We went to Target yesterday to get two chocolate advent calendars. You know the paper kind with the windows you open up until Christmas and get a terrible chocolate each day? Yeah, those. Well, they didn’t have any. Instead, here is what happened.
In typical going to Target for one thing fashion, we walked out with a cart full-o-crap we don’t need, but in the moment seemed to desperately need, such as:
A long flower skirt for $5 that looks exactly like one I had in the 90s as clearly I’m going back to that era with my fashion choices lately (I’m even wearing brown lipstick), kids Emoji kneesocks, 2 kids Christmas plates, a dollar memory game, two $7 blouses and a pair of those shiny pleather black pants (you know the ones, right!!!) for me, cheese its, 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, a flu shot for me, and my favorite Christmas candies – Hershey’s white chocolate with peppermint kisses. I discovered there is such a thing as a sleep poncho and oh hey santa, I’ve been pretty decent this year I think…
The kids played in the lingerie and tried on ladies coats and found a sports bra with Captain America on it and had a whole discussion about how girls like superheroes too and when they get big they are both going to choose bras that have characters on them. There’s a holiday photo booth set up by the Christmas stuff (of course there is), so we had to take a bunch of pictures there and had several nice folks ask if they could take pictures for us and while kind, best intention photo takers rarely actually take good pictures.
There was a woman we kept passing in the aisles who smiled and said hi to us each time like she knew us, but I don’t forget faces. She finally stopped us and said, “you look so familiar to me” and proceeded to name all the places we could know each other from and as I held back my hysterical laughter when she mentioned the gym, she said a church. The church I grew up in. Maybe? It could be but that would have been decades ago. We went our separate ways, but it got me thinking about all the different chapters in our lives and the people who come and go and yet somehow leave a memory – many times without even knowing it.
We checked out after I looked at 100 lipsticks and the kids asked what each one was called and then came up with truly better names for each shade. Make up companies would do well to have some kid cleverness on their teams. Four year olds are my favorite – so far.
We got coffee and hot chocolate on the way to the magic house. Yes, the magic house. I shared it with you last year when the main theme was Prince, remember? Well each year they pick a cause to support with visitor’s donations and this year they picked St. Baldrick’s. OOOOF.
We arrived to see the Peanuts gang exactly as we had last year, but this year there were police officers for the crowds and the owner of the home was walking around greeting folks and handing out candy canes. I teared up as I thanked him for choosing St. Baldrick’s and told him about Donna and Eddie and Aidan and Sophia and the other awesome kids I know with cancer and how some of them have died because FUCK CANCER and thank you so much for supporting St. Baldrick’s.
We got home to find our robot in the chair they left him in earlier in the morning –
(this is why nothing actually makes it out to recycling at our house because OH LOOK WE CAN MAKE THIS INTO SOMETHING!) – as I caught a glimpse of the order form from their school where you can order artwork keepsakes and I swore I wasn’t going to order anything but I ordered two magnets anyway and my husband said who can blame me our kids are the best, and well, they are. They all are. All these kids.
I was chatting with the moms at the park after school this morning and one of them was lamenting the fact that she wound up being her daughter’s mystery reader at school when her daughter really wanted it to be another relative. Like, she had listed every other relative EXCEPT her mom as she guessed who it would be and this mama was feeling a little taken for granted and unappreciated when she showed up to do her not so mysterious reading duties.
I understand. Every time I feel unappreciated or taken for granted in these kids lives, I try to remind myself, as I did this mom today, that we are here. We are the luckiest ones because we get to always be here. These kids take us for granted because they are fortunate enough to do just that.
After we all had a moment of reflection and encouragement, I walked home with my kids and again had this thought of, WHO THE HELL DO I THINK I AM. I am not only a mom to these two incredible kids, but I get to have mom friends and be the one encouraging them when they need it. I will take that role.
Even when it’s really really hard and we clash and butt heads and I’m told I’m the worst mama in the world, there comes a time later in the day when they (and usually it’s she) wants to snuggle and hold my hand and I’m given special art for mama or a song just for me and without ever having to say it, I just know that they love me so much. If I’m really lucky I get to hear it, unsolicited, usually in a whisper and it brings me to my knees every time.
You know it’s bad out there when the time I get to spend with these kids feels like a break. My boy came upstairs while I was getting dressed this morning and said WHY ARE YOU SO FANCY and I said I’m not fancy am I because I wasn’t really, but he said, WELL YOU SMELL FANCY and indeed I had showered this morning. A rare treat for all.
As we arrived at tap class today and I laced them into their little shoes and watched them run off to the carpet to wait for class to start, they didn’t look back. I waited until they did look to wave goodbye but they were just fine. They are just fine.
After class and playing at the park because it’s actually been beautiful weather, we went back to Target looking for the damn advent calendars again as the employees I spoke with yesterday said they’d have them in today. They didn’t. They were sold out. But we walked out with toilet paper and paper towels and more candy. This silly advent calendar mission had turned into a bonding exercise for the kids and I now. With each failure, they were more supportive of us as a team and thankful for my efforts to find the damn things. I made them a promise and I was going to deliver. Against all my better judgement, we went to Wal*Mart to look for the calendars. NOPE. THEN last chance we went to CVS and still nothing. It was rush hour and dinner time and I finally came home and jumped on Amazon to order two $2 calendars for $7 each that will be here in a few days. They’re so excited and thankful. We will have some days to make up for, but hey, we got plenty of candy on our two trips to Target in the last two days.
These little four year olds are my team. I want them on my team and they want me on theirs. I love hanging out with them. Driving with music on and stories and goldfish all over the backseat, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Walking in and out of Target, holding hands, we three – we had a plan and even though it didn’t go the way we wanted, we stuck together and cheered each other on anyway. We lose each other in the aisles and come back to each other and continue on our way. When it’s working, it works so well. And when it feels like work, it’s still working. You know what I mean? I just know without a doubt that there is nothing else I want to be doing than whatever it is we are doing at that moment together. We went to Target for advent calendars and it turned into a whole thing.
Tomorrow morning we go to see Santa get off the Santa Express Train in our neighborhood. We do it every year. They send a letter to Santa and ask for one thing, and this year it’s Baby Alive and Avengers figures. My favorite thing this particular holiday season might be their very different voices singing Christmas songs in the backseat of the car as we drive all over gods green earth looking for those damn advent calendars. Because really – sing it with me and Mariah – all I want for Christmas is YOUUUUUUUUU (ooh ooh ooh ba-bies).
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