Content to Live My Life as the “It Could Be Worse!” Example

It’s amazing how becoming a mom rearranges your priorities. I used to be so self-conscious. Now I relish embarrassing my children whenever possible, and they aren’t even teenagers yet!

And do you know what the strangest thing is? Somehow this anti- self-consciousness has evolved into really, truly not minding when I am the embodiment of the “It could be worse!” phenomenon. I’m surprised I haven’t ended up on one of those Buzzfeed “People who are having a worse day than you” lists. {Well, the day isn’t over yet.}

For instance.

Oh, you want an example? How many times have I carried a screaming child out of a store, pharmacy, dressing room, restaurant… The list goes on. I see the pitying looks from other people, especially from other parents. Older people remember those days and possibly even, in an odd way, miss them. Parents with children older than mine remember those days a little too well, and are currently in a different phase of parenting difficulty. Younger parents with tiny children know that those days are coming all too soon.

It could be worse
That pterodactyl at the preschool Christmas program? It was mine.

How about a more specific instance?

Exhibit A

A few days ago I had just pulled up to the speaker to place our order at a McDonald’s drive-thru and my 4-year-old son’s nose started bleeding. Like, fire hydrant bleeding. Cue a screaming, frightened 4-year-old who refuses to hold a napkin to his nose. A screaming, frantic 6-year-old sister who doesn’t want the blood to get on her. A screaming, frightened 2-year-old sister who is upset that everyone is screaming.

And a screaming, angry Mommy in the front seat, explaining to the person through the speaker that it’s going to be a minute. Throwing open the sliding door, yelling at the 4yo to put the napkin on his nose and stop spurting blood all over the car. Trying to be calm when I explain that screaming is only going to make it bleed faster.

Then, when we get everything back on track and order and get to the first window, the napkin is soaked and he TAKES. IT. OFF.

Without anything to replace it.

I’m pretty sure those drive-thru employees were thinking, “Thank goodness I don’t have kids.” Or maybe, “Thank goodness my children never do that.” And quite possibly, “I know I would handle that better.”

Exhibit B

Three days a week, taking my aforementioned 4-year-old to preschool and then picking him up three hours later, my 2-year-old sociopath is with me.

Let me elaborate on this sociopath. She is adorable. She has the world’s teeniest nose. She often has picture-perfect pigtails in her hair. My mom knitted her the most adorable hood/hat that has bear ears. She is as cute as a button.

Until she growls at you.

The other preschool parents are growing accustomed to her shenanigans, I hope. They still very kindly greet her, hoping that they will receive a more socially acceptable response. Hope springs eternal.

It could be worse
These pictures will be cherished keepsakes later in life, right? Because they will remind us how life really was?

And at the grocery store, every sweet little old woman pushing a cart past us stops to talk to the cute little girl in my cart. They are so kind and wonderful. Then, she mean-mugs them. I’m talking about the nastiest facial expression imaginable. Sometimes she swings her arm like she’s going to sock them in the mouth. {Luckily, her arms are approximately 8 inches long, so this isn’t actually an assault.}

I’m trying with every ounce of stubbornness in myself to remember that these days are going to be gone before I know it. I’m singing that Darius Rucker song to myself, but at the same time, I’m very much looking forward to the next phase when she won’t be growling at perfect strangers.

Exhibit C

The scene is a karate studio. My then-5-year-old daughter had been begging for karate lessons for a year. We were finally doing it, and she was so excited she was ready to jump out of her skin.

I had braided her hair so it wouldn’t get in her way. She had on loose clothing because it was her first class and she didn’t have a uniform yet.

She did beautifully. She was by far the smallest person in the class, but she paid close attention and did everything that the master asked.

I was just about to pat myself on the back and congratulated myself on what a great mom I was, when…

The class was over and the students were leaving the floor. Except, 5-Year-Old forgot to bow before stepping off. The master softly reminded her that they must turn and bow before they leave.

She was embarrassed.

And that, my friends, is all it took. There were tears. There was a child climbing up my body and trying to disappear into my hair, apparently.

We did try to take her back for a second lesson. But the damage was done. She was embarrassed. So, obviously, she could never show her face there again. I sat and entertained her two younger siblings through another lesson and a half, picking her up and depositing her back in the middle of the floor in front of the master several times, listening to her distract the class with her sobbing, placating her however I could, even threatening her with outlandish things that I could never actually do. Nothing worked.

Thus ended our illustrious career as a karate family.

Please tell me I’m not the only “It could be worse!” mom out there.

Are you in the trenches of motherhood? Do you have a pint-sized sociopath in your grocery cart? Do you often feel like you should be on Candid Camera?

Please take a deep breath, treat yourself to a caramel macchiato, and be assured that you are not alone.


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