Good mommy moments and bad mommy moments. As mothers, we have our share of both every single day, yet we seem to mention our bad mommy moments way more than we mention the good ones. Why is that? Why do we put more focus on the bad mommy moments? Is it because we are too hard on ourselves? Or is it because we don’t recognize the good as well as we recognize the bad? Today I’m going to write about one of my most memorable good mommy moments. It’s something that I think back to often, and I think it’s worth sharing.
So it was Valentine’s Day 1997. Yes, I’m going waaaay back. I was a young mom with a 5 year old, 4 year old and a 17 month old. My days were busy and hectic and I hardly ever had any time for myself (hmmm, not much has changed in 20 years!) yet on that day I had made plans for Rich and myself to go out on a double date with a friend of mine and her husband. We rarely went out back then, so this was a special occasion and we were both looking forward to it.
Earlier that day, I sat at the edge of my bathtub painting my toenails a vibrant red, getting my feet all prettied up for my night out. Audriana, who had just turned four two weeks before, wandered into the bathroom. Her eyes lit up when she saw what I was doing. “Mommy!” she said, “Remember you said you would paint my toes!” I had been telling her for about a week that I would paint her toenails, but things would always come up and I kept putting her off.
“I know, Audriana. And I will paint them. Soon.”
“Why not?!! Can’t you just do them now? Please!” She made that squinty-eye pleading face, complete with the head tilt. So cute, but I wasn’t in the mood.
“No. I’ll do them later.”
“When later!” she demanded to know.
“Just later, okay? Right now I need to get mine done because I’m going out tonight with daddy and I need my feet to look good.”
“I need my feet to look good, too!” she persisted.
“Audriana….” I warned, lowering my voice just a bit to let her know I meant business.
She made a face and then wandered out of the bathroom. I finished up my toes, put the bottle of polish on the bathroom counter, and did the duck-walk back into my bedroom. I flopped onto my bed, grabbed my book and started reading while my toes dried. After about 20 minutes, Audriana came into my room holding the bottle of nail polish. “Audriana,” I said. “Go put that back in the bathroom right now.”
“But mommy….” she began.
“Now.” I said.
“But you said you’d do it later! And it’s later now!”
I pointed to my bedroom door. “Go put it back,” I said. She frowned, did an about-face, and marched herself out of my bedroom with heavy, stomping feet, the bottle of nail polish gripped tightly in her little hand.
The day went on and I was busy doing my usual mom stuff, and I also I managed to make a quick trip out to the mall to buy Rich something for Valentine’s Day. Before I knew it, dinnertime had arrived. I made the kids a quick dinner, fed them, bathed them, got them ready for bed, and in between all of that I managed to get myself ready for our night out.
It was 6:00 by the time I was ready to head out the door. My mom was there, ready to take over the care of the kids, and Rich was already in the car with the engine running, waiting for me. I quickly grabbed my purse, hurried downstairs, and I was starting to put my shoes on when I saw Audriana sitting at the base of the stairs with the bottle of nail polish in her hand. She looked up at me and timidly asked, “Now, Mommy? Do you have time now?”
Rich honked the horn. He hates being late, and I always made us late.
In that moment when I was in such a hurry to get out the door, the last thing I wanted to do was to paint my daughter’s toenails. How simple it would have been for me to tell her once again, “Not now. Later.” and continue on my way out the door. But a feeling came over me, and suddenly being on time meant nothing and my daughter meant everything. I smiled at her and said, “Okay, let’s paint those pretty little toes of yours! Red for Valentine’s Day!”
She smiled the biggest smile ever as I bent down and started to paint her toes. I took my time, even though Rich had given the horn another “beep! beep!” at me. I ignored him and just painted her little toes in that same vibrant red that I had put on my own toes earlier that day. When I was done, she looked down at her toes and smiled. She said, “Thank you, Mommy!” and put her arms around my neck and gave me a tight squeeze. I kissed her good-bye and hurried out to the car.
As we drove away Rich grumbled on how we would probably be late because it took me so long to get out of the house. I just smiled and said it would still be a good night for us, even if we were a few minutes late. I tried to explain about Audriana and her toes, but he was too focused on getting us to the restaurant on time to really hear me. During the drive to the restaurant, my mind kept thinking back to Audriana. Why did it take a week of her asking for me to finally paint her toes? It didn’t take all that much time, and look how happy it made her! I’m so glad I painted her toes before I left! — It was a good feeling.
So this was a good mommy moment for me. But it didn’t end there. Three days later we were involved in a horrible traffic accident. Audriana was hit in the head and ended up on life support and in a coma for about two weeks, and it was not certain if she would ever wake up. Day after day I spent at her bedside, watching all the machines do their job at keeping her alive, and as each new nurse came in to care for her, they would pull back the blankets to stretch her still, lifeless legs, and the first thing they would say was, “Look at those pretty red toes!”
Every doctor and nurse made a fuss about her pretty polished toes. Although she was in a coma, they all told her how pretty her red toenails were, and I knew that if she was hearing them she was beaming inside. And I’d sit there with tears in my eyes, so thankful that I had taken the time to paint her toes that night. I know it sounds like a little thing, but it was huge for me. Those little red toenails were a reminder that I had made time for what was important to her.
I think back to that time often. Twenty years has passed, and in that time I have had many other good mommy moments, but none have made me feel as good as that one. It remains my biggest reminder to never be too busy for the “little things” kids ask of us, the things that don’t take all that much time but we keep putting off until later. It’s so easy to brush these little requests off during our busy days. But it’s these little things that are their big things, and I always want to be the kind of mom who makes time for these little big things.
I think it’s important for us moms to realize that for every bad mommy moment in our day we probably have twenty or twenty-five good mommy moments, and it’s time we start giving our good mommy moments some attention. Do you have a good mommy moment that sticks out in your mind? If so, please share in the comments. I’d love to hear them!
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