Being a mom is a roller coaster ride. For every moment that I feel slick and accomplished, there’s one waiting around the corner where I fall on my face.
Take, for example, the last day or so. Yesterday, the kids & I had an appointment for flu shots. With Jo’s help, I got everyone up, dressed and fed, wrestled the double stroller downstairs, strapped both kids in, and made it to the strassenbahn in time to make our 23 minute trip, walk a few blocks, and still arrive early for our 9:00 appointment. We got our flu shots and headed home. We opted to walk back to get some exercise. The kids were pretty happy — I even remembered snacks and water! We were home by 10:30, all vaccinated and with a brisk, hour-long walk done for the grown ups. Success.
Then I realized that I left behind the temporary spider tattoos that B got as part of his reward for being good for his shot — one very sad (and angry) boy. Fail.
So, this morning, while B was at school, I went out for a jog. On the way home, I stopped by the local toy store and bought some new tattoos. They didn’t have spiders, so I got dinosaurs. I brought them with me when I picked B up at school. He was so excited and grateful. Success.
Then, on our way home, with an excited boy and tattoos in hand, we started chatting with an English woman and her young daughter (about 7 years old). We talked about living in Vienna, where we were all originally from, and how much we enjoyed our recent trip to England. I said I’d love to go back, and the little girl asked if I wanted to live there. I responded cheerily with, “Maybe one day!”, to which B responded, “Well, you can go live in London , England, but I’m not going with you!” I told him not to worry, that we weren’t really planning to move to England, and the little girl said, “He might not want to go with you, but I will!” to which I jokingly replied, “Ok, we’ll switch!”
Ok. Funny to a grown up, and apparently to a 7 year old (who giggled) but NOT funny to my sweet 4 year old Benjamin. He clung to my arm and said, “No, you’re MY mother.” I told him I was kidding at that of course I’d never trade him in for anyone, and we left our new friends, all of us smiling. But on the way home, he brought it up again, and I realized I’d actually scared him. It was a completely boneheaded moment — I spend so much time fostering a feeling of safety and connection between me and my boys, and then I go and say something awful and insensitive that plants a seed of doubt. Ugh. Complete fail.
He seems ok now, but I wish I could erase it. I wish I could fix those failure moments, especially when they cut deeper than a forgotten tattoo. Based on my track record, I have to hope there’s a success waiting around the next bend, but truly, deeply and most of all, I hope that the successes ultimately outweigh the failures.