Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re acting like a complete and total martyr and are powerless to stop yourself? You know what I mean — the mother martry — the worst kind. I shudder at the thought, but I think all us moms have them at times. I think it’s best to acknowledge them, atone for our mothering sins, then move the hell on. “Hi, my name is Mary Tyler Mom and sometimes I can be a martyr.” HI, MARY TYLER MOM!
Today is America’s 237th birthday. I love the 4th of July and most everything closely associated with it — parades, fireworks, hot dogs, stars and stripes, patriotism, carnival rides, cakes over decorated with blueberries and strawberries, the boom from your neighbor’s illegal fireworks late into the night. I love it all, every last piece of it.
This year we are celebrating with my in-laws in their smallish New England town. The morning was spent on the town commons, which even sounds New Englandish. All the kids are encouraged to decorate their preferred mode of transport: tricycles, scooters, bikes, wagons, etc, and scoot or pedal around the town commons while looking exceptionally adorable in their red, white and blue. There is so much to love in this simple, local celebration.
A couple of days ago we stopped at a craft store to pick up some supplies — ribbon, garland, flags. The basics. $12 in and we had everything we needed to trick out Mary Tyler’s Son’s borrowed scooter, USA style. This morning we woke and as a family decorated the hell out of that scooter. What a thing of shining beauty. Mary Tyler Son was beaming and bouncing on the sofa. He loved his tarted up scooter. I did, too. I was proud that with 45 minutes of effort, Mary Tyler Son would surely be admired as he scooted around that commons. That’s my boy!
We headed out to the commons, a little late, but no worries. I carefully put that beautifully decorated patriotic scooter gently in the trunk and off we went. As we were walking towards the line-up, Mary Tyler Son tugged at my hand, “I’m tired,” he said, with more than a tinge of whine. Uh oh. I know full well what “I’m tired” means. It’s code for, “Hell no, Mom, I am not gonna do that thing you want me to do, that I was so excited to do up until one minute ago, no freaking way. I am OUT.” Dammit. Seriously. Damn. It.
Ugh. And sure enough I took the bait. Rather than just let it be, scoop up my tired and overwhelmed four year old, I opted to take the bait. Ugh. I dropped down to his level and eye to eye said in my authoritative, “I mean business, little man” tone, warned him to get it together. That we would, indeed, be walking three times around the commons and that he would, indeed, like it. Ha! Joke’s on me. Mary Tyler Son was done. Finished. It was too hot and too crowded and too unfamiliar for him. He knew it, I didn’t.
Rather than be in the moment and simply enjoy the other little kids and families walking around and waving their flags, I stewed. It is never fun to stew, but it is especially not fun to stew in 92% humidity. Throw in a few pouts and there you have it — my moment of mama martyrdom.
Wah, I thought to myself. I decorated that scooter so damn cute, way cuter than that other scooter over there, and now no one is going to even see it. Wah, wah, wah. And my boy is such a punk, surely he’s doing this just to spite me. What a brat. Wah. And why does no one love a holiday like I do? Why can’t we just do one thing together without a hassle? Wah, wah, wah.
Poor mama. I knew what I was doing. Mary Tyler Dad did, too. Ugh, and I am not proud of myself. Just like I wanted Mary Tyler Son to get it together, I knew I had to get it together, too, and quick. And a few minutes later I did. I stopped pouting and martyring myself over $12 of ribbon wrapped (albeit adorably) around a borrowed scooter. I got it together and moved on. Mary Tyler Dad graciously gave me the space I needed and tended to the boy while I did. Teamwork, yo.
My point is that we’re all gonna feel like martyrs at times, right? It happens. But get over yourself, mama, and move the hell on. Stew away and resent away and pout away, for a moment or two, and then let it go. Let. It. Go. Feel the feelings and then move on. Life is too short and parades move too fast to dwell on what is wrong rather than what is right. Because so much is often right.
The sun was shining, the kids were beaming, the old ladies were waving their flags. Despite not walking around the commons with strangers admiring my Pinterest worthy decorated scooter, life was very, very good this morning. This afternoon, too. Happy birthday, America! Be safe and don’t wallow.
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