My bucket list item for the year was taking place as five of us pulled in to the lavender farm. Adellyn, Julie and her daughter, Abby, St. Jenny (you’ll understand how Jenny earned her title soon) and me. In my head, I had it all planned out so perfectly. How it would smell. What it would look like. How the day would unfold.
It was idyllic, as if we drove into Mayberry briefly as we walked onto a small farm in a sleepy Michigan town. A woman with silver hair and purple shirt the color of the lavender handed us a scissors and a twist tie. “Cut whatever flowers you’d like. All you can fit in here for $4,” she says with a smile. “Have fun!”
And off we went. Adellyn and Abby went racing through the fields gleefully. You could smell the lavender and hear the bees buzzing, far more interested in the plants than the people. As the three of us helped the girls find the perfect lavender flowers to cut, I inhaled deep, trying to be present in the moment. My bucket list item moment.
The thrill of cutting the flowers faded…..after about 8 minutes. And somehow the adults were finishing the bouquet-making while the girls returned to lavender field racing.
“Adellyn, come sit with me real quick,” I ask, full bouquet in my hands.
I mean, it was my bucket list moment and it needed to be documented with a picture….or 30…of us sitting so adorably holding our fresh-cut lavender bouquet, with the very fields behind us. I gave up on Christmas cards long ago, but if I did them, this image, I imagined, would be one for the family card.
“Adellyn, come here, please,” I insist, now turning on my momma-tone as my five year continued to race up and down the field without regard to my instruction.
“Adellyn. Come HERE. PLEASE.” Momma voice getting louder. Momma patience getting thin.
“Mom, wait. Abby and I are just finishing our race,” she replies.
“Come here real quick and then you can go right back to your race,” I respond.
You don’t even have to be a parent to predict what happens next.
Adellyn comes walking over with her five-year old sass and flops down in my lap. “But mo-om, I don’t want to take a picture.”
“One, two…oh, Adellyn, smile,” Jenny says.
“Adellyn, Mommy wants to take one quick picture, just smile for Miss Jenny quick and then we will be done. This is a special day for Mommy and I just want a picture of us together here.”
“Okay, Adellyn, smile,” Jenny says. Again.
“Adellyn. Smile. MOMMY WANTS ONE PICTURE. AND I WANT YOU TO SMILE,” I say through clenched teeth, feeling my blood pressure rising through each word.
To which, my five year old continued to sit there, straight faced, un-phased, not gonna smile.
And that was the moment where I.Came.Unglued.
There are all kinds of parenting techniques. There are times to let them be kids. And there are times to discipline. There are times to love. And there are times when mommy just needs to walk away and take a time out before her head explodes.
This was one of those times.
I stood up, set my child back down…firmly. And walked away…over to Julie who was delightfully taking all kinds of artistic pictures of her cooperating daughter. While mine sat stubbornly staring at the ground.
I turned around to see Adellyn and St. Jenny having a “talk.” The next thing I knew I was being called back to the scene of “this is where mommy came unglued” moment, by a bubbly, smiley-faced five year old that, at this point, I barely recognized as my own.
“I’m ready to take a picture now,” the child said.
I looked at Jenny and then back at A. I didn’t know what St. Jenny said, but I really didn’t care. The child I knew had returned and I had St. Jenny to thank for the Christmas card photo that was about to be taken.
So, down we sat, slapped on our best smiles and 30 seconds later, my phone was filled with lavender field family photos to choose from. And based on the smiles in those pictures, no one would have ever known that literally moments before, mommy had just about lost her marbles.
Two months later, I was recounting the day with Julie, as we were laughing about the ups and downs of parenting.
“You know,” she said, “I was so grateful to witness that day if it was going to happen anyway. It reminded me that, just like mine, your life really isn’t perfect.”
“It certainly is not,” I laughed. “In fact, it’s not perfect a whole lot more often than it is.”
However, while it’s not perfect, it is beautiful. It’s fun. It’s funny. It’s an adventure. It’s toys all over the house and papers everywhere and hard macaroni and cheese noodles on the floor in odd and unlikely places. It’s full of snuggles and games and friends from all over. It’s Saturday mornings in pjs until noon and summers at the lake. It’s being tired some days and over the moon on others. It’s a juggling act at times and holding it together and it’s moments where you just come unglued. And in all the moments, it’s living honestly in the midst of a community of people who love all of us, even the ugly, unglued parts. And it’s in those unglued moments, when I’m thankful for my village of people who step in and guide, love and direct my child when I’ve just had an ounce too much of the parenting role and selfish me takes over or when I need to hear the truth.
So, for those of you who have…and do…and are embarrassed to admit that every once in a while you just really need a time out, there is an army of us who are with you…or at least I am! All living beautifully messy, imperfect lives. Perhaps we can find relief in striving for life to be full, abundant and for a purpose rather than striving for perfection.
When I think about it, perfect doesn’t really measure up to purpose, and the stories from the messy lives are better anyway. And the real moral of the story: If you have to take a time out, a lavender field isn’t a bad place to take one. Just be sure to bring St. Jenny along.