The other day I had to run some errands with Leah in tow. It was kind of gloomy and rainy, and errands are a drag, so I thought a little upbeat music would make it more fun. You all know I love me some Taylor Swift, but she wasn’t doing it for me that day, for some reason. This was a job for Michael Jackson. Oh yeah–Thriller, baby! That’s what we needed!
So I blasted it, and Leah and I started grooving and car dancing, as we do. “I want to love you–P.Y.T.–pretty young thing”. Now, because I am a very excellent and experienced mom, I had bribed Leah with a milkshake if she behaved in the store, which she did of course. That girl would never miss out on a milkshake. So we rolled into McDonald’s, on our way to the drive-through. “You need some loving–T.L.C.–tender loving care, and I’ll take you there, take you there, take you there.”
“Mom”, she says, “can you turn that music off when we go through the drive through?” I looked back at her quizzically. The music wasn’t even that loud. “It’s kind of embarrassing…” she clarified. Huh. Oh, I get it. I see what’s happening here. So, I did what any good mom would do. I turned that music UP and started singing really loud, of course.
I have seen some signs in my almost 10-year-old of entering the “perpetual parental embarrassment” phase. This did not surprise me at all. I am a little surprised that my 7- year-old is getting there already, but no matter. Because, you guys—this is going to be AWESOME. I am going to be SO GOOD at this. I was made for this.
So much of mothering and parenting just takes so much effort. It’s hard on so many levels, and you are stretched out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. The older my kids get, the more unprepared I feel to handle all the things that come with them growing up. When they were babies and toddlers, at least I had those “What to Expect” books to refer to. Now I’m just winging it. Any outsider can see I obviously have no idea what I am doing, parenting these kids. But this–this is different. All I have to do here is be myself. I just have to keep myself alive. That is all that is required of me in order to succeed in embarrassing my children. And do you want to know what I will tell my kids when they tell me I am embarrassing them?
I will say, “It’s about damn time”.
Nate, remember all those times you lost your ever-loving mind in the grocery store and started screaming like a banshee? Or all the times you dropped a “silent-but-deadly” in church, as we sat helplessly by, eyes watering from the fumes? Then there was that time you went up to that guy with the beer gut hanging over his pants and asked him, “how come you don’t get very much exercise?” Or the time you accusingly asked that very pregnant woman if she was married? Oh, you don’t remember? Well, I do, and here’s the thing:
It’s PAYBACK time.
And Leah, my precious delicate flower. Remember that time you fell into the toilet bowl, butt-first, in that public bathroom? You were soaked from knees to nipples and I had to fish you out of a dirty public toilet, dry you off with one-ply toilet paper, wrap you in your coat, and then go finish the grocery shopping with a half-naked, contaminated preschooler. Or how about all the times you created a scene in a parking lot because you didn’t want to get buckled in to your car seat, so you alternated between doing the wet- noodle and the dead-drop, making it physically impossible for me to corral you into the car? Let us never forget the time you spilled a whole gallon of paint in Home Depot, after you begged daddy to carry the paint and said “I won’t drop it daddy, trust me!” Guess what:
Turn around is fair play.
Listen moms and dads. Being a parent is rough. When raising a family, there are so many things that seem like they are going to be fun in theory (birthday parties! field trips!), and then when you are actually doing them, they are not as much fun as you thought. Sometimes those things you thought would be fun actually make you start fantasizing about sticking an ice-pick in your eye so that you can be released from the “fun” and go have a nice rest in the emergency room instead. So we have to MAKE OUR OWN FUN!! THIS IS HOW I AM GOING TO HAVE LOTS OF FUN!! [insert evil laugh]
And you know me. I don’t do anything half-way. When I set my mind to do something, I commit. I do a really good job, because I take pride in a job well done.
It occurs to me that perhaps my parents also made their own fun at this game of embarrassing their children. Mom, dad–you have outdone yourselves. You have exceeded expectations in this task. Everything I learned about embarrassing my children, I learned from you. Thanks for that. Seriously though, you can stop now. Enough is enough.