Even the Bad Ones

It was just about 11:30 last night, and I was curled up on the couch in my comfiest sweatpants with Rocco on my lap, a mug of lemon ginger tea in my hands, Marty the Menace puppy sleeping at my feet, and Will & Grace entertaining me from my DVR. I was FINALLY alone, relaxed, and-

Wait, wait. No. Sorry. That had been the plan; but we all know how “planning” goes.

What I was ACTUALLY doing at 11:30 last night was standing in the almost-empty parking lot of a 24hr CVS pharmacy, leaning into the backseat of my Kia Sportage, reaching towards a very sleepy Grace with a syringe full of Augmentin.

“Is it yummy or yucky, Mommy?”

“Hmmm, let’s see…it smells like berries, so it’s probably ok. But even if it’s yucky, it’s going to make your ear feel so much better, so you should probably take it.”

“….Ok. I’ll take it…..oh, that was kinda yucky, Mommy.”

You know what else was yucky?

The fact that I was still stuck in the dress I had pulled over my head at 6am. The fact that I was hungry and thirsty but all I had in the car were mints and ½ a cup of lukewarm water. The fact that my strapless bra was cutting into my ribs after almost 18 hours of clinging to them.

It was all decidedly yucky.

When you have kids, someone will inevitably tell you to “enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.” They will most likely tell you this when you’re deeply entrenched in your “new parent” stupor, so it won’t fully register. And then somewhere down the line, during one of those bad moments- say, standing in a dark, empty CVS parking lot at 11:30pm in a short dress and sandals, calculating how fast you could throw an elbow, get your 3 year-old out of the car and run if someone leapt out of the shadows and attacked- bam, you’ll remember it.

“Enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.”

You’ll wipe your Augmentin-covered fingers  all over your dress (because those stupid syringes ALWAYS leak), and you’ll think about how you had to get up early to beat the back-to-college traffic on the way to work that morning. And you’ll count how many sibling arguments you broke up (“This song is MY jam, not yours!”) while sitting in the hour of traffic that you didn’t, in fact, avoid at all.

You’ll remember inhaling a plate of old pasta with a can of tuna tossed into it at your desk, and then using your lunch hour to run an errand, because your life is not your own once you pull into the daycare parking lot after work.

You’ll recall rushing through dinner (after an hour of traffic and sibling arguments on the way home); wrenching your back when one kid leaned away from you while you were rinsing her hair in the bath; cleaning pee off the bathroom floor when the other kid didn’t quite make it into the bowl; and then getting into an argument with your husband when he declares he gets “no help around here.”

You’ll think about how you absently opened the fridge mid-argument, bats flew out, and you stormed out of the house in tears to go food shopping at a Trader Joe’s 20 minutes away, even though ShopRite is 5 minutes away, because Trader Joe’s has the vegan, gluten free breakfast bars that everyone in the house can digest without very, very bad things happening.

You’ll think back to lugging 8 bags of groceries through the front door while 1 dog danced through your ankles and the other goosed you (I told you it was a pretty short dress).

You’ll fondly remember FINALLY taking off your shoes, stretching out on your son’s bed and beginning your journey into the world of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban…only to abruptly leave Daigon Alley and leap off the bed when an ear-splitting scream escaped from behind your daughter’s bedroom door.

And you’ll laugh to yourself, because in that moment, remembering all the moments leading up to it, it will be almost impossible to “enjoy” anything besides the thought of falling on your face- because 1. You’re so close to falling on your face at this point and 2. If you did, at least you’d be unconscious and not have to deal with all this shit.

And so that’s what I was doing around 11:30 last night.

And then I looked at Grace, and she smiled at me.

Exhausted, hungry, and afflicted with underwire-induced rib bruising though I was, I couldn’t help but stop and look at her- like REALLY look at her.

Her impossibly tiny lips and round nose. One perfect ringlet of hair flopped between her eyebrows. Her still-slightly-chubby toddler fingers, one grasping the handle of her lollipop, the other holding tightly to 4 Paw Patrol stickers- the rewards of sitting through a doctor’s appointment at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night.

“Enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.”

There is a very obvious glow that surrounds the good moments- family vacations, holidays, birthday parties. But there is also a subtle beauty to the bad ones, if you really look for it.

And as I squinted in the dimly-lit CVS parking lot, I saw it.

Last night was, as Grace so honestly described it, yucky. But being with her was decidedly un-yucky.

As we drove along the quiet highways en route to our hastily-scheduled appointment, I had whispered, “Gracie Girl, it’s going to be alright. Mommy will make it better,” and I had peeked in the mirror to see a small smile through her tears.

In the waiting room, she had rested her tired head on my chest while I inhaled the scent of coconut shampoo lingering in her floppy little curls.

While we drove to the pharmacy we had chatted about our favorite Paw Patrol dogs, the best lollipop flavors, and how nice it was going to be to get into our pajamas and snuggle under our blankets when we got home.

She had chatted with me while I showered, and announced that we should bring her sleeping bag to my room because “sleeping with you will make me feel better.”

And as I leaned down to kiss her goodnight she had whispered, “I feel better, Mommy.”

“I told you I’d make it all better, didn’t I?”

“Yup…you’re the best of the mommies.”

Did I want to split my time last night between a sterile-smelling urgent care waiting room and a mugger’s paradise parking lot?

No.

Do I wish my poor kid didn’t suffer from these eardrum explosions?

Of course.

Did I look forward to getting 2 kids ready for summer camp and then going to work to attend a 30-person retirement lunch I’d been planning, all on less than 3 hours’ sleep?

I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.

But even on a decidedly yucky night, there was…good.

So unfortunately, I have to tell you something that may piss you off at some future point in time- but just hear me out.

Enjoy every moment…even the bad ones.

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