“This is going to be so perfect!”
Any time that thought crosses your mind and a toddler is involved, you know you’re in for a rude awakening.
Life with a toddler can be many things: magical, hilarious, exhausting… but rarely is it “perfect.”
I learned this lesson – again -- recently when I got the opportunity to share some of my advice for new parents in a TODAY segment about the TODAY Parenting Team.
I was thrilled. After working behind the scenes to launch this wonderful community, I jumped at the chance. My super-brilliant idea? I would tape the interview while holding my 22-month-old. Just look at him! He’s adorable!
Yes, that is a naturally occurring mullet on my 22-month-old. Glorious, isn't it?
The audience would be spellbound by whatever I blathered as they gazed upon his cherubic face. Plus, my ego whispered to me, I would look like such an awesome, perfect, totally together mom, baby on my hip as I chatted with the TODAY show. Oh, just “having it all,” my calm, wise expression would say, as my baby gazed adoringly at me. What a great representative of the TODAY Parenting Team I would be!
Of course, you can all guess what happened. It didn’t go down that way. Normally, my toddler wants to be ON me 100 percent of the time. My arms have the tensile strength of a suspension bridge. I perform all household and basic hygiene tasks one-handed, because the other arm is always full of toddler. But as soon as the camera went on, my little snuggle bunny was replaced by an explorer, determined to chart every cranny of the TODAY green room. I tried to get him interested in sitting on my lap, but he was having none of it and flailing, wailing toddlers don’t exactly make good television.
Yes, that's a full back-arching, fist-pumping, feet-kicking show of unhappiness by the parenting editor's son in the TODAY green room.
Instead, arms empty and a little distracted, I said my piece to (extremely patient) producer Brittany Schreiber while my son cheerfully played with salad tongs he stole off a tray – out of the picture. So much for my “perfect” image.
Of course, I should have known better, on two levels. He is my second child, so I know that toddlers are chaos generators with soft little cheeks. Knowledge is not always power, though; just like my kids, apparently I need to learn some lessons multiple times before they sink in.
And I should have known better to try to pull off the whole "perfect mommy" thing. Nobody's falling for that. This isn't a community for perfect parents, who are mythological beings, like Sasquatch or children who never pitch a fit in the cereal aisle. This is a community for real parents, who make mistakes. Such as, ahem, thinking a toddler would be a docile TV sidekick. As one of my heroes and TODAY Parenting Team contributor Glennon Doyle Melton says, the most interesting people are the ones who let down their guard in life. This is a place for all of us to share the good AND challenging reality of parenting.
I had to laugh, especially when, the minute Brittany packed up her camera and left the room, my son scrambled into my lap and quietly nestled that soft cheek into the crook of my neck. My little angel.
I ended up representing the TODAY Parenting Team all right – not by being flawless and oh-so-cool, but by being me … and laughing at my own big plans. Hope I made you proud, TODAY Parenting Team.
Actually, I think it was perfect.