Parenting lesson #27: the extent to which things go wrong is directly proportional to how unrealistic your expectations are

On the days when everything has to go right for your plans to work out, inevitably just about everything will go wrong.  And if I really think it through, most of the time it’s my fault for expecting too much of myself and my kids.

Yesterday, my plan for the day was to get up, run, shower, feed the kids and get ready, go to our 10 a.m. music class, then, assuming Zach was hanging in there, head to Chuck-e-Cheese’s to meet up with a friend, get home for naps and build my lasagna for dinner, then once they woke up, head to the mall to hit up Old Navy’s sale with my Groupon and Gymboree with my Gymbucks, and finally go to the grocery store to pick up essentials and dessert fruit before hosting our friend and her son for dinner.  (Lovely, Zach just spilled a bottle of hot pink nail polish on the floor.)

The day, of course, did not get off on the right foot because Zach had a nightmare and spent two-and-a-half hours awake before finally falling to sleep again.  Instead of sleeping in, he woke up ready for the day at 6:15 a.m.  I knew he would need a morning nap or we’d never make it.  So after the morning eat and get dressed routine, I put Zach to bed at 8:30 with my fingers crossed that he would fall asleep.  At 8:45 he was still making all kinds of noise, so I checked on him and discovered he had taken his large morning poop.  Great, now he could sleep.  Well, he didn’t fall asleep until 9:15.

At 9:45, I made the decision to wake him up and go to music class anyway.  As a caveat, the only way to explain this is to say I am my father’s daughter.  When I was a kid and McDonald’s had its 29-cent hamburgers and 39-cent cheeseburgers for a limited time and a 10 burger limit per person, my family would pile in our minivan, my mom would go through the drive thru, and my dad, older brother and I would each get in a separate line inside.  We would head home with 40 hamburgers and cheeseburgers to freeze.

So, back to my music class … this class is $25 for the two of them and 45-minutes long, and because I don’t like wasting money, I couldn’t imagine skipping it so little man could make up his missed nighttime sleep.

Off we went.  Of course, Zach couldn’t really be peeled off of me because he was a hot mess.  When I did put him down, he proceeded to throw a temper tantrum that consisted of lying face down on the dirty tile floor, pounding his fists on the ground and kicking his feet.  I left him there, but noticed he had brown stains on the back of his shorts.  I checked him and realized his diaper was leaking.  Let me begin by saying this was a complete mystery to me, seeing as he had already taken a huge dump, and he hadn’t leaked out of his diaper in this way since he was at best 3-months-old.  So of course you understand why I did not have spare clothes.  (When you’re prepared, you never need them.)  And my diapers and wipes were in the car.  I agonized for 10 minutes over what to do, whether to just hold him and wait it out until the end of class, or risk leaving Eliza inside alone and run to the car.  I finally decided to head to the car as the leakage escalated, so I indicated my situation to a friend so she could keep an eye on Eliza and left to decontaminate Zach.

While cleaning up the blowout, I noticed a man sitting in his car in the parking lot, talking on the phone.  It seemed strange.  So when I decided to leave my purse in the car to avoid having to carry it and my koala baby, I took my wallet out and hid it in the center console.  I went back into the class with Zach in only a diaper and t-shirt.  I’m generally beyond caring about judging, especially on this day in this moment.

We finished up class and it was 11:15 by the time we left.  I decided to take a detour to the mall then, because it was only a few blocks away and I figured I could find some pants for Zach in the same amount of time it would take to go home and get him fresh ones before heading to Chuck-e-Cheese’s.  So off we went.  For the 10 minutes we were in Old Navy shopping, Zach was a mess.  He didn’t want to stay in the stroller after I put some jeans on him to make sure they fit, and I figured at this point that he was not only tired, but also hungry as well.  So I was in a hurry.  I got to the checkout line, ready to get the heck out of there.  Everyone was staring at me, in part because they had to scan pants that Zach was wearing as I explained that he came in the store without any, and in part because he and Eliza were running around playing with balls.

I stuck my hand in my purse and did my usual wallet search, only to realize it was not there.  Instantly, my memory flashed back to the parking lot where I moved it to the center console to hide it.  My wallet was a 5-minute walk and elevator ride away in the car.  If you are a fan of the movie, “A Christmas Story,” that moment was sort of like when Ralphie drops his pan of  lug nuts while helping his dad change their flat tire.  “Ohhhhhh … fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuddddddgggggeeee.”

I smiled at the clerk, asked if he could hold my stuff, and took screaming Zach (in stolen pants, essentially) and questioning Eliza (“Mommy, where we going?  Where are my pants and fancy shoes?”) back to the car, realizing it was noon and there was really no way we were going to make it to Chuck-e-Cheese’s.  I finally made it back to Old Navy to pay for the stolen pants Zach and the few other things I wanted to buy.  I headed, defeated, to the food court and fed them.  They were actually a little better after eating, so I spent my Gymbucks (while Zach continued to fuss) and then booked it the heck out of the mall to get them home for much-needed naps.

The good news is that Zach didn’t fight his nap this time and Eliza wanted me to cuddle her.  I lay there thinking about the lasagna I needed to prep, but the thought drifted off as I succumbed to sleep.  An hour later I woke with Eliza in my arms and moved to my own bed, where I slept another hour until Zach woke me.

In the end, my friend came over early and brought what I needed to complete the lasagna.  I’m just out of some staple foods and we missed Chuck-e-Cheese’s.  But looking back, I know I had doomed myself from the start.  With the kids in tow, errands take exponentially more time with potty and diapering breaks, and pauses to explain why we’re not buying the Hello Kitty lunchbox at the checkout line.  And kids also don’t need seven activities planned to fill up their days.  Music class and Chuck-e-Cheese’s in one morning is a lot to ask of them.  Parenthood teaches you flexibility, because plans can only be so set when these little people are so needy.  And I also learned to be sure I always have spare clothes for both kids in the car.

Today I’m taking it much easier and I have only one social item on the agenda.  And it’s already a better day, as – knock on wood – the nail polish spill is the only mishap so far.

3 thoughts on “Parenting lesson #27: the extent to which things go wrong is directly proportional to how unrealistic your expectations are

  1. Thank you Sis, you have confirmed my doubts about fathering any children. I hope JH has a bunch because I ain’t!

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