My work sponsored a bus trip to the Philadelphia Zoo this past weekend for “Boo at the Zoo”. This is an annual event where kids can dress up in their Halloween costumes and trick or treat at various points in the zoo. There are some Halloween displays but mostly it is an excuse for kids to dress up and get multiple sugar highs throughout the day.
I knew Boo would be crowded but I had not anticipated the zoo feeling like Walmart on Black Friday. The insanity was made worse by the strollers AND wagons that accompanied pretty much EVERYONE at the zoo. At one point, after being assaulted by a Joovy sit and stand, the husband turned to me and said where we THIS BAD when we had a stroller?
After walking around for over 4 hours in 45 degree weather (technically it was probably 53 degrees out but it was cloudy and damp) it was finally time for us to all head back to the bus. The husband and I herded the boys and started the trek back to the entrance – only after stopping to see the polar bear for the 3rd time to see if he was finally awake.
It had now started to rain and this mom was D-O-N-E.
The kids stopped throwing leaves at each other long enough to board the bus. The end was near!! We were leaving the zoo!
Everyone found their seats when suddenly I was bombarded with Mom I have to go to the bathroom. Mom, can I get a snack? Mom, I’m hungry! Can I have a snack?
Ugh. I took my seat next to Lucas who was holding a bottle of water. Mommy? I’m thirsty can I have this? Sure, have at it. I said while trying to find my seat belt.
Then, as if in slow motion, I watched the water bottle hit the floor and water spilled all over like a river.
Quickly, I asked someone if there were paper towels on the bus. They said no and handed me an unopened roll of 1-ply toilet paper.
There I was on my hands and knees trying to sop up the water (did I mention it was 1-ply?), darting in and out of rows anytime another passenger got on the bus.
Before long the mess was cleaned up and again I tried to sit down when I heard Mommy I have to go to the bathroom NOW.
The husband was sitting in the row behind me and I ask him to take Lucas to the bathroom at the back of the bus. What? Take him now? No way, he can wait until the bus starts moving.
Judging by the look on Lucas’ face I knew this was not an option so I grab his hand and nudged him toward the back of the bus. People were still boarding and others were getting drinks and snacks so this was no easy task.
As I stood wedged in the row with the soda cooler waitinf for a family of 5 to pass, one of the twins spotted me and asked Mom? Can I have a soda?
I don’t care, do whatever you want. I responded just as someone turned to me with a look and said Are you alright?
Oh good, that wasn’t too embarrassing, now work people will think I am insane.
Me and Lucas make it to the bathroom and are crammed in there, me kneeling on the floor, when I remember he is wearing his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume under his coat. Yikes! This means I’ll have to pull the whole thing down so he can pee.
O-M-G. Am I on Candid Camera?
After what feels like an hour, but in reality was only 10 minutes, the bus pulls away. The kids are settled, the husband is sleeping and I am left to sit and reflect on what a horrible mother I am.
This was supposed to be a fun trip to the zoo. All week I had visions of the boys laughing and frolicking in the zoo. Smiling and getting along with each other while they trick or treated and excitedly pointed to the animals.
A beautiful family day filled with memories and photos that someday the boys would tell their kids about.
Grandma was SO FREAKING AWESOME, she took us to Boo at the Zoo back in 2015 and it was A-MAZING! She was the best mom and we were SO lucky!
Instead it was crowded and cold and I was grumpy. I spent the majority of the day counting heads to make I didn’t lose anyone while yelling at the younger 2 to stop fighting and hitting each other.
I wasted $40 on crap food because the zoo ran out of pretzels (yes, it really happened) and I didn’t let anyone ride the swan boats or pony rides (see above regarding $40 on crap food) and we never made it back to the play area like I promised Jake (secretly I am ok with this because it’s impossible to keep track of 4 boys in an obstacle course you climb with nets and a covered slide).
Crabby mom yelled and told them to stop when they threw rocks in the duck pond (they were encouraged to do this by 2 weird kids dressed up as Thor) and got annoyed when Jake kept lagging behind because he was obsessed with reading the map.
All night I replayed my epic failures and bathed myself in mommy guilt.
Is there something wrong with me?
Maybe I just need to accept that I will never be the “fun mom”. The happy-go-lucky-all-the-kids-want-to-hang-out-with-me-mom. The mom who always comes up with fun, Pinterest-worthy activities to do on rainy days or to celebrate some obscure holiday.
The mom who takes her kids to a water park or Great Adventure AND goes on all the rides (the exception being the lazy river). The mom who dresses up in a really spooky costume on Halloween (not cat ears with whiskers drawn on with eyeliner).
No matter how hard I try, I will never be the mom who knows the most current songs on the radio or that brightly colored crew socks ARE back in style for boys.
I started this blog this morning and never got a chance to finish it. A little while ago, a friend told me about a young mom of 2 small kids who died last week and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The uncertainty of it all. How short life really is and how you really do need to live in the moment and enjoy the little things like Boo at the Zoo and Jake’s map obsession.
I could sit here for hours writing about my many mom faults, but why? How will that help me be a better mom?
In the end I guess all of us moms are the same. Living each day, doing our best to raise kids who are healthy, happy, and kind to others.
Some days will be really good and others not so much – like when you spend 2 hours doing 3rd grade common core math problems after dinner.
Hopefully we succeed and years from now we’ll be lucky enough to look back and laugh about all the things we thought were SO important.
Thanks for reading.