Fake sick days, a shopping-cart fiasco and missing kids: imperfect parenting at its best

Imperfect parenting, huh? Boy, do I have the stories on that one.

Take today, for example. My three kids have been home from school for two days due to parent-teacher conferences. (Four, if you count the weekend.) My husband has been home from work for 18 months because he lost his job when the economy tanked. (And I defy any person who argues against me that we are not only in a recession, but another Depression as well.)

And me? I work part-time and volunteer for what seems like a zillion activities that don’t pay but allow me to be with my kids, or at least afford them the opportunity to participate in activities at a discounted rate because I volunteer there.

Today I didn’t feel like doing any of it. I was supposed to work but I called in, only half-faking it, because the mere thought of dragging my exhausted butt out of this house made me feel sick. Instead, I handed the reins over to my husband and crawled back under the covers and napped until 1:30 p.m.

It wasn’t a restful nap, though I chuckled to myself as I dozed off that I had just stuck it to The Man. Unfortunately, I was also filled with guilt and self-doubt that I’d just stuck it to my family by not being a better mom. Thank God there are enough kids on this block-30 at last count, both a blessing and a curse-so my children always have someone to play with. But as I lay in bed and listened to all their happy voices running and playing outside, I admonished myself for taking the day off. I’m sure no one else’s mother was taking a nap just then, so what gave me the right?

Then there was that parenting moment at Kmart when the oldest two were 3 and 1.

I put my 3-year-old in the cart’s child seat and my 1-year-old in the basket itself, simply because that’s where he wanted to sit. As we shopped, he pulled himself to his feet (the top of the cart still only reached his chest, so I figured he was safe) and happily surveyed the store in an “I’m the king of the world!” fashion.

One elderly lady looked at me as if I were dragging my kids like cans behind a car and said, “He’s going to fall out of there, you know!” I forced a smile for her concern and went on my merry way.

Fast forward to the shoe aisle. I parked the cart and kneeled down to look at a pair of shoes when a ton of bricks fell on top of me-or so it seemed. As fate would have it, my 1-year-old had either fallen or thrown himself out of the cart and landed square on my back. There we were, sprawled across the floor like bugs on a windshield, and, wouldn’t you know it, there was Ms. Busybody herself at the end of the aisle, smirking and practically hugging herself with excitement that she had been right.

Shamed, I grabbed my babies, left my cart and all its contents and high-tailed it out of there.

And don’t even get me started on the time when my now-10-year-old was 4 and his baby sister was 2, and they learned how to unlock the ground-floor windows of their playroom, and crawled out at 6:30 a.m. while the rest of us slept. I woke up in a panic (I just knew something was wrong) and ran downstairs to find the window open and my babies missing. I thought they had been kidnapped.

I ran down the block in my robe screaming. A squad car pulled up beside me and a very aggravated-looking officer asked, “Are you missing a couple of kids?”

Turns out, after my spawn of Satan had crawled out the window, they took a trip around the block and sat on somebody’s front porch. The owner came out to get the morning paper and thought, “Well, you don’t see that every day.” Not knowing whose kids they were, he called the cops. When the policeman asked my son his name, he happily responded: “Mick-spelled M-I-C-Disaster!!” because that’s how my husband had always told him his name was spelled.

The next day, DCFS showed up at our house and suggested my husband and I take a parenting class.

Really? They offer classes on this? “How to respond when your children make you look like the biggest screw-ups in the community”?

I have been a full-time working mother, a part-time working mother and a stay-at-home-mom, but I still have to remind myself that even if Super Woman does exist, I am not her.

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