Yesterday, I potentially made my worst parenting mistake to date. I took Max to the funeral.
I didn’t realize it right away, but Monday was a hard day for me and it shook me up quite a bit. It was hard to come face to face with death and realize that it is a reality. Dave, Katie’s dad, was the 2nd parent of my friends (MY AGE) to be buried this month. That doubles the number of funerals I have been to my entire life! The “scene” on Monday was very surreal and like a real-life episode of CSI. I know there are people that encounter stuff like this all the time, but for me, it was new, and it really rocked my little world.
I’ve really struggled since then with worrying- about the men in my life- Chad, Max and Gabe, my brothers and my parents too- and anyone else I came in contact with that I could possibly worry about. I’ve been a lot more sheepish about leaving Max- even just in his own room at night- and I keep waking to go in and check on him hourly. Which brings me to the funeral- I “couldn’t” drive 60 miles south and leave Max at home- I just wanted him with me. So I brought him.
But unfortunately, he acted JUST like an 11 month old- what was he thinking? He wanted to crawl around and play and chat. He squealed when I took something away that was making too much noise, and laughed and clapped when he was proud of himself, and he had no qualms about making noise. We stood at the back of the service so I could still hear, yet let him crawl around, but he wasn’t quiet. I had my stuff on the back pew and several people came in late and sat ON it. So then I was stuck. I was really torn about what to do- I wanted to hear and be a part of the service- I wanted to walk though this with Katie too, and be able to remember the Truth the was spoken into her heart at the funeral, so that I could repeat those words to her over the weeks and months to come. But my child was disrupting everyone. I took him out briefly and it calmed him down, but about 7 minutes after we came back in, he was at it again- being an 11 month old.
By this point, I was so flustered, embarrassed, and frustrated. I could tell the service was almost over and the last thing we needed was for us to be standing at the back when the recessional happened- so I just snatched up Max and left. By the time I got to the car, I was sweating and on the verge of tears. I packed Max in the car, and started driving only to get caught in 5 o’clock traffic in downtown Atlanta. By this point, Max was ready for some real mommy attention, and he was more than ready to be out of his seat.
My attitude wasn’t good. I was mad at him. But every time I adjusted my mirror to look at him, and I saw his cute face, I melted. And then he would start fussing again, causing the cycle to start all over again.
I tried processing what would’ve been the right thing to do- God, Chad, and Max are my priorities in life– but in this situation, Katie was too. I was really stuggling with how to be a great mom and a great friend at the same time. I was also feeling really selfish for bringing him, just because I didn’t want to leave- but after this crazy week, Max was really feeling Mommy-neglect, so I knew it was best for him to be with me too. Just not at a funeral.
Almost 2 hours later, we were about a mile from our house when Max started pooping. His face when he does this is classic– it’s like it so much work, even though what he’s working on isn’t exactly “firm”. This got me laughing which was just what I needed.
After I parked the car, I got Max out, slung him on my hip, and began to gather all of our stuff. All of a sudden a hear a big plop… then another. I look down and there are BIG globs of poop on the garage floor. I look at his car seat and there’s a ton there too. I look at the baby, yep, affirmative, all down his legs… and lastly, I look at me, in my nice, dry clean only clothes, and yep, all over me as well. As I stood there holding Max like a bomb that was about to blow, I couldn’t even think straight. The child has impeccable timing.
Tears filled my eyes and I peeled his clothes off and took him straight in to the bath tub. As I became more acquainted with the situation, I realized that it wasn’t the “quality” of the poop that was the problem- he wasn’t having stomach issues or anything– it was just the quantity. It was like a 2 month back up made its appearance, right in the midst of my major frustration and pity party. Really?? And he is VERY regular, so I’m really unsure as to where he was storing it! Once I got myself cleaned up, I called Chad to warn him about the “chocolate surprises” in the garage. Luckily, recounting the situation for him got me giggling a little.
He came in and hosed out the garage and I cleaned the child. After the mess was cleaned up, I put Max in the living room to play so I could work on dinner and the laundry pile that was beginning to resemble Mt. Everest. But immediately, Max started fussing. I looked at Chad and said, “This is NOT my favorite day, I’m really frustrated and I think my head may pop off.”
He responded,singing in perfect tune, “Lean on me… when you’re not strong… I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on….”
Oh thank goodness I married comic relief. Again, I laughed. And laughed some more. And headed to the kitchen to conquer the night.
The child was relentless- fussing and squealing the rest of the night. But it wasn’t until I was cleaning out his high chair after dinner that it hit me– I’ve been a bad mom this week. I haven’t sat once to play with him, I haven’t sat down once to teach him something, I haven’t even been singing our good morning song when I get him out of his crib first thing or singing about body parts and animals on the farm as we drove. Max was acting out because he needed my attention. And I was frustrated because I didn’t have any attention to give him.
We did make it to bed time without my head popping off. I tucked him in, with our normal routine, and shut his door, expecting not to hear from him again until the morning- which is his norm. But immediately, he started screaming. As in bloody murder. Chad and I looked at each other with eyebrows raised and I went back in. He was standing at the edge of his bed with his arms out towards me. I picked him up and cuddled him into my chest and immediately he fell asleep. I stood there for a few more minutes, thinking about the work I needed to do and get to my boss, and again, feeling frustrated. I laid him down in his bed, and again, SCREAMING!
So I picked him up, cuddled him in, and he went right back to catching some zzzz’s. I sat down in the rocking chair and rocked and rocked and rocked… and before long there were tears rolling down my cheeks. But I wasn’t mad this time, or overwhelmed and flustered– I was crying because it took the 11 month old to remind me that this was what life was about- tasks could wait- but it’s the people all around me that God has called me to– and cuddling up my favorite little baby in the whole entire world was the ONLY thing I needed to be doing right then.
My heart melted, and all of a sudden, I was very content with where God has me right now- I can be a mom and friend at the same time, because He called me to both. Thank you God for using the little things (both literally and figuratively) to remind me how precious life is!