Friday morning I jolted awake at 2:37 a.m.
I had forgotten to buy Zion a Halloween costume. Ordinarily my holiday-esque procrastination would have been no biggie since Friday was the day before Halloween…but Friday was not only dress up day at Zion’s therapy center, it was Zoë’s 13th birthday, I had meetings all day, and zero wiggle room for last minute Halloween errands.
Now I know full well Zion couldn’t care less about Halloween, but I wanted to be fair. I spent tons of time and money on Zoë’s birthday party, so I let guilt rule my decision making.
I got up and went to Meijer.
Note to self: when you shop at Meijer the day before Halloween at 3 a.m., you are going to find garage sale fodder. For way too much money.
I resorted to buying a man-sized Spongebob Squarepants suit. Between that and the 20 pound bag of candy, the token avocado I always purchase while at Meijer, the wine I should have purchased for myself but didn’t, and the giant spider-webbed chocolate chip cookie, I spent…too much.
So Zion went on about his day with his bank-loan worthy Spongebob suit and his party offerings. But did he care one iota that I had just dropped a tenth of my mortgage on Halloween crap?
Nope. Not even a little.
Let’s call a spade a spade here. I bought that suit for myself. To assuage my own parental guilt.
As a matter of fact, he cared so little that he removed the suit, and left it at the therapy center. So we couldn’t even use it for Halloween.
So Friday night, my family and I pulled off a Pinterest-worthy surprise birthday party for Zoë. She was completely surprised. It was amazing. The decor, the simple appetizers, the people in attendance, even the cake was perfection:
I posted about 10,000 photos on social media. Friday was a Pinterest Day.
Saturday, not so much.
So……Saturday morning, Zion wakes up in full tilt. He clearly had way too much sugar at Zoë’s birthday party. In his sleep, he has an apocalypse-style poo that takes me almost an hour to clean up. He is talking in that nasal head voice that lets you know he is escalating quickly. He is throwing things. He starts punching the walls for no reason.
He’s an angry elf.
And I am getting there.
So I give him a bath. Zoë and her friend wake up, (yes, there was a guest in our house) and after boiling myself in detergent for 10 minutes, I make breakfast. The kids sit down to cheesy eggs and hot buttered toast, when I realize I don’t have any jelly.
If you know us very well, not having grape jelly is like not having Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The fear starts to mount in my belly. I turn away, close my eyes and take a deep breath. But Zion is like a dog. He can smell fear a mile away.
I sit down at the table, and Zion says “Purple?”
I don’t even make eye contact. I say, “Buddy, I don’t have any grape jelly.”
I send the girls to the living room to eat. I know what is coming.
Zion slams his fist down on the table. I ignore it. He does it again. I look up and simply say in my sternest voice, “Stop.” This escalates into a tantrum that rivals the battle scene in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
These are the times I wish The Elder Wand was an actual thing.
Food was thrown. Dishes were broken. A fork was wielded at one point and aimed for my right hand. A table was used as a shield.
And that was it. I snapped.
And when I snap… it is loud. And a little scary.
Zion was sent to his room as I cleaned up my second enormous mess of the day before 10 a.m.
I admit it. I cried for a minute. Hot, angry, disappointed tears.
I dropped my head as I mourned my inability to maintain my calm, as a million thoughts rushed through my head:
THIS is why I can’t make things fair for my kids. THIS is why I feel like Zoë always gets more.
OMG I just yelled at Zion in front of Zoë’s best friend. She probably thinks I am a psycho hosebeast now.
It isn’t even time to go trick-or-treating, and Zion is already acting like this?
Oh sweet baby Jesus, his costume is at the therapy center.
Oh my God, I just spanked a kid I never, ever spank.
I am a terrible mother! I should be burned at the stake!
Come on now.
Right then I decided that October 31, 2015 would not be a Pinterest Halloween. Not fair for my kids? How about what is fair to me?
So I forgave myself. I went and apologized to the girls. And I took Zion to spend the day with the only person who sometimes speaks his language.
His Papo. (grandpa)
I kidnapped my sister, my mom and my daughter, and we spent some girl time together for my sister’s birthday, while Papo worked his expelliarmus on the boy. And within an hour, Papo had Zion looking like this:
I can’t explain it. And yes, it pisses me off a little that I don’t have that power. But I have just learned to be grateful that Papo is a wizard in his own right…and I move on.
I have come a very long way. Just a few years ago, I was much harder on myself. The Halloween scene would have played out more like this:
Force Zion into a costume, drag him from door to door while he cries and resists, take 1,000 photos hoping for one that is scrapbook worthy, come home to immerse Zion in a sea of candy that he doesn’t want, complain about his sugar-induced behavior, cry myself to sleep.
But what I’ve come to learn is that my kid isn’t everyone else’s kid. I derive way more joy from taking Zion to Papo’s house, and being at home in peace while handing out candy to kids who actually want to be there.
Yup. That’s my love language.
Some days you will do it perfectly right. That day for me was Friday. And some days you will do it perfectly not right. For me, that day was Saturday.
It is what it is. And now it’s history.
I tell a lot of flashback stories. I do this for a number of reasons:
- Vulnerability. AKA reading about my craziness makes you feel more normal. You’re welcome.
- Reflectability. It helps me to look back at all of the mistakes I’ve made, and see how much I’ve grown.
- Balance-ability. Some days you do things incredibly right and swell with pride and post a zillion photos for the world to see. And other days are just a dry erase board. It’s okay to have dry erase board days. It’s called parenting. It keeps you humble.