Monday, March 7, 2011

Hippopotamus vs. The Bathing Suit

Children may be small, think fecal matter is fun to squish, and laugh hysterically at loud toots, but...sometimes they can be wise beyond their years and offer sage advice far beyond their vertical stature.

It's true. And often times, those insightful moments can be the most humbling few seconds of my day.

I am not a perfect mom. 

I get frustrated with small things.  
Spilled milk. 
Lost socks. 
Small feet that move slowly.  

Angry with learning moments. 

I am an average mom. 
Laundry piles high above my head. 
I clean inconsistently. 
Some days I let the kids watch way too much TV. 
I seek out alone time when it would be an ideal chance to be with my little ones. 

I sweat the small stuff. 
I cry in front of my kids. 
I yell when I shouldn't.  
I can feel helpless, ineffective, a failure.  

I do one thing really well.  I love my kids.  I adore my kids.  But they are not perfect either.  Who wants to be perfect anyway?  It's our imperfections, our ability to recognize our flaws, that makes us real.  It makes us humble.  It makes us better....better moms, dads, kids, people.

When I have a "could have been a better mommy" moment, I say I'm sorry.  I swallow my pride, go to my kids, hold their hands and say, "I'm sorry. I should have tried to use my patience.  Just like I ask you to do.  I'll try harder next time."  And they say, "Mommy, you don't have to be sorry.  You are a great mommy, the best mommy.  We love you so much." 

Their capacity to love and to forgive is breathtaking. 

Yesterday, Max and I took the kids swimming.  It was one of those family days.  The kind that build memories.  We had just submerged ourselves into the lukewarm indoor pool water.  It was cold.  Indoor pools always are.  My 4-year-old baby girl immediately says, "I have to poop."  Of course.

I take her hand and we climb out of the water and shake, shiver and chatter our way to the locker rooms.  I help her pull down her suit and we wait while she quickly does her business.  I am so cold.  I just want to get back in the pool and continue making family memories.  So, I try to hurry it up by quickly pulling her suit back on.

Unfortunately, wet bathing suits do not go back on "quickly."  It is a slow, laborious process of inching the suit back on. And the cheaper the suit, the longer it takes. 

My patience begins to slip. Maybe it's that time of the month.  Or the fact that my blood is freezing in my veins.  Or the fact that my precious middle child is the one who is never in a hurry. The one who often counteracts my attempts at hurrying her by swinging on door knobs when we're late for the bus, or changing her shoes, shirt and hairstyle when everyone else is waiting in the car. 

I start to yank the suit back in place and exasperated say, "This is so hard!"

She looks up at me with her beautiful, brown eyes.  "You are so right, Mommy.  This is really hard.  But not as hard as picking up two hippopotamuses."

I stop my fruitless tugging.  She is so right.  Really, not much in life is harder than picking up two hippopotamuses.  I hug her fiercely.  Tell her I love her.  Then gently begin pulling the suit back in place, like I would a pair of nylons.  It really wasn't that difficult.

Hand in hand, we walk back to the pool, shaking, shivering and chattering.  And filled up the rest of our day with the kind of memories that make up a family.



  1. That girls a genius! Your kids are hilarious!

  2. I love your posts because they make me laugh and cry all at the same time. It is so amazing how the most precious memories are made in those moments we often try to rush through. I am so thankful for all the times my kids have reminded me to stop and smell the roses!

  3. Awwww, I have never thought of that, but I'm pretty sure NOTHING compares to picking up 2 Hippos. Great post! Precious little girl! Laughing and Crying --- oh, and so glad Max is back from Timbucktoo!

  4. What a great perspective!! I'll have to remember that one when my life gets tough.... like daily. :) Love the blog!

  5. Wow, loved it! You do make us moms feel better about ourselves:)

  6. Great blog Melissa! You said it perfectly too (as always... such a great story teller!). And being perfect wouldn't be good either. Because then we wouldn't have those opportunities to tell our kids we are sorry and showing them everyone messes up. I just love that girl. Her mind is always spinning. That's the extreme optimism I love! Nothing is harder then picking up two hippos! :) Love it!

  7. So sweet and so true. One of the most important things we show our kids is being able to say I'm sorry to them. As adults we expect apologies from our kids but do we also apologize when we get worked up and yell about something? They practice what they see and you are teaching them some wonderful things!