If you were to spot me and my kids out and about on any given Saturday morning, you’d see the following: my three-year-old either lying on the floor or antagonizing his brother; my almost five-year-old touching things when I have told him not to a million times not to or bumping into people totally unaware of his surroundings; and my 11-year-old lost in thought as the chaos unfolds around us. You’d also see me likely on the verge of raising my voice and unsuccessfully trying to get my kids to behave by threatening no dessert with dinner that evening. We get looks and judgments from people, I am sure.
It didn’t start this way though.
Some mornings, I think: “I’ll take my boys out shopping today. Then, we can grab a nice lunch. It will be a good bonding time for us since I don’t see them too much during the week and will make nice memories of shopping with Mommy.” In other words, I fully plan for things to go smoothly, apparently forgetting about the many other days in which they don’t. In those moments, I think: “Maybe today will be different. Maybe everyone will behave. Maybe I’ll have more patience.”
But things aren’t any different. In fact, it’s a different day, but the same story.
Similarly, this occurs when we take trips and vacations. I have an idealized vision in my head of how vacation should go and how appreciative the kids will be that we are taking them on trips and vacations. But they still fight and don’t listen and aren’t always grateful. But again, that doesn’t stop me from planning more trips and vacations.
I think this is partially due to my brain changing memories, something I learned a lot about in my undergrad cognitive psychology class. I may be stressed coming home that afternoon and thinking that I am not taking them out to stores again for a long time, but as time goes on, the negatives of that experience seem to diminish and maybe the memory even combines a bit with the idealized versions in my brain of how the day should go.
But beyond that, I keep taking my kids out for other reasons. They are still young and they are still learning. Regardless of their flaws or my flaws, even these chaotic memories will become cherished. My parents are in California and one of the things I miss most when I am missing them are the little things, like running random errands together.