Wouldn’t you think after 10 years of raising daughters I would have seriously disappointed them?
I thought I had worked hard at that. I’m not bragging because I’m far from Mother of the Year, but I have caused many embarrassing events that surprisingly are a perk of parenting.
Long story short…my children no longer trust me.
There’s a touch of backstory needed. One of my daughters loves babies. Everywhere we go, there’s an infant oohing and awing back at her, and nearby dogs cock their heads while perturbed by her piercing, high-range baby voice.
We’ve called her the Baby Whisperer since she was 3. Years ago at the San Diego airport, our family was once again arguing where to stand at baggage claim — and in 2.63 seconds, our little one was gone.
We couldn’t even exit the airport before one of them is abducted? Great vacation!
Barking at my extended family to drop luggage and split up, I yelled, “Look for baby strollers! If there’s a baby in this terminal, she’s found it.” After the longest two minutes of our lives, we found her talking to her new best friend, a baby girl…in a stroller. Mother does know best.
So, recently when my 9- and 10-year-old daughters were asked to “baby-sit” a friend’s toddler during the older sister’s birthday party, you can imagine the hysterics . I insisted on being at the party in case there was cake, and also to assist my girls with not losing a child. I was a pro at this anyway.
For a month, baby-sitting was all my daughters could talk about. They counted down days on the calendar and spun stories of what might happen on that glorious day. They were positive they were already experts in baby-sitting.
On the big day, I woke up and checked my phone calendar to make sure we got there early enough. The clock dragged on and one o’clock took forever to arrive. But at 11 a.m., the mom of the birthday girl, texted me.
“Are you still coming to the party?”
I should have called her the day before to let her know we were still on.
I texted back we would arrive at one, then set my phone down to keep my girls entertained. At 12:30 I am pulling things together to leave and saw I had another text.
“The party was from 10 until noon,” she said.
After my soul melted into the cracks of the kitchen flooring, I begged my friend for forgiveness. Not only had I disappointed a friend, but also my girls were going to be livid!
I don’t know if anyone can imagine how many ways I varied the speech in my head. It was necessary to let my girls down easy, but there’s no scenario that could fix it. I had to rip off the Band-Aid and fess up.
I went to my older daughter first who hopefully would take the news well. She didn’t.
Tears the size of beach balls welled up, the lip started trembling and a far-fetched story about never being able to baby-sit again in the neighborhood was all she could repeat. I have no idea where this creative drama comes from — probably her engineer father.
Next I slowly approached my youngest, the Baby Whisperer.
I expected an ugly reaction, and true to form she morphed into the teenager I had been and slammed a door in my face.
If they were this angry because the friend had canceled, I wouldn’t have put up with it. But this was my fault. I can’t even blame it on my electronics because this is not the first time I’ve had appointments end up on the wrong day or time.
My only hope was if I could get another baby-sitting gig from my friend that day. I called her and asked if they would like a date night that night. The girls and I would love to watch her children for free hopefully to set things right with all disappointed parties.
Who knew after entertaining 15 excitable kindergartners with loads of sugar and a bouncy house, the parents were relieved to have a break.
My children forgave me as soon as the toddler ran into their arms. The Baby Whisperer was now a professional since she was paid in party favors, unlimited time in the bouncy house and cake.
Even I forgave myself after the cake.
(Previously published in The Kansas City Star on July 22, 2016)