Friday Funnies: Rookie Mother Mistakes

(mothering)

We interrupt the previously scheduled Friday Funnies for an emergency (not really) message. What I planned to write today can wait because if I don’t laugh right now, I’ll cry.
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I’ve been a full-time mother for 15 years. I have 5 kids. I’ve seen it all, learned the pitfalls of motherhood and become—in my mind—quite efficient. Line up all kids in a row before spraying and brushing hair, ala assembly line style. Do all ten peanut-butter sides before moving to the jam. Only wear water-proof watches. Don’t buy shoes with ties (even for myself). I am the master of efficiency.
Yet today proved that in the last 15 years, I’ve learned absolutely nothing. Here’s a list of rookie mistakes made in a twenty-minute time period:
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Rookie mistake #1): Wear nice clothes.
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After 15 years I’ve mastered the art of frumpiness. Clean jeans and a non-stained t-shirt are my idea of dressing up. But today, I ventured. I dolled up. I shaved my legs, painted my toenails, did my hair, and actually put on makeup. I even put in some cute earrings. Big mistake. Don’t ever venture. Was I going on a hot date with my hubby? No. GNO? Nope. I was going to the U of M hospital for a follow-up appointment for my middle child who has recurring sleep problems. We’ve waited for this appointment for nine months. Literally. We’ve actually waited for a solution to his sleeping problems for two years, but when the pediatrician was out of ideas and recommended the world-renowned U of M pediatric sleep clinic, I was excited. I never dreamed it would take nine months from the first desperate phone call to get results. Results were today. Something worth dressing up for. Mistake #1.
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Rookie mistake #2: Leave the house. Hahaha. I should know better. I am not meant to leave the house. Ever.
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Rookie mistake #3: Plan on plans. Dude, I have five kids. Things never go as planned. I know this. I know this!
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However, rookie mistake #4, is where it turned ugly: Ignore 4yo when he says, “My tummy hurts.”
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You see, I was driving to said appointment in Ann Arbor, 45 minutes away. I was smart enough to leave 15 early—I have learned a few things over the years, because I have scientifically proven that if I leave 15 minutes early, I can sometimes be on time. Anyway, I was driving. 4yo said, “My tummy hurts.” I was…somewhere else mentally and kept going. Five minutes later. “My tummy hurts.” “Sorry,” I said back. “We’ll be there in a minute.”
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A minute later, I found out exactly why his tummy hurt.
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And no, we weren’t there yet.
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We were stuck on the freeway.
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Going 70mph.
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In the space of five seconds, I figured out five things.
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1) 4yos can’t aim when vomiting. Actually they can, just not at what they’re supposed to. He hit everything I cared about and nothing disposable.
2) There aren’t nearly enough exits on the freeway.
3) I’m an idiot. Amateur. Dunce. Pick a word.
4) We weren’t going to that appointment we’ve waited nine months (two years) for.
5) 10yo boys who have waited two years to sleep through the night don’t react well to changes in plans. Especially my 10yo boy. His personality forbids spontaneity.
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Rookie mistake #5: McDonald’s napkins. While driving, I reached in the glove box and found McDonald’s napkins. Come on! Everyone knows mothers should have wet-wipes in the car at all times, day or night, rain or shine. This one hurts the most. I threw a couple napkins back there, but sadly, he wasn’t even close to done.

Rookie mistake #6: Store things like purses and laptop bags below 4yo car seat. I watched helplessly in the rearview mirror as my precious items were desecrated.
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I’m sure there are plenty of other mistakes made along the way, but I finally found an exit and pulled over. Then I had to do some serious damage control. We were twenty minutes from home, I had nothing but McDonald’s napkins (and not nearly enough) to clean regurgitated Lucky Charms that had splayed ev-ery-where, and the 10yo was freaking his freak about never being able to sleep again.
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I stripped the 4yo down to undies by the side of the road (thankfully he’s young enough not to care) and put him in the 10yo’s spot, who was frantic that we could still make his sleep appointment. I may have exaggerated the truth a little at that point, saying that if we took stomach flu into a children’s hospital, kids with cancer would die. Right or wrong, it worked and he calmed down enough to let me focus on the 4yo who suddenly felt absolutely great. “I’m hungry, Mom!”
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***I have to give myself a little credit here. I did one mother-ish thing right this week. I saved my neighbors from this vomiting nightmare. Usually I don’t take my other kids to doctor appointments, but this week I kept thinking, Ah, it’s no big deal. This is just follow-up. This is just results. I’ll take the other two and we’ll go to the awesome Ann Arbor library afterward. It’s a great library. They’ll love it. Plus, I look fabulous today. Might as well make a day of it. I never get out. We’ll walk the town. Explore. So I declined both neighbors’ invitations to watch the two youngest. They can thank me later.
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Once we got home, I threw the sick child, his shoes, emptied purse, and laptop bag all in the tub together. Probably not the best idea, but desperation has done many a stranger thing. Don’t believe me?
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To save his future pride, I cropped my son out of the picture,
however he was grinning ear to ear, ready to conquer the world again. Stupid stomach flu!
An hour later, I’m back in my jeans and stained t-shirt, sitting on the couch next to this sick child, waiting for the next wave to hit. I’ve broken out of my rookie slump and have every surface within a ten feet radius covered with a blanket. Blankets, FYI, are easier to throw in a washing machine–or tub–than 12-foot sectional couches. I’m still waiting to hear from U of M on how many more months we have to wait for my son’s appointment, so I’m typing away, trying to find the humor (and sanity) in all this before I break down. Thank goodness my laptop was saved by the thick laptop bag, or I might be sobbing uncontrollably right now. (Not really.)(Did I mention that I, myself, am sick? Not the flu–thankfully–but still! I’m expecting the best Mother’s Day presents ever this year.)
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Some might ask what’s the point of writing all this down in such detail. Aside from the reminder to myself to quit making rookie mistakes, I’m writing because of my dear mother. She keeps telling me I’ll miss all of this some day. She raised seven kids and she insists she misses the noise, the messes, and the chaos.
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This post is to prove otherwise.
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PS (I’m doing a 100th post writing thing. I was supposed to ask more questions today, but I’m a little frazzled if you hadn’t noticed, so if you’re a writer and you haven’t added your opinion yet, check out yesterday’s post here. I’ll have more questions for you next week–assuming the flu doesn’t spread. Ugh. I need chocolate.)
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Author: Rebecca Belliston @rlbelliston

Hopeless romantic and author of CITIZENS OF LOGAN POND, SADIE and AUGUSTINA. Music nerd and composer of RELIGIOUS and CLASSICAL-STYLE music. I live in Michigan with my husband and five kids.

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