Mom Mess Ups
By Tracie Davis Schwertley
The second I drop my five year old off at her first jazz dance lesson, I can see that she’s dressed all wrong. She’s in a pink leotard with tights, pink ballet shoes, and her hair in a loose ponytail. The other girls have on black booty shorts, tube tops that show their tummies, and identical slicked back buns. They have matching dance bags with their names embroidered across, and identical haughty expressions. They are clutching similar BPA-free environmentally safe water bottles also with their names on them. I notice, as usual, I’ve forgotten my daughter’s water bottle.
There are thousands of ways I’ve messed this mom thing up. Some of it is rookie mom stuff--not packing enough snacks for a day out, or not packing the right things for the zoo. Some of it is not knowing protocol--flower corsages for dad/daughter dance night, or giving the kids money on book fair day. And-if I’m being honest--some of it is laziness. Today, I dropped the kids off for their swim lessons (forgot the water bottles again) with matching towels that said “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila….floor”, because all of the other beach towels were in the laundry.
A big way I mess the mom thing up is with clothing. The seasons changing always catch me by surprise. In Chicago, the weather can go from ten below in spring to a sweltering 82 degrees, and as I’m getting the kids ready for school, I realize that they have grown four inches since the last 82 degree day, and they have nothing to wear. So off they go to school in short sleeve shirts way too small, and shorts much too short (too bad this day didn’t coincide with the jazz dance day--automatic booty shorts). I got an email from the teacher reminding me of dress code (shoulders must be covered).
The tooth fairy has forgotten to come to our house before. My son, used to disappointment, just suggested I give him the money instead. I agreed. Why not cut out the middle man? Most of the pictures of the kids playing in the yard have martinis in the background. My two year old boy rides a pink and purple big wheel--his sister‘s hand me down. In my defense….he doesn’t care about gender specific colors. He rides it proudly down the street. Like a boss.
I can’t bake. While other moms are whipping up delicious cookies and cakes, nearly everything I’ve baked “tastes weird” or “falls apart“ or “is burned“ or “has vegetables hidden in it“. My eldest son made a cookbook at school for Mother’s Day. Each student submitted a favorite recipe that their mom makes for them. My son’s contribution? Frozen waffles. He had very specific instructions. “Open package. Take out waffles. Put carefully in the toaster. Don’t put fingers in. Wait. When waffles pop out, put flat on a plate.” When his friend invited himself over for dinner, and declared that I was the best cook ever, I threw triumphant looks at my kids. They were staring at my son’s friend with incredulous, shocked expressions. When I tried a new recipe out recently, here was the conversation at my house:
Daughter (poking food suspiciously): Is this a recipe?
Me: Yes. It’s new.
Son: It’s not from a cookbook. Mom doesn’t HAVE a cookbook. It’s probably from Pinterest.
Me: That’s right. It is from Pinterest.
Daughter: Oh no!!!! Everything I don’t like is from Pinterest!
Also…I would like to point out that I certainly have cookbooks. Somewhere. I also have hundreds of recipes that I’ve printed out that are stuffed in a box. Also somewhere.
I was late for signing up my son for baseball league (why would you sign a kid up in January for a sport that starts in May? Who has the kind of foresight to think about warm weather sports when it‘s freezing outside? Probably the same type of person who knows to buy clothes for the next season ahead of time).
I also can’t do hair. At all. My daughter has long blonde hair that practically begs for French braiding. When I do try to attempt a braid, people say, “Oh! How cute! She did her own hair today!” Before my daughter’s dance recital, all of the moms were given specific instructions on how each girl’s hair HAD TO LOOK before the dress rehearsal AND pictures AND dance recital. I worried about those instructions for weeks. I texted my sister in law who is a hair stylist. “Just curl it and hair spray each curl,” she texted back. I didn’t know HOW to curl the hair. That was the whole problem. The day of dress rehearsal, I armed myself with a new curling iron, ponytail holders, hair spray and glitter. I tried to curl that hair. I really did. My daughter ended up with a crimped up, frizzy mess in the back, causing our next door neighbor is look alarmed and ask, “OH NO! What HAPPENED?”
Of course, just like with any lesson that is learned, some of these mom mess ups will be remedied in the future. Next dress rehearsal, I’ll make an appointment at the hair salon. I’ll also sign my daughter up for a class where booty shorts are optional. I marked the date of baseball sign ups in red marker for January. The tooth fairy will likely forget to show again, however, and my baking will unlikely get any better.
With all of these mess ups, there are successes. There are a lot of things I’m good at. I read lots of books to my kids. We spend a lot of time outside. I try to take them fun places. We spend time together. Every night, we play “rose and thorn”, which is a Pinterest worthy pin, where the kids share what’s best about their day and what’s worst. I find a lot of things out that way. I find out what they’re worried about, what they love best, which kid is acting up at school, and what they really liked for dinner. Last night, I learned that my son and daughter’s roses were that I was the best mom ever. It turns out that kids don’t really care about water bottles being remembered after all.