Let’s talk about treats. Class party treats. Birthday party goodie bag treats. Dancing class treats. Teacher treats.
Let me first say that I have been THAT mom on both sides of the fence. I have been the Pinterest Princess where I had the cutest, most creative treats in the room. When my oldest was in her first year of dancing (13 years ago) I bought little denim purses and sewed fuzzy orange fringe on them and stitched a glitter pumpkin patch to it and filled it with candy. For Valentine’s Day I made handmade bows for each of the girls. I spent a lot of time and a lot of money being THAT mom. Through the years that followed my efforts waned and I succumbed to plastic bags of Hershey kisses if I even remembered at all.
Then came two more girls. I became the mom who always volunteered for “juice” on the class party sign-up sheet. Except for that one party when I missed the sheet and the only empty blank was “special treat bag.” And then I showed up at the party empty handed because I forgot…so I became THAT mom.
But I was determined to change the tide when daughter #2 started dancing. On the first day of class I walked into the building like I owned the place (truth be told, I’ve been driving to the same studio and putting my check in the same slot every month for 13 years with 14 years left to go that I think a small deed to the property is in order…but I digress) with my bag of treats. I had taken jumbo white marshmallows, dipped them in white chocolate, doused them with pink sprinkles complete with pink cupcake wrapper inverted on a stick to resemble a tutu. I walked in the door as if in slow motion with the wind blowing through my hair and swinging my bag of ballerina treats on my finger. I walked past all of the moms and handed the bag to the teacher all the while thinking, “I rock. Ya’ll suck.” This was a new circle of moms and I had just set the tone. I was THAT mom. I was the mom with the super cute treats who was super attentive to know that only certain moms bring treats on the first day ever of dancing. Until two weeks later I was the less attentive mom sitting in the lobby chatting on the phone while her one year old snuck out into the parking lot. And then two weeks after that the mom who had to call the police to the studio because the same one year old had locked herself and my phone in the car.
Fast forward through two more years of proud juice box only party contributions and no birthday party gift bags…ever…and we come to Halloween week 2016. It will live in infamy. Molly comes home from Mother’s Day Out with a note the week before about her Halloween party and there in class was the sign-up sheet. Juice boxes had already been taken. Who does that? What other mother in this class is as busy AND scatterbrained as me? How selfish. So I choose apples and grapes. They sell those things in individual packages now….easy peasy. The note CLEARLY stated that the party was at 1:30. I cannot produce this note as proof nor could I produce it that day but trust me, the note they gave me said 1:30. They sent some other note or secret group text to the other mothers that stated otherwise. I had two installations that day so I handed that puppy off to my husband. Meanwhile I also had to figure out Halloween dancing treats for both younger girls’ classes. Of which I remembered about at 11:00 on the day of that party. What can I pull together right now? I texted a friend for an idea and she sent me a picture of what she was sending. She went Etsy on me. Seriously? I scroll through Pinterest in the bank parking lot and my expectations lowered and lowered. Until I find myself in the Albertson’s chip aisle thinking that 5 skeleton shaped cheetos in a ziploc bag could be cute? My printer isn’t working so I can’t print tags. I could write something on the bag in sharpie? That’s when I called my friend back and said, “Hey put my girl’s name on your treats and I’ll pay you half!” She had already printed a poem and signed it with her daughter’s name. Of course she did. That’s when I realized that no treat at all was surely less embarrassing than this thing I was trying to pull together. So I told her I wasn’t caving into peer pressure. I was NOT bringing Halloween treats. I would make my own statement. And after seeing the treats that my girls brought home that day…the ribbons, the poems, the clip art, the cricut’d initials…no treat was wayyyyyyy less embarrassing than cheetos in a ziploc.
Which brings us to the day of the Mother’s Day Out Halloween party. It was one of those overscheduled-how-will-I-get-it-all-done days. Jacob was handling the apples and grapes at 1:30 and I just had to get her to school with her lunch. It was also “H” week and we actually showed up with something for Show and Tell. “B” week was the last time we remembered. Nailed it is what I am thinking. So we are walking down the hall and I start to see Buzz Lightyear, Cinderella, and a red Power Ranger running amuck. What is going on? They must be in another class. Then I see Belle. One of my daughter’s classmates is dressed as Belle. I turn to the mom walking right behind me whose son is also dressed up, and ask, “Why is everyone in costume? HOW DID YOU KNOW THEY SHOULD WEAR THEIR COSTUME?” To which she replied, “It was on the note.” We walk in the room and children in costumes abound. Teachers in costume skip around the room welcoming them. And their mothers. A room full of other mothers with their prize winning party food and treats laden with ribbons and poems and clip art….staring at me and my empty hands with my uncostumed three year old. Ya’ll. She wasn’t even wearing a Halloween shirt. No pumpkin, scarecrow or even fall color. She was adorned in a hot pink knit dress with polka dot initials. She let go of my hand and clung to her teacher’s leg. I think it was her version of flicking me off and I didn’t blame her. I whispered to the teacher, “I didn’t know they were supposed to wear their costumes.” She said, “It was on the note.” Bbbbbbbbut we brought something for Show and Tell I thought. I also realized that the party was obviously much sooner than 1:30 so I told them my husband was on his way with the fruit and he must have gotten caught in traffic.
Sobbing, I called Jacob frantically. Instead of responding with sheer aggravation and a too bad attitude, he says, “I’ve got this. I’m on it.” Nothing makes a man rise to the occasion than rescuing his damsel in distress. And nothing makes a man hotter to that damsel than the image of him combing the produce aisle looking for the individual packs of fruit and delivering them to a room full of three year olds and their mothers. Five hours and two installations later I walked back into the classroom with my tail between my legs. I picked up my uncostumed child and what she said I will never forget. “Momma, I love my costume. Miss Donna said I dressed like a pretty little girl today. I love to be a pretty little girl.” And that my friends is what exceptional teachers are made of. And when I hit my knees that night, Miss Donna and her compassion probably stemming from her own mothering days gone by, were at the top of my prayer list. Thank you God for the Miss Donnas of the world. Thank you for the quick thinking she used with Molly which translated into grace for me.
That week of epic mom failure goes down in the books for me. Right behind the day I forgot to pick her up from school and had three missed calls from the school and right in front of the day I flushed the toilet before I took a picture of the smiley face poop. Yep, I was THAT mom. So after two weeks of calendar re-evaluation, work load analysis, and budget rearrangement, God showed up in the biggest of ways. That brings us to “J” week at school. Trying to get out the door and Molly wants to bring something for “J.” So we are searching and I am rattling off ideas. No, no, no and no she says. Until her 6 year old sister says, “I know!! You can bring Jesus!.” Yesssssssss. We will bring Jesus. But how will we bring Jesus? Jesus in your heart? Take a crucifix off of the wall? Print a picture? And then here comes the three year old, barreling around the corner with Jesus. She went and dug out of the hall closet Jesus in the cradle from the Fisher Price nativity set. We’re bringing Jesus I thought. We walk down the hall and into the classroom of her peers and their mothers. And my Molly raises her 2 1/2 inch plastic Jesus high above her head and belts out at the top of her lungs, “MISS DONNA….I BROUGHT JESUS!!!” The room went silent and then her two teachers and the mothers in the room let out a collective, “Awwwwwwwwww.” To which I then strutted around like a peacock to Molly’s cubby narrowly resisting the urge to go around the room in duck, duck goose fashion saying “I rock, you suck. I rock, you suck.” My kid brought Jesus. I’m THAT mom.
I got in my car both proud and humbled. She won’t remember the day that she was the only one not in costume or that she doesn’t pass around cutesy, personalized super expensive treats. But she WILL always remember Jesus. She will always know and remember what she is taught about Him through her parents, the schools we choose for her and the people we surround her with. I’m THAT mom whose kid knows Jesus so well she brought him to freaking Show and Tell.
And as for all of those treats….who are they for? Who are we trying to impress? We don’t dip marshmallows in white chocolate and sprinkles so that two year old ballerinas will like us. We don’t buy oodles of ribbon and peruse Pinterest to impress school aged children. Because all of those treats that day were torn apart in a mess on the floor of my car three minutes after they were buckled. Kids don’t care about presentation and fluff and fonts. They want the candy. They care about what is on the inside….the good stuff.