With the holidays quickly approaching I have had to spend more time than I like with my kids in retail stores and restaurants. I try very hard to run errands without my children. If I am planning to go out to a store with my kids, I need to add at least 1.5 hours to my total trip time. That time accounts for bathroom breaks, snack stops, public meltdowns, etc. The holidays only amplify the crazy that exists in my family. Anytime I go out with all three kids it’s like I am using a megaphone to tell the world “Watch out, here comes the Crazy Ape Shit out of Control family.” The glaring looks of fellow shoppers, can be as icy as the winter snow. Some shoppers offering a look of pity, others are staring at you shaming you for having such ill-behaved children.
Last week I was heading out of Home Depot with all of the kids. I made the mistake of walking past the Christmas decorations. My kids wanted to stop to look at all of the light up lawn ornaments, and push every button on the singing stuffed animals. When are the stores going to wise up and put those pieces of shit on a shelf that my demented “elf” children can’t reach? We spent about 15 minutes watching the blinking lights before I announced that we would be leaving. My youngest wanted to continue to push the buttons on the snowmen, reindeer, and the new and improved Christmas fox. We were on a tight schedule, so I said “No, it’s time to go.” I had my oldest holding my hand, the middle was in the basket, and my youngest was now dragging on the floor holding onto my leg screaming as though he was being tortured in the Spanish Inquisition. He desperately wanted to push the button one more time. My button however, had been pushed its final time.
As we passed the exit there was a greeter at the door. He looked and me and said, “I don’t miss those days.” I stopped and looked at him; not exactly sure what to say. Then it hit me. I said “Thank you.” He was one of the first people to be honest with me and agree that this shit sucks. Parenting isn’t all roses, and it’s OK to be honest. We talked for a few minutes. He told me that he much prefers his 30-year-old son, to the pain in the ass toddler that he raised over 26 years ago. It made me feel better about the rage I was feeling in the lawn ornament aisle five minutes earlier.
Everyone always says, “Don’t be stressed, you’re going to miss this.” I beg to differ. I am not going to miss running down the aisle of the grocery store to stop a kid from pulling down boxes of Cheerios. I will not miss public restroom breaks where my kids drop an F-7 shit that can scrape the paint off the walls. I will not miss leaving my basket full of items at the front of the store to go to the minivan to have a “chat.” I will not miss whisper screaming into my kid’s ear and raising my blood pressure 30 points. These are not the memories that people scrap-book. I have yet to see a photo album where someone puts pictures of them punishing their children, or a scrap-book kit for the “Time-Out” page.”Oh Stacy, look how cute Tommy is in the time out chair. What a beautiful memory.” Said no Mom ever.
There are plenty of things that I will miss. I will miss cuddle’s and hugs. I will miss butterfly kisses and hand holding. I will miss painting nails and coloring. Everyone misses the good shit. When was the last time you heard a parent say, “Man, I sure do miss the time when Bobby told his teacher to shut-up. That was a blast to deal with.” I think it’s OK to not miss the crappy hard times that we deal with as parents. I think it’s OK to call this period of time “survival mode.” I guarantee you that I will raise a glass to all fellow parenting survivors when I can go into a store and not worry that someone will call 911 because they see me slapping one of my kids with a flip-flop. It is OK to say, I will not miss those days.