We all have them. As a mom, I think back on my past expectations- for my baby, for myself...and I chuckle. No pacifiers? That lasted less than 48 hours. Back in pre-baby shape by the time Gracie was 9 months old? Puh-lease.
But there has been one thing I've remained pretty adamant about. A parenting vow that I made a long time ago. My child would NEVER be one of those kids in restaurants.
You know the kind of children I'm talking about. They clamber all over booths. They crawl all over the floor. They emit that high-pitched squeal only rivaled by dog-whistles. They whine. They serve as birth-control for other diners.
Recently, I went out to lunch with a great friend of mine. Who happens to (thankfully) be a mom of an adorable well-behaved 6 month old little boy. And while her little angel coo-ed in his car seat...Grace was screeching. Trying to climb out of her high chair. Throwing breadsticks.
Let me take a moment to say- that really is not standard Grace behavior. She's normally the kid at the restaurant who sits peacefully & charms the pants off everyone that passes. The most obnoxious thing she does is normally fixate her attention on a male in the room and insist on saying HI to him &waving 543464 times until she gets his undivided attention. Not unlike going out for drinks with certain friends from college, right?
Try as I might, I couldn't contain her. No amount of goldfish, board books or even the dreaded not normally seen in public pacifier kept her satisfied. Not even a real live BABY (she's got this strange obsession with all babies) caught her attention. I was really looking forward to catching up with the particular friend so I tried to just ignore Gracie's bad behavior.
Which is about the time the looks started. Side-long glances from neighboring tables. Pitying stares from waitstaff. Its entirely possible that I was being a little paranoid- but all this (supposed) negative attention was making me sweat. I felt like my mommy skills were on display and I was failing miserably. I wanted to scream " But she doesn't watch any television!"..."I made all of her ORGANIC baby food, by hand!"..."She loves books and can count to three!"...just to defend myself.
The friend I was with sensed the panic in my voice while I was trying to chat casually about what was going in my life & we started to double-team Gracie duty. We distracted her with a dancing baby. We barricaded her with chairs and tables and let her sit on the filthy dirty floor and look at a book. Which lasted all of 15 glorious seconds. We got lemon slices from the bar- because she loves lemons.A glass FULL of lemon slices. Which we encouraged her to eat with a chorus of "Mmmm LEMONS! SO delicious". I'm guessing this is the moment that the older woman at the next table was considering calling the higher powers to get my mommy license revoked ASAP.
When we finally threw in the towel, when I looked at my friend whose beautiful baby was just barely starting to fuss and said...I think it's time to go...Grace stopped trying to squirm out of my arms like I was covered in porcupine quills & smelled like brussel sprouts. She cheerfully got her coat on & as we walked out of the restaurant, while I was trying to hide my face so no one could report me for my ineffective parenting skills, she smiled sweetly, waved at every patron of the restaurant, and said "Bye" in her innocent demure little voice. I muttered under my breath "ughnoonethinksyourecuterightnowyouruinedtheirpeacefullunchesandwerethrowingbreadsticksforpetessake". Which only served to make me look crazy. And certainly did not win me any mommy points.
Expectations? They can't exist with toddlers. And the beautiful thing? If you let go of everything you were planning on.. life surprises you. It's the things I never expected of Gracie that have been the most wonderful. Her sense of humor. How adventurous she is, without being reckless. She displays none of the anxiety or trepidation that plagues my life & for that I am so grateful. She's surprising me everyday with the sort of person she's becoming. And projectile breadsticks aside, I couldn't be prouder to call her mine.
After that atrocious display of bad behavior, on our walk to the car, Gracie grabbed my face and said "oooooh MAMA!" and planted a big sloppy kiss on me. My heart melted into a puddle and instantly, it was all forgotten. So forgotten in fact, that we're going to try to go out to lunch again today. Wish us luck.
If you hear of a Mommy meltdown at a local pizza buffet?
I swear, it wasn't me.