~ Note to Self ~

Note to self : Someday be the mom who has it all together.

I love being a mom, mothering is in my nature. Taking care of little ones, feeding, diapering, loving, hugging, all of those things just bring a wash of peace over me. I feel like it's one of the only things in the world that makes sense and feels natural to me.

Truth be told I am petrified of the day these kids don't need me anymore. When they can tie their own shoes, take their own showers, and (gulp) drive themselves places. I start to have a mini-panic attack just thinking of not having a baby in this house.

I told Jimmy we should just keep on going and get our own reality show- "Jim and Kel plus 12" has a ring to it, right?

Last week I took my kids to a park. It was a gorgeous day and the park was packed. Luckily, there was one baby swing left vacant and I quickly plopped Libby Lu down so I could give her some pushes while trying to keep an eye on my 2 older ones who are dodging and weaving amongst about 20 other kids.

Next to me on the swing is a mom who only has 1 child. How do I know she only had one? You can pick out these mamas a mile a way. She has her adorable daughter in the baby swing next to Libby Lu. Her baby is carefully guarded, sitting on one of those huge covers to make sure no swing germs are getting on her baby... She has an adorable little bonnet to keep her little face from the sun... She has some kind of pack around her waist armed with sunscreen, organic baby snacks and some sort of sanitizing wipes.

I'm not discounting mothers who only have one child as if it's easy, it's not easy, at all. Sometimes I think having one was harder than 3. But I definitely had a little more control of my life back then. I can't help but smile as I remember those days so well, when it was just me and Rocky and how badly I strived to be the perfect mother and how proud of myself I was to waltz around fully prepared for anything.

I have to break from my daydream momentarily to notice Libby Lu nearly going blind from the direct sun in her face. She is missing a sock and sucking on the nasty metal swing chains. I can only imagine what this woman thinks of me. But actually, she was very nice- we had great conversation and she said many times "I don't know how you do it," as I would multi-task pushing the little one in the swing, retying Luci's shoe, and breaking up an argument between Rocky and some other boy.

We had been there a whopping 5 minutes when Luci ran up and begged me to go to the bathroom. The bathroom is within walking distance, but not close enough where I could just leave my other 2 there and only take Luci.

So I round up my troops, with Libby Lu on my hip because if I strap her back in she will freak out and think we are going home, schlepping along our stroller with a wonky wheel, all while the underwire of my bra is poking into the side of me trying to drill a hole in my boob.

We get to a bathroom and it's locked...with a big sign that says "CLOSED." -
What?!?! Closed?!?! Are you crazy?!?! That's it! I start to get mad...We are NOT leaving...we just got here... "Luci, pull down your pants behind this bush" I command to her. There, with all 3 of my kids, Luci "popped her very first squat." Rocky and Luci both thought it was hilarious. Luci was laughing so hard I am almost sure she peed on herself somewhere.

Crisis averted... bladder empty... back to the park. I had to do the "walk of shame" past some of the moms who knew exactly what I just did. But one of them gave me a wink like "You gotta do what you gotta do."

Fast forward 20 minutes later, back in the baby swings with Libby Lu, and the nice perfect mom and her perfect baby. Mid-conversation about God-knows-what, the woman says "Um...that's your daughter, right?" She pointed to the corner of the playground where I spot Luci...pants and underwear at her ankles, teeny tiny bare buttcheeks in the air and grunting.

I shreik, "Luci... WHAT are you doing?" (Bad idea to ask that out loud) - she replies "I'm Pooping in the bush" only she is not in a bush... she is ON THE PLAYGROUND with a rubber matted floor!

I sprinted to her as fast as I could, picked her up in one swoop, and thank you sweet baby JESUS she hadn't actually "gone" yet. I mean, it's one thing to poop scoop after your dog in the park, but your kid? Come on...

So I threw in the towel- "Manno Kids, let's go!" No one listens except Libby Lu who has no choice, and Luci is now in a heap on the ground crying because she can't poop in the bush. Rocky is acting like he can't hear me, so I try the big dramatic stomp off: "I'm leaaaavingggg youuuuu!" That doesn't work, but somehow by the grace of God I got all 3 kids loaded up and we made it home.

I drove home thinking about those early days when I was the perfect mom...or at least I thought I was... I tried to be. With Rocky, I read those baby books front to back. I did every single thing they told me to. I was determined to be the mom who "had it all together," but really what does "having it all together" mean?

When people ask me how I balance everything...the kids, the husband, the business...I always say I don't balance...I juggle. We all juggle. We all have a handful of balls that are always in the air, things that are important to us...for me it's my kids, my husband, my faith, my friends, my business...sometimes a ball drops, and that's okay, you gotta pick it up and get it back into the rotation.

So maybe that day I didn't have it all together. I didn't bring any hand wipes or organic cracker snacks. Libby Lu's clothes didn't match and Luci tried to take a dump on the floor. But we lived, we survived, and I did better the next day. That's the greatest gift of motherhood, kids are resilient forgiving, and there is always tomorrow.

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