“You’re so hipster.”
If you are a mother who prides herself on being countercultural, this statement stings a little. I proceeded to shoot my husband the look.
“Well, you are wearing a fedora.”
Truth. Earlier that day, I had purchased my very first non-winter – dare I say fashionable – hat. It seemed like the perfect item to hide my exhaustion long enough to survive an evening of carnival fun in my hometown.
Only I didn’t plan for the rain.
To say that parents feel pressure to make their children’s days magical is an understatement. An incredible understatement.
During a recent visit to my parents’ home, I felt accomplished by our collective adventures: two parks, two great-grandmother visits, two lunches out, and a day of pool fun. What could be better? Well, when you are a modern mother, there is always this nagging sense that you can do better – more fun is waiting around the corner if you persevere and seek it out. When I learned that the carnival would overlap with our stay by one day, I had no choice. I must take the children.
Looking back, I can’t actually recall how I expected our evening to look. Perhaps a perfect mother-son photo could be taken on the carousel? Well, we rode the carousel (one of our only rides that night), but the pictures reflected the true reality of my son’s first carnival ride: Please don’t puke, honey, please don’t puke.
Maybe it was the annoying fog of cigarette smoke, but the rest of our time was a blur of unsuccessfully persuading my son to step out of his comfort zone. After all, wasn’t the point to create an amazing experience for him? I tried to contain my disappointment until I saw a fast moving summer storm headed our way.
With his invisible jetpacks activated, my husband launched into a full sprint with my daughter’s stroller. My mother’s decision, painfully wise in retrospect, was to take shelter at a nearby food stand. I, Super Mom, looked the storm in the eye as I ran furiously with a frightened toddler in arms. Couldn’t I just have a moment’s peace to wallow?
At the halfway point to our destination (our car), the blinding drops grew too intense. I could see that my husband had made it to the car. My son and I found respite beneath a nearby tree. My phone, clothes, and, yes, fedora were soaked.
When I finally resurfaced as the mature adult a few minutes later, I leaned back to study my son’s eyes. Would he see me as a failure?
“We made it to the last tree, Mommy!” For the next hour, long after we had stripped ourselves of my bad decision, a little boy reminded us all that real adventure in life lies in our response to discomfort.
As it turns out, sometimes the sage doesn’t wear the fedora.
A night at the carnival challenged me in an important way. My children will remember how I showed them love vs. how I attempted to orchestrate their lives. Sometimes, no matter how high our hopes, it will rain.
But, if you are very lucky, the small child under the tree will only recall the shelter he found in the arms of a hipster wannabe called Mom.