Friday, July 27, 2012

First in Commando

Parenting is one long lesson in picking your battles.  

Don’t hit. Don’t yell at your sister. Say Thank You. Say Please. Wash Your Hands. Pens are for Paper. These are the basics. As a mom, I spend so much of my time drilling in the basics, with the occasional crazy-I-can’t-believe-you-don’t-already-know this lesson (for example: please do not cut off your sister’s toes with safety scissors. Even if they are wrinkled from the tub and Mommy made a joke one time that you still remember a year later. Just…don’t).

Which is why, frequently, as often as possible, I let go of the small stuff. The stuff that’s not quite right, but whatever. They’ll figure it out, eventually. I mean, no one ever got to be a senior in high school before they said “Wait a minute. The tag’s supposed to go on the inside?”

Which is how, the day before we left for vacation I ended up in the supermarket with a four-year-old who was clearly wearing lingerie. Sheer, sexy sleeves. Marabou feathers. Crushed velvet. Glitter accents. I mean, it was a hot little number. Let me explain…

Mr. Beaker and I parent by relay. We slap hands on the highway (him going to work, me coming home) and hopefully, most of the time, our kids aren’t left home alone. That’s the goal. I’m sure there are millions of families just like ours with two working parents, bleary-eyed and exhausted and a both bit tired of doing the shift alone.  

This just meant that the day before vacation was a blur. I had to pack our whole trip in one day, with the kids at home, while Mr. B worked. Four and two make that tough, they’re a needy bunch. So, at seven o’clock when I realized that I still needed stamps and new crayons and I looked out the window and it was positively teeming, I said: Everyone! We are going to the grocery store in our jammies! Simply in an effort to get them to the store and back without a meltdown. And shockingly enough, everyone said YAY!

L ran upstairs to get changed and returned wearing a discarded Halloween costume I completely forgot she ever had : a sexy teddy witch’s costume. 

Except…if she took off the pointy hat, she looked a little bit like a teeny, tiny prostitute. I picked a battle that day.

FINE. But you MUST wear the hat. It’s not an option. Okay?


Nevermind why. It’s the hat or nothing. Up to you. 

Can I wear my princess shoes [read: high heels. OMG, are you kidding?]


So we went. Me and A. and L., a four-year-old Pretty Woman. But we were all in the car. Happy. Singing, I think. And I was feeling pretty good. I packed for vacation. There were only minutes, not hours, of tears that day.  And I was having a moment of joy over finally, for once, having my shit together. Of being that mom.

And then Lily said:

“Uh-oh, Mommy. I forgot to put my undies back on!”

Going Commando