In which we lose before we win.

It has been a long, long weekend. The entire month of November has served only as a reminder that not every month tries its hardest to beat me into the ground( even if this one did), but now it is December, and I am determined to find my center. Except not today.

I over slept today, and forgot about Judah’s speech therapy appointment. Joe and I gift shopped for the kids, but I left feeling like I had just spent a bunch of money on things I was going to yell at them to put away, or end up donating in six months time when they had forgotten they existed.

The kids were pummeling my very last nerve from ‘Go’, but I still tried to take them to Phipps Conservatory to salvage the afternoon, and then rushed Sam to his occupational therapy appointment. It was 5:30pm when he told me definitively “I do not want to go to Target with you.” and because I was as close to home as I was to the store, I drove home, and swapped kids.

Sam stayed home and Marilyn came to Target with me, assaulting me with approximately 45 questions before the sliding door of the minivan had closed.

Inside Target (did you hear the Angels chorusing just now? They love when I come in. Dollar signs replace the pupils of their eyes.) we did our regular loop. Inspect the dollar bins, bypass the juniors, women’s and men’s sections and head straight for the good stuff. Toys, home dΓ©cor, kids clothes. We are somewhere down our 4500th aisle when Marilyn looks up horror-struck and asks me the dreaded question.

Mommy? Where is Luna?

Luna is her stuffed hamster who she calls a guinea pig, and she has carried her around 24/7 since she received her several weeks ago. Luna is the prized possession that causes outrage when Judah lays his hands on her. Luna has starred in nearly every photo of Marilyn since she was gifted to her, who sleeps in her bed at night, who waits patiently on her pillow for her return from school. In short, Luna is pretty damn important around these parts lately. And losing her was a big deal.

I wish I had been empathetic when this question was hyperventilated past my ears, but I wasn’t. I snapped “Are you kidding me? Why can’t you be responsible for your things? Luna is your responsibility Marilyn! Someone probably picked her up! She is probably long gone!” and even the rush of tears to Marilyn’s eyes could not stop my stupid mouth from admonishing her.

All I wanted to do was run to Target and get creamer for my coffee, plates for Judah’s birthday and maybe stare stupidly at the candles and try to remember when last I had filled a shopping cart of things purely for my pleasure instead of someone else’s.

Instead I spent forty minutes. Forty. Minutes. Re-tracing our steps. Cart area, dollar bins, customer service, kids clothing section, every aisle of the toy area, to where the groceries were, to the art section, birthday gift wrap, nothing. Back to the customer service section where we left our number, checked the lost and found, and retraced our steps again.

All the while I am telling Marilyn that it is her responsibility to look after her things and getting more and more angry. Why is it that I can’t just look hard enough to find Luna? If I just loop one more time, surely she will be there lying on the floor of one of the aisles. But she isn’t.

I check out, Marilyn has her head down, and I know she is crying.

“She’s gone.” I say. “I don’t know what to tell you.”
“You could tell me that you aren’t mad at me….” she sniffles. “Because you know it was an accident.”

It was then that I realized she was crying as much because of my reaction as she was because Luna was lost.

“I am not mad at you Marilyn, and I do know it was an accident. I’m sorry I lost my temper.” We walked to the car while my frustration at not finding Luna evolved into frustration with myself.

“You know, Marilyn, sometimes I just want to fix what is wrong, so that you are happy, because it makes me sad to see you sad. But I am not mad at you, I am mad that we couldn’t find Luna.”

I buckled her into her carseat, still hoping that maybe she had left the stuffed animal in the car, but that was not the case. I started to drive home and then pulled into Bakery Square, to the Learning Express. We walked in, and I said to her;

“Look! Here is a mouse! Maybe he can keep you company until Luna finds her way home.”

Marilyn was ecstatic.

“I always wanted a mouse!” she exclaimed. “I will call him Luna 2. And I promise I will not lose him. I will never, ever, ever lose him.” and then after thinking for a while she said “But if I do lose him, maybe next time you will replace him with a rabbit? A real rabbit? With a pink bow whose nails I can paint?”

Because for Marilyn, nothing is bad for long, and I still have the ability to shift the world back into its proper orbit. I have that power for myself, also. A parenting fail is only a fail so long as I mark it in that column. Not every lesson needs to shatter the Earth, sometimes a deep breath, (a load of inside-my-head-curse-words), and a really ugly-cute stuffed mouse can turn a L into a W. Sometimes feeling better is just enough to be enough.

4 thoughts on “In which we lose before we win.

  1. Ah, the joys of kids and words we say that really shouldn’t have been said. How many times I have seen Sebastian well up in tears after something I say. I wonder if that can count as my superpower?

  2. Oooohhh… I can definitely empathise with the misplacement of a prized plush toy companion! And the time spent hunting for it, retracing steps. And the anger and resentment. And the berating of the child. I really felt for you in this post! Hope your January turns out sweeter.

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