“Mom, the baby likes it when I spit on her!” I could do little but inwardly sigh. We were on our first outing as “mom friends”; I didn’t know Ali very well, and I was just sure that after this trip I wouldn’t get the opportunity to get to know her better. After all, my child was spitting on her child. Granted, Story’s version of spitting was blowing raspberries, and Riley did, in fact, seem to like it. But still.
Cruising up highway 37, I kept a close watch on the speedometer. If I went over the speed limit, would Ali think I was endangering her child? I looked in the rearview mirror to check on Story’s behavior, praying she wasn’t she still spitting on the baby. But she wasn’t there! My heart stopped for the agonizing full second and a half it took to remember that I had moved her car seat from the middle to the side to make room for Riley’s car seat. Just as I had started to normalize, I heard a click and a roar. An alarm flashed on my dashboard. Story had opened her door. With visions of children being sucked from the backseat as though out of a plane, I pulled over to a too-quick stop on the shoulder. “Story!” I yelled. I’m not sure what else came out of my mouth, but I didn’t dare face Ali’s eyes, which I just knew had to be full of judgment. What she must have thought of me!
The girls were hungry. I won good-mom points this time: I had packed a snack. Of course, Ali had too. All was quiet for a minute or two, and then Riley made a little sound. She was gesturing for Story’s Goldfish. Story was quick to interpret: “Riley said she doesn’t want any of my Goldfish, and I can have them all.” Riley disagreed. Story refused to share. I spoke harshly. There was much grumbling. And then we were finally there: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
Trepidation overwhelmed me; this was a bad idea. And I was right to worry. Story ran away from me several times, refused to leave the Dinosphere, had a meltdown like I’d never witnessed, would not share toys (or space), and had no patience for the things Riley wanted to look at. What was worse was my attitude. I was so worried about what Ali would think, I acted like a different person, and the result was failure. I failed to experience the wonders with my daughter and share her joy; I failed to get to know Ali in any real way, and I failed to show Riley how much fun I can really be.
As we were leaving, Ali, seemingly oblivious to my utter shame, announced, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. We only had a few meltdowns!” I looked at her in disbelief, but she had a genuine smile. That’s when I knew that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Lessons learned: Always bring more than one baggie of Goldfish. Always engage the child locks. Always anticipate a meltdown. And always, always stay true to yourself and your child.
Now, let’s hear from you! What are some of your mom friend stories?