We went out for frozen yogurt for the first time as a family of five this past Sunday.
Of course we took a family selfie in which everyone, including the newborn, actually faced the camera with a smile. I remember thinking how the shot was worthy of sharing with family and friends. I was so excited that we made it out of the house and even scored a snapshot.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” they say.
In this photo, I see a happy family. I see 3 kids enjoying a night out with their parents. I see a Mom and Dad that are making sweet memories with their peeps.
Picture perfect…or not?
Well, let me tell you.
Within 2 minutes of taking this photo, the newborn started crying. My husband took him out of the car-seat to discover that our cute, tiny little baby had managed to cause a serious explosion.
Oh, yes. Poop. Everywhere.
Of course, I had a diaper bag fully equipped with all necessary items for combat so off to the bathroom I went only to discover that there was no changing station. WHAT? A family establishment like this has nowhere to change a diaper.
Normally, this is when I’d take my little monkey out to the SUV where the trunk would work just fine for a diaper change. But it was over 100 degrees outside and the car would have been an oven. My baby did enough baking for 9 months prior to this. No, thank you.
We quickly decided to lock and load and make the 5 minute car ride back home.
The 5 year-old happily agreed to put a lid on his froyo and finish it at home and the 2 year-old was only stirring liquid now, so we were ready for him to part ways with his cup of goop anyway.
We started the car, blasted the A/C and loaded the kids faster than you can imagine.
Do you recall the Tasmanian Devil in Looney Toons? My husband and I put that mother-lover to shame with our speed. My husband’s head might have actually rotated 360 degrees or maybe it was just me. I guess we’ll never know.
Nevertheless, we were on a mission to get home in lightning speed.
V, my 5 year-old sang a song and patted the baby which saved us from having to pull over. The crying was getting louder and louder but V was a champ in remaining calm and trying to sooth him the best he could.
While the other two were occupied with singing and crying, my 2 year-old just sat there with a blank look on his face. Finally he broke the silence with, “Where my froyo?”
Parents, you know what I’m talking about. When you know that the small tremors are about to break into a 8.7 magnitude earthquake if you tell your toddler that you threw their precious ANYTHING away.
So we told him a little white lie. “It went to the moon.”
Anything that we need to take away from him magically “goes to the moon” and let’s face it, magic is cool. He is going to grow up to think the moon is one giant klepto, but for now, that excuse works and we use it shamelessly. Crisis averted.
We had survived the last 10 minutes like a boss and realized it could have been much worse.
And then it did get much worse.
The baby’s diaper started oozing poop and dripping all over.
His cries got louder and I nursed him while I was covered in baby poop myself.
We fell behind schedule in getting the kids washed up and into bed.
My husband and I got into a completely unnecessary argument.
It felt like the longest 90 minutes ever.
The evening felt like a complete fail at first.
All I wanted was for us to enjoy a little outing together. In my mind, it had all played out very differently.
We would laugh and talk and enjoy our froyo without any explosions. If the baby needed milk I could quietly breastfeed and if diapers needed to be changed, I would have everything we needed, including a changing station. We would make it back home early enough that we could just dive back into our routine. The kids would all be lovingly tucked into bed by 8:3opm and my husband and I would plant ourselves on the couch to watch a late-night movie.
But none of that happened. Instead, it was one crazy thing followed by the next and by the time the kids were asleep, I plopped on the couch and passed the eff out.
It was so easy to think, “Man, that was a complete fail and I’ll never do that again!” But the thing is, there were actually several successes in what seemed like an epic fail.
It was our first time out for dessert as a family of five. Not just Daddy and one kid. Not just Mommy and the older two. ALL of Us!
It was my 2 year-old’s first time getting his own bowl of froyo that he could fill himself. He squealed, “I having fun!” so many times.
My 5 year-old got a chance to redeem his reward for our in-home summer reading program. A trip to his favorite froyo shop.
We got to hear V sing to his baby brother as he lovingly tried to calm him on the car-ride. It was very precious.
Yes, in this photo, I see a happy family. I see 3 kids enjoying a night out with their parents. I see a Mom and Dad that are making sweet memories with their peeps. And it was totally worth sharing. Not because we’re all looking at the camera and smiling. But because we tried and we made it.
When the kids are young and not all places are designed for young families, things can go wrong. Things can go downhill very quickly.
And so they did.
But the point is we tried.
Fellow parents, let’s share these stories. Let’s remind each other that there is no such thing as just “picture perfect”. The pictures are only perfect because we know what imperfections have gone into making them happen.
And the diaper explosions, the screaming, the missed schedules…they are just a small price to pay to build the special memories that our kids will remember for a lifetime.