Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Perfect Storm

A few hours ago my handsome, freshly bathed toddler sporting adorable monkey pajamas charmed the pants off of every disgruntled, fresh-off-of-work shopper in my local Whole Foods Market.  I could not walk three feet without a stranger witnessing and commenting on his giddy demeanor, his infectious sing-song-like laugh, his smile or the gleam in his eye.  Yes ladies and gentleman, the P-man was "On." Which of course means, you guessed it, Mommy was ON with a capital O-N.

What's that you ask?  Oh, of course, he's always this charming, happy and delicious.  That's why I look so impossibly refreshed after 12 hours of entertaining a fiery lithe boy with a penchant for climbing things.  Excuse me while I strut (not walk) through the deli section right on into the bulk foods aisle.  Because (and excuse me if I'm mistaken) that's where we moms who kick parenting's ass buy organic, hormone-free, antibiotic free, vegan grains with names that we can't pronounce and turn them into delicious, nutritious Whole-Foodsier-than-thou meals that our toddlers gobble up.  Right?

Yes, today had been the perfect day.  We ran errands, we visited museums, we had play dates and Mommy's new bangs stayed perfectly in place through it all. Yet somehow, just one hour after our perfect visit to Whole Foods where we gave the performance of a lifetime, I stood in my kitchen covered in instant oatmeal.  Yes, instant oatmeal from a packet.  Instant oatmeal within which I had tried to hide an egg, just the smallest bit of protein for my toddler whose palette is only so robust as to eat products from within the bread and dairy families these days.   Covered in instant oatmeal and at my wits end, I looked my 16-month-old son square in the eyes and politely asked, "P, could you please stop acting like an asshole?"

Poor choice of words?  Yes.  But, forgive me for saying it and for thinking it, but when someone screams, cries and physically expresses disgust in the second or third food product you've prepared for him that evening  by using his tiny little hand to dump and smear it all over you....that, my friends, is acting like an asshole.  A tiny, adorable, charming little asshole.

Broken, I hand P a far-from-organic, unholy, processed stick of cheese that much to my dismay will serve as dinner.  He looks up at me, smiles and says, "Thank You" before puckering up for a kiss.  We sit on the floor while our grown up dinner simmers on the stove.  Next to me rests the pan that I used to cook the offending egg half-an hour earlier.  I pick tiny remains of scrambled egg out of the pan and drop them into the yogurt he happily eats off an adult-sized spoon.   He moves a few steps away, looks back at me and flashes a brilliant yogurt-covered smile.  I melt.

Once again, Mommy's little asshole has reminded me of what a perfect day it has been. What a perfect day they all are.  A long time ago I read an article that described having children as long stretches of exhaustion, frustration and difficulty peppered with small moments of joy so great that they wipe away even the most trying of incidents.  At the time, this article made me ponder why anyone would have children.  I questioned how any moment could produce the kind of happiness that completely diminishes even the most emotionally distressing, sleep deprived stretches of time.  Now, as someone fortunate enough to experience the intense delight that something as simple as a smile or sweetly uttered, "thank you" from your child can bring, I find myself questioning more often what it was that frustrated me in the first place.  Most of the time, I simply can't remember.