I was talking to an old college friend, Dala, after Halloween this year about how this was Esmé’s first year Trick-or-Treating and how she brought in quite the haul.
I sent her a picture of all of the candy she got, with it all organized into groups of what they were, and all the labels facing up. I mean, isn’t that what everyone does after they go trick-or-treating? Organize their candy so they know what they have?? No?
Before I go on, I have to give you a little backstory… Last month, we went to Arizona so I could visit with my family and friends, and so Esmé could meet several people that she had never met before. While we were there, we stayed with the afore mentioned friend of mine, who happens to be an amazing Interior Designer. As such, her house is spectacular. If West Elm and Restoration Hardware had a baby, it would look like her house.
While Dala showed me her lovely new fridge, she made the mistake of pointing out how every bottle, carton, and container was arranged with labels facing out. I told her ‘OOoooooo! So pretty and organized!!’ but in my head I knew that I now had a secret mission to rearrange them while I was there. And so, while she was doing something on her laptop when Esmé was down for her nap, I turned every single container (yes even the ones in the doors) backwards.
I’m literally shaking with silent (Esmé is sleeping) laughter as I write this, because I still think it’s hilarious. (Sorry not sorry Dali!)
Anyway, it took a long time for her to notice. I actually thought I was going to miss seeing her reaction, but finally I heard an ‘Oh. My. God.’
Ahahahaha!!! I started laughing out loud as she said to me ‘Did you really turn all of these around??!’ She shook her head and repeatedly said ‘That is messed up. That is just so messed up.’ while putting them back in place.
Once she was reminded of the mischievous, conniving person I am, she gave me explicit instructions not to touch her very nice, glass ingredient containers that were all arranged (of course) face forward on her open shelves. Being the good friend that I am, I listened. Then I turned all her spice jars around before we headed down to Tucson.
-End of backstory-
When I sent her a picture of Esmé’s perfectly arranged candy, she responded ‘How would you like it if I came over and mixed it all up, then turned them label faced-down.’ I laughed heartily for two reasons. The first, obviously, because I got to relive my hilarious pranks. The second was that even if she were here to try and get me back for my shenanigans, she needn’t lift a finger. I have a small tornado living with me who does that to me every. single. day.
Esmé actually spent the entirety of last week putting me through the paces, and I failed miserably. She was crankier and needier than usual. I was short on patience and empathy, and we both were missing Daddy, who was out of town.
I screamed and yelled and she gave it right back. I was tired, fighting through a migraine, and frustrated to have such a willful child who wouldn’t listen. Talking to the wall would have yielded better results than I had with her. There were so many times when I wished I could just disappear and have someone else do my job.
I was angry, and frustrated. I felt isolated to be spending the entire week alone with this tiny tyrant. I felt like a failure for not being able to finish anything on my to-do list, and I felt guilty for losing my sh*t for the umpteenth time with my toddler. I thought to myself parenting is ridiculously hard, and I don’t know how I’m going to do this.
It was during this wallowing in misery of the hardship of being a parent that I remembered my talk with Dala. Just a week earlier, I explained to her why it wouldn’t matter to me in the slightest if she came over and messed up our candy. I told her because becoming a parent changes you, and changes your priorities.
It means letting go of so many things that you are OCD about…
like clean houses, tables, and chairs, because children have to learn how to do things for themselves, and it’s going to be messy. If you don’t, you end up yelling a lot, and then hating yourself afterwards. I told her that it’s the hardest thing in the world, but it makes you the best version of yourself that you never thought you could be.
Parenting is hard work. It is character building, and that comes with growing pains. Literally. You have to think about the kind of person you want your child to be, and try your best to act that way, even when they’re crying/screaming/ whining at you, so they learn from you. You have to be bigger and better than your character flaws. You have to be a grown up, but maintain a sense of humor, and try to see things from a child’s point of view.
When all of that threatens to overwhelm you when you are feeling lowest of the low, remember your own advice and just let it go. Remember that tomorrow is a new day, with a fresh start to do better.
Remember that it’s worth it. For every ‘no’ and/or swath of smeared food on your table, there is a big wet kiss and/or monster hug that will make your heart feel like it can’t possibly fit inside your chest.
Most importantly, remember to be careful showing off carefully organized things if I happen to be your house guest.