I dug through the cabinet for the biggest skillet I could find as you loped into the room, stretching one arm high, while the other adjusted glasses over tired eyes. I didn’t blame you one bit for heading straight to make coffee– little sounds better, other than more sleep, when little people wake you so early.
As I set the grease to sizzling and you passed a bowl of dry Cheerios to the baby, the toddler showed up, wanting his milk. You turned from the Keurig and poured it into a sippy cup– the green one!!!, as he demanded– and then reached for a second mug.
We chit-chatted as I poured eggs and tortilla strips in the pan, comfortable with you and comfortable working in your kitchen.
The preschooler arrived. She wanted milk, too, but she’d only drink it with chocolate. You mixed it, passed the purplicious princess cup, and rolled a crick out of your neck.
The toddler was back.
Once content with his white milk, he now wanted chocolate, too. So you remedied that.
Finally, with everyone seemingly content, you turned back to your coffee mug only to realize you’d forgotten to push the button on the machine.
With a laugh-sigh combo, you jammed the button with a skinny index finger and closed your eyes as the burbling bubbling brewing kicked in.
And then the baby was at your feet.
She held a bag of lollipops she had gotten from the pantry. She looked triumphant. At one, she is utterly fearless and capable and she is ready to take on the world. This time, she had taken on the shelves and She.Had.Won.
“No, no,” you murmured gently, “it’s too early for lollipops. We haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
Undeterred, she thrusted the bag up. “POP!” she exclaimed, and the joy was almost palpable in her voice.
“Not yet,” you repeated. “Maybe after our breakfast.”
Mutiny broke across those tender features and she gave the bag a solid yank.
Lollipops were everywhere.
Her mouth formed a surprised O as she waited to see what you’d do. Taking advantage of your temporary shock, she nabbed a tiny green lollipop and took off like a flash.
Not surprisingly, her siblings showed up soon thereafter and helped themselves, too.
* * * * * * * * * * *
I want you to know that I saw the look on your face.
I saw your eyes dart to the side as you (finally!) grasped your mug of steaming coffee and poured in a heavy glug of flavored creamer.
And I know you were wondering what I was thinking.
So here you go. Here’s what I was honestly thinking, mama who gave her babies lollipops before 7 AM…
I was thinking that this is one morning of one day and one decision that doesn’t define who you are one bit.
Would I make a regular habit of serving candy before breakfast? Of course not.
But, then again, neither would you.
You know I know that, right?
Sweet mama, you do not deserve to have your mothering measured by a single, overwhelming moment. What a frightening thought that is! Just imagine if people were basing the quality of my parenting on isolated events…
… on the times I turn a blind eye while my husband lets them steal sips of his Crystal Light.
… on the morning when, after having a bit too much birthday wine, I let them all watch, what, six, seven, maybe eight? episodes of My Little Pony, just so I could nurse my aching head.
… on all the times when, out of anger and sadness and mostly fear, I yelled as my means of communication. YELLED. At those tender little faces.
… on the day I remembered my travel mug, but forgot the wipes and had to use damp, brown paper towels to clean a messy bottom.
… on the nights I’ve woken to an accident in a child’s bed and thrown a towel on it rather than change the sheets.
… on all the bribes, the giving in, the checking out, the copping out, the less-than-stellar choices.
Precious lady, mothering these three beautiful souls…
It’s not a measuring stick.
It’s just a lollipop.
And we’ve all been there.