Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Back when I was a good mother



This past weekend Walker went out of town on his annual guys' trek to our friends' parents' beautiful lake house on Lake Travis. He had fun and I let him go with no resentment that he was eating homemade blueberry coffee cake (he keeps talking about that cake Chad) and frolicking in the pool with all his best buds while I was back in Houston in my own personal hell called IKEA.

The girls' room has no place for toy storage, namely Barbie storage.  Now Feminist Missy once swore she would not let her children play with Barbies. A conviction that went south into the miry well-intentioned bog called Fantasy Motherhood, waving on its way down to her conviction to let the kids only watch minimal TV and high fiving the one to never let them eat Ramen noodles.

So I saw these storage thingys at IKEA and as you know I dream of organization, so I have been coveting them for lo these many weeks. And since IKEA is right by church, and Walker was gone, I thought on Sunday we would just pop on over, feed my kids cheap IKEA hot dogs (high five!) then stick leave them in IKEA's 'Smaland', and go get me some storage.

The plan was only sweetened when my friend Karre, whose husband was also frolicking in bluberry coffeecake fields, said that she would join me. Her son Thomas and Shep are buds but her other son William? Ike LOVES and I mean LOVES, LOVES his friend Yilyum, to the point that I think Yilyum has considered filing a restraining order. But for today, Karre and I intended to have mommy talk over IKEA lunch while our kids played happily in Smaland like little happy Swedes.

I harbor a love/hate relationship with IKEA. I like that it is cheap, and if you need a place to store the toys that you swore you'd never buy for your kids, it's awesome. And they have good chocolate. But IKEA has made me never, ever want to go to Sweden. I can't really explain why, but IKEA to me represents everything that is annoying about Europe. Including the word 'Smaland.'

And I am also not quite over the disgusting sample I got that turned out to be salmon. A fish sample. On a toothpick. Like that would ever happen at Costco. God bless America.

The problem with IKEA on this particular Sunday - aside from the nasty fish sample - was that everyone in Houston had the exact same deposit-the-kids-and-shop plan. There was a wait for Smaland.  And we had six hungry children.

So, we stood in line for thirty minutes with desperate looks on our faces like we were hoping to get picked to enter a cheesy Swedish nightclub. Ike was waffling about whether he wanted to go in - which is normal for him. He always hesitates in the beginning and he always ends up having a good time. Especially if Yilyum is there to play with.

Finally  - thirty minutes later - we signed several legal waivers (very American of you IKEA) and all our children were safely deposited in Smaland and it was time to get my Euroganization on. I took my buggy which just so happened to be possessed by the devil in that just one push and it SLIIIIID all the way across the IKEA concrete floors. But I didn't have any kids, so I figured I could handle it. I rode the elevator up, stepped off the elevator, and immediately my Smaland parent buzzer went off.

Great.

I put Beelzebub the Shopping Cart back on the elevator and return to Smaland. There was one of my offspring, looking guilty by the door. Ike. "Did he have and accident?" I asked. "No," the lady replied. "He just wanted to come out."

Confusion.

"Was he crying?"

"No, he's fine, he just said he'd like to leave," she said, as she retrieved his shoes, because you can't wear shoes in Smaland. Which is so irritatingly European.

"Well, he's four, and he looks happy, and I need to shop, so why didn't you just tell him to give it another THIRTY SECOND CHANCE and he might actually enjoy it before you paged me? Because his dad's been out of town since 8am Friday morning and I COULD USE A BREAK? And the thought of dragging children around IKEA while their dad eats homemade blueberry coffee cake in a beautiful lakehouse is REASON ENOUGH TO POINT OUT THE DELIGHTS OF SMALAND TO HIM isn't it?!?!"

That's what I didn't say.  Instead I put Ike in Beelzebub, got back on the elevator, and exited onto the second floor.

At which point my beeper immediately went off again.

Back downstairs. At the Smaland desk. I saw Yilyum sitting down in the distance, crying, and thought maybe they had intended to page Karre. Then I saw/heard Maggie sobbing next to him.

"You're Maggie's mom?"

"Yes....." Maggie? Maggie never has issues in place like this. Maggie?

"Well, Maggie punched a child in the face."

"MAGGIE did?!?"

"Yes. And we can't have violence here. So you have to remove her." From Smaland. That I just put her in three minutes ago. After waiting for thirty.

"MAGGIE?"

"Yes ma'am." The words 'violence' and 'Maggie' have never been used in a sentence before. Shocked, I asked her, "Why did you hit William?"

"Because he wouldn't get out of the shoooooooooeeee." Sobbing uncontrollably. Loudly.

I deposited her in the shopping cart and proceeded to lecture her about violence as I rode the elevator - again. Ike also chastised appropriately, "MaaGEEEE! You hit my FWIEND? MaaaGEEEE!"  More wails of remorse if not repentance. When I told Karre what had happened, she of course went to get her boys, and Shep was on her sign-in card, so I got Eva Rose out as well.

So here I was. After waiting thirty minutes to not have to be in IKEA with four kids, I was in IKEA with four kids. And a shopping cart named Beelzebub.

And I was mad. Really mad. Really mad and knowing that they are just kids and kids do stuff like that blah blah BLAH but I was still m-a-d mad.

While I wanted to stomp back to the car, I needed the Barbie storage and I certainly didn't want to come back here. Especially not when one of my Smals had been blacklisted from Smaland.

Now another thing that I can't stand about IKEA is that I can never find my way out of it. It's a never-ending maze of simple lines and primary colors, and if you are just there for one thing, like Barbie storage, it's incredibly annoying that you have to take a tour of the entire HUGE store to get there. The signs point to shortcuts but go NOWHERE. So I wind and wind around the stupid IKEA never ending stupid showroom with a cart that constantly tries to FLY away in the opposite direction of where I want it to go. And Maggie is still SOBBING. And the other kids are complaining that they've been pulled from Smaland. And Ike is being IKE. And I can't get their DAD to answer his dumb PHONE to find out when he is coming home. AND MY SHOPPING CART IS POSSESSED. I'm MAD and I have SMOKE coming out of my EARS and my kids are CRYING and I don't even CARE and right then I hear a voice go, "Missy?"

I turn.

It's Paula.
Who was a girl I mentored in youth ministry.
One of my favorite, sweetest, most precious girls.
Whom I haven't seen in years.
And for whom I once upon a time tried to be a godly role model.
And she has a friend with her.
And I am so angry at this point - really and truly angry - that I can't even fake not being angry.

I try to explain it all to her over Maggie's wails, but it's hopeless. It's just a bad mommy moment, and there is not a thing I can do about it now except try and find my way up to the stupid BARBIE STORAGE!

I did. I found it. I heaved it into my cart. We all came home. Walker came home and took over. I laid on my bed and stared at the ceiling and pondered what a complete and utter failure I am as a godly role model.

But mostly I just was glad that he was home.
And that my daughters now have a place to put their Barbies.
The Barbies I would have never ever bought, back when I was a good mother.

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