Feeling Like an Amateur

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Last week, Even Steven was running late at work, so I took all three kids to Miles’s soccer practice.

Things were going well for the first 20 minutes or so.

Miles was playing soccer. (And by playing, I mean that he was following the other kids around on the field and asking when they would be breaking for a snack.)

Alice was playing on the playground nearby. (And by playing, I mean that she had found four little girls that were a little younger than her so she could boss them around.)

And Simon was happy to stand at the sidelines and watch Miles. (And by happy, I mean that he was running into the parking lot every two minutes – when he wasn’t pulling on my shirt and saying, “I want to go to the playground.”)

I finally gave in to Simon’s pleas and took him to the playground.

He ran around to the side to climb up the stairs, while I watched Alice bossing her friends around.

And then I saw three dads standing near the playground looking out onto an empty soccer field. They were wearing perfectly pressed khakis and button-down shirts with sunglasses tucked into their top buttons. They were staring at something and shaking their heads in disgust.

I looked over, and there was my Simon – happily jumping in the only mud puddle within a 2-mile radius. (And by happily jumping, I mean squealing with delight, covered in mud from his knees to his toes.)

I stood next to the dads for a few minutes and watched.

Oh my God, they said. Can you imagine?

Ugg – that’s so disgusting. Another said.

Seriously. Someone needs to get their kid, I said.

They all nodded vigorously.

I’m going to pretend he’s not mine for a little longer, I added.

WHAT? He’s YOURS? OH MY GOD – and they all stared and judged me for a little longer.

I walked down to get Simon out of the mud puddle, only to find out that it wasn’t just any puddle. It was thick, tarry mud that smelled worse than Big Hairy Dog. It was like he had bathed in a swamp.

I dragged him to the car, stripped him down to his diaper and strapped him into a stroller – where he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs.

Simon in Mud

People were staring.

And all of a sudden, all I could see were perfectly put together people. Perfect moms with their perfect kids who would never find a mud puddle. Some of the moms even had their sweaters tucked into their pants. I’m not kidding.

I decided it was time to go. Or at least go sit in the minivan until it was time to go.

So I pushed screaming Simon through the grass to the playground to get Alice.

And of course Alice climbed to the highest point on the playground and refused to come down. And when she did finally come down, I had to CHASE her to get her to come near me.

At which point, she hit me.

In public.

I kid you not – she HIT me.

It was as though time was standing still.

I calmly carried a screaming Alice while pushing a screaming Simon across three soccer fields to our minivan.

Their screams were only drowned out by what I knew the other moms were saying as we passed:

Oh my gosh – do you see that mom with the two screaming kids? Why doesn’t that one have any clothes on? And did her daughter just HIT her?

No – that can’t be the mom. She’s acting like she doesn’t even have kids. Must be the freakishly old babysitter.

The rest of the practice was fairly uneventful. We watched movies in the minivan. We talked about appropriate behavior. Miles got his snack. We finally got to go home.

And I took it as a good reminder that just when I feel like motherhood is getting a little easier… it’s not.

Please tell me that you’ve had amateur moments in parenting too?


  1. Samantha

    May 14, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Just think what a great public service you did at practise? All those women you made feel amazing by how bad your experience was. You should go round with a hat charging next week. $1 per self esteem notch!

  2. Helen

    May 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Yesterday, it was hard to decide my “favourite” part of the day.
    Was it my Ms 2 (usually pre 6am) alarm clock sleeping until 730, when the electrician was about to arrive and I had to do lunches while my husband is OS?
    Or Mr 4 throwing everyone’s breakfast toast on the floor, bc he didn’t want to sit next to Ms 6?
    Or Ms 6 going into meltdown, bc she couldn’t find her homework book or hairbrush. Then making us all late, looking for them?
    Or accidentally bumping the streetside garbage bin, with the car, when reversing out the driveway, which toppled due to the steep incline, knocking the recycling bin over, like a domino and causing further delay, while I picked it all up and chased recycling bottles down the hill?
    Or said delay making us too late to find a parking spot and Ms 6 (still in meltdown) refusing to get out the car outside school on drive-by drop off, so I had to get out, carry her thru the gate, get a friend to hold her and run off.
    Or Ms 2 refusing to have a lid on her cup of milk and promptly spilling it everywhere?
    Or my stuffy nose making me think I had a wet nappy to deal with, stripping off the nappy and plonking the pooey bum on my lap?
    Or the threads of dust/ hair from cleaning cloths getting stuck in the crack in the washing machine so I have to wash the pooey clothes along with dirt from the bathroom floor, stuck permanently?
    In the end, we had a winner; the 1 hour bed time circus “Mum, I need another drink… he got more hugs than me… I’m too hot/ cold/ uncomfortable…. Ms 6 is singing/ Mr 4 is talking….It’s not fair, you’re not going to bed…” and that’s not even counting the fighting down stairs, when I’m upstairs trying to get Ms 2 to sleep.
    The only people I had watching were supportive friends, but if any stranger had dared to judge, I would have told them if they have time to stop and stare, they have time to help. Please feel free to effectively deal with this tantrum, it’s all yours!

  3. Paula Parrish

    May 14, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Being a Mom of four children myself, I have had my share of crazy Mommy moments. Like when my son laid out flat in the isle at the grocery store, kicking, screaming and refused to get up. I have had disapproving looks from another dance Mom’s because I couldn’t seem do my daughter hair just right. I always remind myself that these moments will not last forever. Even the Best of us Mom have are bad days. I hope your day today is outstanding. ;o)

  4. Janine Huldie

    May 14, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Oh man, I felt for you and have had too many moments like you described above and just love those looks from other parents like you are a bad parent or something. I had Lily for a time through herself into full tantrum mode whenever we would drop Emma off at pre-school, because she wanted to go with her. I am not kidding she would trow herself on the ground and make herself limp screaming, kicking, and crying like I was beating her. And the looks I got so similar to what you describe above. So, yes just when you think it is getting easier not so apparently!!

  5. Christie

    May 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

    That wasn’t an “amateur parenting moment”! That was a seasoned pro response! An amateur would have dragged them both by the hair yelling about how they were never watching TV again, peppering the yelling with &?!&@?!$ and promising that “your father will take care of you when he gets home!”
    I hope that one of the perfect dads got sprayed by some of the hairy dog smelling mud on the way out!

  6. Meredith

    May 14, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I’m going to pretend he’s not mine for a little longer, I added.

    Absolutely priceless & well played!

    I’ve been pretty lucky at avoiding situations like this (in public), thus far, mine is only 18 months old. However, when it DOES happen I will be fully informed that it’s not just me. Thanks for that & keep on handling those curveballs with dignity! 🙂

  7. John Woodard

    May 14, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I can’t speak for the other moms, but I can almost guarantee what the dads were saying to each other. It was probably along the line of “Check out that kid jumping in the mud. That sucks. Been there.” Then the nodding.

  8. Kristin @ OneOrganicMama

    May 14, 2013 at 7:36 am

    oh my gosh – it’s nice you saw well dressed dads. seriously ANYTIME i see dads at the playground they are wearing sweatpants haha. if it makes you feel better I encourage my kids to puddle stomp and get messy – they only live once, and will think being muddy is fun for only a short while longer… plus this project makes me feel much better about it 🙂

    and screaming kids means bad parenting? then literally EVERY parent is bad! nakedness? I am constantly trying to keep my kids’ pants on… and they are constantly taking them off – god I hope they grow out of it by high school…

    chin up mama, we are all bad parents.

  9. Kayla

    May 14, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Lmao “wait is that an elephant hanging out of her pants”

  10. Amy

    May 14, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I’m judging those dads. Kids are supposed to jump in mud. Tell them I said so at the next practice. 😉

  11. Meredith

    May 14, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I couldn’t LOVE this story more!!! This is so my life!!! I handle these situations by avoiding eye contact, smiling and pretending I’m the only one at the grocery, target, park etc..

  12. Meg B

    May 14, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Oh man, I think it’s more of a pro. An amateur would have started crying along with the kids. I’m impressed!

    I’m still a newbie mom but I did the whole got ready for work, all set to go, let me give one of the babies one last snuggle and then buuuuurp, spit up all over my shirt. Thanks, buddy!

  13. Carrie

    May 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Yea, as if those dad’s never jumped in mud when they were little! They were probably jealous of Simon!! I would have been! (And I too, encourage my kid to jump in puddles, and sometimes join her!) 🙂 I think you’re a great mom

  14. Ali - Off The Mark

    May 14, 2013 at 9:06 am

    oh yes, I have so had those moments. My children love playing in mud so much that they have a name for it, it’s called “playing mud kids” One day I was totally fed up and I just let them at the renaissance festival. Many, many people saw, most thought we were part of the entertainment, a few mentioned how they were going to ruin their shoes and dresses. I just ordered another beer and shrugged. Some days you just gotta roll with it.

  15. Sara

    May 14, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Oh I am so glad I am not the only one to have moments like that!!

  16. TishM

    May 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Where the heck do you live? Stepford?
    Since having children of my own I NEVER judge when I see kids throwing fits. Anyone who does give you the Judgie McJudgerson face either doesn’t have children and therefore their opinion doesn’t matter one iota OR they are assholes and their opinion ALSO doesn’t matter.

  17. Becky Oleson

    May 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I am crying from laughter this morning. Thanks for sharing and keeping it real. I L-O-V-E your blog! Priceless Parenting Moments. Been There Done That!

  18. Momchalant

    May 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

    That’s one for the parenting books. I can vividly picture you carrying a screaming child while pushing another screaming child in a stroller.

    I went to Target the other day (before I go any further, my son NEVER misbehaves at the store) and my son threw the biggest fit of his life. So big that there was nothing I could do, so I had to let him throw a fit. And of course my friend was trying on clothes (she doesn’t have any kids) so she took her time. Meanwhile, I’m standing outside trying to bear hug a wiggly, screaming-bloody-murder baby.

    It was awful. People starred in disgust.

  19. mom of a dragon

    May 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I think that might be the best thing i’ve read this month.

    I read your blog, and I think : “I like this woman…i’d have scooped some tar/mud off kid and flinged it at the assholey dads watching ala monkey at the zoo flinging poo…”

    Been there, for sure, and my kid BIT my face when this sorta day at the park happened.
    in front of all the perfect mommies.
    (AFTER he hit me, he bit my face…)
    now, he was a tiny guy, and he is like me, an aspie, however, the massive judgment around me created another reason to get real and focus on my kid.
    A older lady came over, grabbed my bag and quietly helped me to the car. I will never forget her.

  20. lilmrsmchenry

    May 14, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I know that moment all too well as a mom of 5 all ages ten and under. When people ask me to tell them it gets easier I can truthfully respond that it doesn’t get easier but it does get different as the get older. Every age and child has their own unique challenges. There will always have moments where you think to yourself “I know that I did not raise you to act like that you little punk!”

  21. Practical Mama

    May 14, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Who cares, what anyone else thinks unless your kids are doing something that’s negatively impacting others? I wouldn’t have cared unless my kid in the mud threw mud to other kids, or I wouldn’t interfere my kid at the highest point of the monkey bar, unless he’s encouraging other kids to go up there as well (as my son does sometimes). Parenting would be unbearable if we were to mind what everyone would think of us all the time.

  22. Amanda

    May 14, 2013 at 11:37 am

    That was a bad parenting moment? Ha! I call that a Tuesday!

  23. Michelle

    May 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Oh, Anna, none of that is that bad! One of mine BIT me from the child seat of the shopping cart at Walmart, hard enough to break the skin through my sweatshirt. Ever try to keep from screaming and checking for blood when there are two old guys starting right at you to see what you’re going to do?

    Let Simon play in the mud. Seriously — if they’re going to spend that chunk of their life waiting while big brother plays soccer, they get to have some fun too. You just need to brush up on those studies about how playing in the dirt improves their immune systems so you can quote important sounding studies. 🙂

  24. Heather

    May 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    That’s my life at least 75% of the time.

  25. Kassondra

    May 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    not armature moment at all just a real life moment. I ALWAYS feel like no matter where I go I find ‘Perfect moms with their perfect kids’ and I sometimes even wish my kids had perfect behaved days but the truth is they are not and if they were I would find them boring so I would rather have crazy loud messy children than boring kids 🙂

  26. Cristina

    May 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I feel your pain and you are not alone. My 3 year old is going through a very defiant patch. Hitting, saying NO, and as I type he is in the corner for not listening. And as he stands there, he is screaming. He is like the kid from the nursery rhyme-when he was good, he was very very good, but when he was bad he was HORRID. I have had to drag him screaming from public places so many times. The other day he ran into the parking lot. And I lost MY MIND. So, my mantra is I don’t give an F what other people say. They are not ME and they are not helping me so F them, and they can keep their judgy comments to themselves. The thing that sucks is I have a baby, so I have another one yet to go through this. Sigh.

  27. mary

    May 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Yesterday my day consisted of drivng 25 miles one way to go shopping i had my 4 yr old daughter who was very cranky i might add no nap all day, and my 3 yr old son who hadn’t had a BM in over a week, we tried everything to get him to go laxatives,baths the whole 9 yrds, so after we get our shopping done on the way home we stop at a park that happens to be having ball games going on all around us. The park is full of kids, my kids take off running, i go with my daughter and my husband goes with our son, then we somehow switch kids, and theres the same men you referred to in your post, the guys wearing polos tucked into their shorts, standing on the sidelines, i had my son dressed down in just a shirt in pull up,they take one look and say,”OMG well we know what kind of mom he has”. It hurt my feelings but in truth i know my kids, i know he was my comfy in just a pull up and i know he wasn’t in danger. Mind yu it was 90 outside at the time, people are just judgemental, you have to just smile and live your chaotic life the way you want too.

  28. Carissa

    May 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    As a mom to a 10 month old, I am just starting to see glimpses of this is my future as the back arching begins. This morning was not a good one – I ended up dropping my crabby kid off with only 1 sock and no shoes on…and I didn’t care. A few months ago I would have been worried the teachers thought I was a bad mom, now I know, they deal with these kids all day- they get it! Those dads suck- and they are just a bunch of liars anyway! They have had those moments!

  29. Jennifer

    May 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Love this post! And love everyone’s stories! My most recent moment came at the pharmacy. As we were standing in line, my 5yr old daughter asked if she could get gum. She had been good while I was shopping so I said yes. When we got up to the register, I told her to grab the gum while I gave the cashier the rest of my items. The line behind me had grown very long, so I was trying to be nice & go quickly. My daughter decided instead of the 99 cent pack she always gets that today she needed the $4 pack, which wasn’t happening. When I told her to put it back, major freak-out ensued. I told her fine, then you get nothing….and tried to calmly finish my transaction and get out of there, all while hiding the full body sweat I had broken into. Of course, she wouldn’t let up, so I told her to apologize to the cashier for her bad behavior, at which point she yelled at the top of her lungs, “Maybe YOU should apologize for not letting YOUR CHILD have gum!!” As you can imagine, that outburst was met with laughter from the entire line behind me, AND the cashier. I’ve done drive thru at the pharmacy ever since….

  30. thedoseofreality

    May 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Pretty much daily. Sometimes multiple times a day if I am being honest. Everyone staring was A) grateful they weren’t you and B) wondering about what stain remover you might have to use to clean his clothes! 😉 -The Dose Girls

  31. Anna Luther

    May 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Is this a good time to confess that his clothes and his shoes are still sitting in a muddy pile on the front porch? And he’s been wearing snow boots all week???

  32. Jessica

    May 14, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Yep, been there. A lot. And my youngest hit me in public on Mother’s Day. At Church. In front of the lady who thinks her children are angels and never do any wrong.

  33. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

    May 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    You are not the amateur. The people who think they have it perfectly managed are the BLIND amateurs because they don’t see what is really going on under their noses, and it’s usually much worse than a kid jumping in a mud puddle.
    You might be hanging out at the wrong soccer field. 🙂

  34. Cyndy

    May 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I think you should have jumped in the puddle with him. And then slung mud on all of the party poopers.

  35. Niamh

    May 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    My 4 year old fixed me with a steely glare on Sunday evening and screamed so hard she barfed. Copiously. And she never took her eyes off me for a second. I was actually waiting for her head to start spinning on her neck…..

    Meanwhile, her 2 sisters sighed, shrugged and went about their business, they didn’t even think it was abnormal. Gulp.

  36. Megan

    May 14, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    My son also repeatedly asks for snacks while at soccer practice. My daughter is at the age where she loves to run away from me in public laughing like it’s a game. My son threw a HUGE tantrum at one of the soccer games. My husband was out of town, leaving me w/ 2 kids. It was chilly and windy, my son was whining b/c he was cold and hungry. He didn’t want to stay for the team picture. He started screaming and crying. There was a large group around us. (My daughter was trying her best to scale a row of logs to get into the parking lot.) I felt the stares and tried not to imagine what they were thinking. I had to drag him to the car crying hysterically. I was so embarrassed and upset I started crying once we hit the car.

  37. Saimi

    May 15, 2013 at 1:11 am

    What???? No puddle jumping???? Don’t get it, isn’t that what puddles are for…sheeesh!

  38. Vicky

    May 15, 2013 at 1:13 am

    I once pulled over on the freeway to scream my head off at my 2 year old who was screaming his head off. Not my proudest moment. I fell ya sister. Of course, in my opinion, you did nothing wrong in this situation. In mine, however, the list of “things I should probably have done differently” is endless. And by endless I mean there are no instruments avialable to modern man to count the amount of parent fail that day;)

  39. KellyR

    May 15, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Eh, yesterday I threatened to drop my 7 (going on 17) yr old daughter off at the Amish place down the road. It would teach her humility and appreciation. And maybe she would earn appreciation for what she has. Or maybe they would traumatize her and she would never yell at me again.

  40. kathy

    May 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

    there`s nothing like puddles and kids. whenever I get a chance I dress up the g`kids in boots and we go out for a walk to find the biggest puddles. sadly…i don`t remember doing this with any of my kids though….

  41. Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit)

    May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Just the other night, actually. At my son’s baseball game! First, my daughter fell and slid through the bleachers. Then she sneaked off and started petting some random dog while I was busy scaling the fence to retrieve my son’s baseball glove from atop the dugout. There are days where I feel I’m the only one that has to “speak firmly” at such events, while everyone seems to have their calm and patient act together.

  42. Real Life Parenting

    May 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Sounds like solid parenting to me … the fact that you didn’t lose your shit on them both out there tells more about your parenting prowess than crying kids who are just having a bad day. No worries, sister … those gawking Judgey McJudgertons will have their screaming child moment some day too!!

  43. theycallmeMaddy

    May 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    My daughters are 18 and 21 now and they weren’t normal!!! And by “normal” I mean they never did things like what you’re describing. I remember a friends brother ask me, “what the hell have you done to your girls”. I said, “I haven’t done anything to them!” He said “BS! Mine are running around here acting like monkeys, yelling and taring shit up and yours are standing there hands in their laps not doing or saying a word!!!!” YOUR GIRLS AIN’T NORMAL!!!!

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