On Messing Up and Finding Joy


Yesterday I messed up.

Every other Tuesday, Tate and I pack ourselves up after we take Lucy to school and we head to what Tate calls “playgroup.” Actually, it’s a moms group that I joined this year, which meets twice monthly to learn from each other and from experts on this strange phenomenon called parenting. We’ve had speakers ranging from brain scientists to school superintendents, and I truly value these meetings, not only for the learning that occurs, but the fellowship. There is something awesome about getting a bunch of moms together in one room and admitting we are all just trying to figure this thing out. While I’m in class, Tate goes to a fun playroom for an hour or two, and he loves it. “Playgroup” days are some of his favorite days.

Anyway, with the holidays and whatnot, our schedule is a bit off and we haven’t had “playgroup” in over a month. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that this Tuesday was our first meeting of 2015, so after Lulu was at school, I got us all packed and pumped up for a fun morning at “playgroup.”

I signed Tate in using the computer at the childcare entrance, and that’s when I noticed things were off. We saw his teacher from school, who was meeting with her group that day, and we both remarked how funny it was that we had never seen each other there before (ahem, because she goes to a different group on a different day…). When I checked Tate in, the childcare people couldn’t find him on the roster, but I assumed it was because he had a birthday and would now be in a different room. The leader kindly said, “Are you sure you have the right day? Sometimes the schedules get mixed up after the holidays.” Of course I had the right day! Right? Hmmm.

After I dropped Tate off I started to question myself. And sure enough, when I checked my calendar, I had the wrong day. I was off by a week. So I had to embarrassingly go back to childcare and admit my mistake, then make my super-confused 4-year-old leave the “playgroup” where he was having a blast. “Mama! Why? We just got here! I want to go to playgroup!!!” He cried and pleaded, and the teachers kindly told me this happens all the time, but I was beating myself up. How could I not check my calendar? God, I’m an idiot! What must Tate’s teacher think? This is the same one that had to deal with him when I “forgot” about the Halloween party and he was the only kid not in a costume, crying about missing out on the fun. She must think I’m such a dope.

We left and were headed home, when I saw the beautiful, colored glass of the new natural history museum on the side of the road. I pulled a u-turn and headed into the empty parking lot. We’d been meaning to visit, but since it’s a new facility, it’s been pretty crowded, and I had been warned it wasn’t worth the wait in line. But on this day, a random, cold Tuesday morning in January, the parking lot was empty. I asked Tate if he wanted to go in and he wiped his tears. For $15, we had the entire museum to ourselves. I watched my son learn and grow, delighted with the exhibits and the discovery center. The sweet ladies working there catered to his every need, letting him hold animals and helping him create constellations in the astronomy room. It was an unforgettable morning.

When I first started staying at home more with my kids, I made time for these kinds of experiences. I still do, but lately I’ve found myself a slave to my overscheduling. Starting my new business venture means many times when I’m home with the kids, I’d rather let them watch some cartoons while I get some work done. I have errands to run and calls to make, and sometimes my kids end up an afterthought. I haven’t been practicing my greatest role, being a teacher and a mother to them. That’s the whole reason for all of this madness in the first place. Sure, I want to have a fulfilling career, but I also want to be able to spend more time with my kids.


Had I checked my calendar that morning, and realized we had nothing planned, I’m sorry to say Tate probably would’ve ended up watching the iPad and then going to the grocery store or on another errand with me. The day would’ve quickly gone by without much time for fun. But instead, I made a mistake, and we ended up spending the morning as paleontologists, astronomers and biologists. Mistakes breed wonder, especially when we’re not expecting it. So instead of beating myself up, I’m forgiving myself for my mistake and finding joy in the journey we end up taking when we don’t realize where we are going.

{All images taken with the iPhone 6 and edited in the Afterlight app}

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