrassed by the judgement I may or may not have been receiving. During one quick run past me, I grabbed his hand, he fell to the floor in a fit of giggles, and I swooped him up as best as my big belly would let me. We walked to the buggy area and I talked to him about the dangers of running away from Mama. I tried to get him into a buggy and he suddenly was not having it. We both were becoming frustrated and I reminded him that we did not have to go inside. That would could very easily go home and not have a buggy ride at all. It took some work, but once he saw the toy-quarter section (something he has never noticed until yesterday), I told him that was something for after the trip, and if he rode in the buggy the whole time, we would stop by and see if there was anything for him over there. It worked. I’m not above bribing. We try not to do it often, but when a lesson can be learned as a result, then why not?
I was right about a few folks staring. I’m not sure if I was right about their judgement. But their half glances when we ended up on the same aisle, or the fact they didn’t meet my smiles with a smile of their own makes me feel like I was right. And really, it doesn’t matter. I know it doesn’t. What matters is that my child was given the opportunity to be two and a half. His mama did her best to have patience. I don’t spank or pop him, so that was not an option for me. He received reminders for parking lot safety and not running away from the adult he’s with. He also learned that if he does what he’s told, he can look at something he’s interested in when the trip is over.
I’m not perfect. Not in the least. I would never, ever claim to be. Therefore, I expect others to never hold me to that standard. Our family’s method of parenting isn’t for everyone. It is hard. So hard. But it’s our method and it’s what we feel is best. So yes, the general public may hear squeals and shrieks from my excited child, they may think I’ve lost control of him, that I’m not handling things properly or how they would.
But he didn’t stand up in that buggy. He didn’t cry. He didn’t run from me, he didn’t fuss, and he was still able to check out the quarter machines when we left. To me, all of that is far more important than giving in to what I feel strangers may be thinking of me or wanting me to do. My priority is him… not them or their approval.
I’m not perfect.
I’m just a mom.