One of the things I love most about my wife is that she is a realist.
So when Mother’s Day came along, she understood that all those grand ideas about breakfast in bed, well-behaved children and being catered to all day long just weren’t going to happen with our two kids.
See, even on his calmest days, 3-year-old Miles is what they call a “spirited” child. On other days he is, as my Southern friends say, a “hot mess.”
Sure enough, things got off to a rough start, with Miles pitching a fit about his shoes and not wanting to go to church. Five minutes after coming downstairs, I already could tell this day was going to be a wild ride.
Sparing most of the gory details, we were a solid 10 minutes late for church, breakfast in bed was more along the lines of brunch at McDonald’s and my leisurely barbecue resulted in a grease fire that made our dinner less than great.
Owen, 7 months, was pretty chill the whole day, but even the most low-maintenance baby takes a lot of effort.
At the dinner table, Miles was in rare difficult form, sass-talking, arguing every little thing either of us said and refusing to eat just to spite us.
“He’s just like me … just like me,” Abbey would say through a mouthful of burned chicken, shaking her head with a half-smile of resignation on her face.
Nearing 7 o’clock, the one item on the agenda that she really wanted — a trip for frozen yogurt — seemed an impossible task.
But I was determined that this one thing was going to happen. I took Miles into his bedroom and gave him the longest caring-but-stern lecture of his young life about how he had hurt his mom’s feelings by misbehaving on Mother’s Day, how he was old enough to know right from wrong and how he should treat other people the way he wants to be treated.
It was my big dad moment, the kind of thing you only see on sitcoms.
Miraculously, it worked — for about 45 minutes. Fortunately, that was long enough to drive to the frozen yogurt place and eat our dessert in relative peace and calm.
It lasted until we were on our way out the door, when suddenly Miles let out every screech, howl, scream, kick and jump he had so dutifully been holding in, blazing a path of chaos out the front door and getting laughs from every single person there.
A mother and her teenage son were standing at the counter. I got the feeling she had been in our shoes a time or two.
“I remember those days,” she said, exchanging a bemused look with Abbey. “They go by too fast. Happy Mother’s Day.”
“Happy Mother’s Day to you, too,” Abbey said as we walked out the door — reminded, I think, that those little fleeting moments make all the difficult ones worthwhile.
Maybe we’ll try that breakfast in bed thing next year.