I went to the grocery store tonight. I dragged my exhausted, nauseated body, along with the underwear-less body of my two-and-a-half-year old. Because, you know, Mama's love is like gravity to a toddler, doesn't matter how Mama is feeling.
(The underwear-less-ness wasn't discovered until we'd left the house and driven across town, by the way. I add it for comedic effect. And because anyone who's ever known a toddler will empathize. I mean, I get it. Going bra-less is basically like living my best life. Many ways to spell F-R-E-E-D-O-M. Also, she was totally wearing a dress).
The purpose of this particular shopping adventure was to grab up some vegan, gluten free pre-made cupcakes. I'd rather have been Hippie Suzy Homemaker, but my body wasn't cooperating at the moment. I had enough energy to drive myself and a bare-assed cheeky ham (pun intended) to a store, and that was about it.
What I didn't have energy for, it seemed, was encountering the entire "Natural" section of the store under re-location and disarray. (I use quotation marks because it's not lost on me how funny calling it the "Natural" section is. Like there is something more "Natural" than the produce section. Said "Natural" section is expanding to twice its size, adding more prepackaged, processed items. Most are gluten free, vegan, and preservative free though, so, you know, closer to what nature intended...?)
Anyhow, the cupcakes were nowhere to be found, no matter how high and low the Commando-in-Chief and I looked.
Finally, I asked one of the store employees. She apologized, explaining that they weren't finished unpacking all of the items from their move across the giant box store. Following a ten minute investigation in "the back," she returned empty-handed.
I felt lost. My allergic kid is going on a playdate tomorrow. To make it extra special, I'd offered to send the cupcakes with her to celebrate her upcoming birthday. She was stoked. Being the recovering perfectionist that I am, my Ego loves to lead me to believe that I'm not a successful mom unless my kids always feel included, special, and thought of.
But here's the deal: I'm learning that that's not actually my job as a parent.
Kids need to feel supported and heard, but what if it was our job to empower them to know that they ARE love, and that regardless of how included or special they're made to feel by the outside world, who they are is enough, always?
There is really only so much we can do to build up a kid's self-esteem. Eventually, inevitably, an event will occur and they will make up a story about their worthiness. It's a human occurrence.
Vegan cupcakes will not protect my daughter from feeling left out or questioning how loveable she is.
All of this insight? Yeah, nowhere to be found in the aisles of the grocery store tonight.
Instead, as I stood there listening to the store employee tell me I was out of luck, I felt so disappointed. Like I had literally let my kid down, and there was no undoing it.
A very kind woman who happened to overhear my dilemma suggested I take a look at some of the prepackaged "natural" cake mixes.
Internally I cringed. Ugh. I'd have to turn an oven on. And if I couldn't make the entire thing from scratch myself, I'd rather not be reminded of my failure by opening a box and turning the oven on.
I just laughed typing that all. What a ridiculously snobby, hypocritical situation I found myself in. All for the purposes of saving my kid (self) forever from self-loathing. Insert Laugh-Cry Emoji Here.
Amidst all of this, I was so stuck in my story of Failed Mom Who Let Down Her Poor Allergic Kid, that I didn't notice how kind and helpful the two women were trying to be. One of them found a box of brownie mix that fit the bill. The other figured out who my kid was (her son was in the same class), and sort of surprised me with her attention to detail and detective skills.
Isn't it crazy how once the mind fixates on a "negative" detail, time stands still in that negativity, as if nothing will ever feel positive again? According to the Ego, Expectations Broken = Eternal Proof That Life is So Hard.
Naked Toddler Butt and I left the store with brownie mix in hand. We came home, and my partner so lovingly took over the brownie assembly. Probably partially because my stomach wasn't up to the task. But let's be honest, he also knew my Ego wasn't up to it, either.
All three kids oversaw his work, eyes wide with anticipation. Including the soon-to-be-birthday girl awaiting her playdate. She didn't give a damn that it wasn't fancy cupcakes, or that it wasn't me making it all from scratch. Of course.
"Natural" Boxed Brownies, 1. Ego, 0.