A couple of weeks ago I ventured off to the pumpkin patch with the boys, by myself. What was supposed to be a complete family outing turned into the three of us because Ryan was gone on a business trip.
Someone told me this particular pumpkin patch was enclosed with a fence, so I took that as some reassurance that I'd be safe to go. I actually was pretty excited myself because I had heard about this awesome corn maze they had and other fun activities for the boys.
I decided to tackle the hay ride first and get our pumpkins before going off to do the other fun things. We made it through that without any major incident. The boys ran into the field, picked a pumpkin and were ready to get back on the hay ride. They loved it! Besides a little muddy patches, we made it.
Then the corn maze.
Oh, the corn maze. An activity that would normally have me filled with anticipation for the adventure of finding my way out of the twists and turns. This maze was good. That was the problem. It was TOO good.
That day I had put Evan in his "fall" jacket which is beige corduroy. In other words, he blended in quite nicely with the corn stalks. My oldest son, who takes after his mother when she was a child, always looking for an adventure, decided that he could navigate the maze without me and Oliver. Who, by the way, wanted to walk himself through the maze as well.
I "lost" Evan a few times, and thankfully there were many families there who kept him where he was until I followed his voice. But I learned that it just isn't a good idea to take a 3 year old and a 1 year old into an state-of-the-art corn maze. Everyone at the pumpkin patch knew Evan's name by the time we left.
I was very grateful to get to the point in the maze that had the sign that read, "Congratulations! You made it through the easy part. Turn right to really be challenged or turn left to finish."
We turned left, and Evan whined, "But I don't want to find our way out, Mommy." Yeah, right kid.
I was sweating by the time we were done and we still continued to play afterward on the bounce pillow, feed the animals, and took a "train" ride.
The culmination of the day came to a point when we left and Evan, yet again, ran away in the parking lot. It's like he's reverted back to his 2-year-old self again. He hasn't run away in a parking lot in such a long time. I freaked, of course, and yelled his name over and over.
"Evan! Stop right now! Evan!"
My voice got more panicky with each shout. Cars stopped, people came to my aid, and he just laughed like he was having the time of his life.
"Got your hands full there, don't ya," someone says as they walk past me with their well-behaved child smiling so angelically holding their parent's hand like an obedient child.
"I get that a lot," I replied with that fake laugh where I really want to be sarcastic and say, "Hmmm, ya think. I didn't know. Thanks for pointing that out to me."
We all have our bad days as parents. Our kids have bad days and good days. Some struggle with an area that another doesn't, but as a parent, you will face a muddle in your life, at some point. It's inevitable.
You can plan, plan, plan, and still things will not go according to, well, plan. And you know what? That's OK, really it is.
I used to be that planner and perfectionist. Disciplining my little cousins or kids I taught, and would think the key was to just be consistent and lay down rules and they'd be respectful and well-behaved little ones. I wasn't one to ever judge parents or think that I could do better, but I definitely had an opinion about a lot of stuff.
But each child is different and each parent has their obstacle to face with raising their kids.
I'm sure there were many at the pumpkin patch who judged me that day or though my kids were unruly and thought that they could do better or their child would NEVER do that. That's OK. It used to really bother me and I'd be embarrassed. However, now I take it all in stride and do my best. I'm not saying there aren't days when I'm frazzled and mortified by muddles I find myself in, but I do my best to "laugh" it off and remind myself that one day I'll look back and miss the mayhem that is now my life.
If you're a parent, I hope you will too. Whatever muddle you find yourself in today.