It started with a simple decision: cup or cone. We were at Sesame Place this past weekend (boy, do I need to write a blog about that), in the water park area, and they had just announced a scheduled break of the splash zone we were in. Perfect time for ice cream, right? Julia and I headed over to the nearby ice cream stand where there was a blissfully short line.
Julia begged for a cone. But these weren’t small servings, these were VERY VERY big servings on top of a pretty big cone. Of soft serve. On a super hot day. But it was vacation, and I knew it would make her happy and I am usually very strict and I want to be a cool mom and so I said ok. I can be flexible right? I ordered a vanilla cone with sprinkles for Julia, a chocolate cup for Brian and a swirl cup for me. The woman fills the cups first, and then runs out of vanilla ice cream. So, I am standing there, eating my ice cream before it melts, watching Brian’s ice cream melt (he’s back at at the splash pad with Luca) and watching Julia slowly start to melt down over waiting for the new vanilla to be mixed so she can get her cone.
Finally we get the glorious, giant cone and Julia is happy as a clam. But it’s about that time that I basically lose my will to live. I start to worry that the ice cream is going to melt too fast and fall off the cone. At which point Julia will inevitably freak out, at which point Brian will probably say she can’t have another cone, at which point she’ll freak out more, and even if I can convince him to let her have another cone, we’ll have to go back to the ice cream stand, and the line might be longer, and I am not even sure I have enough cash because I only took a twenty with us to the water park part and the ice creams are over priced …. and…. and…. What was my point here? That I’m crazy? Oh yeah, I am crazy. Did I ever mention that? That my anxiety comes with a delicious strain of obsessive thought patterns that often focus on future scenarios, most of which are unlikely to happen, and which I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER ANYWAY?
So she’s eating and all I can do is fixate on the fucking cone. Julia, lick around the bottom. Julia, eat some off the top. Faster Julia. Brian, can you please eat some of her ice cream to help out? Julia, hold it upright. Don’t tilt it Julia. Meanwhile I am eating my cup of ice cream as fast as I can with the plan to dump her cone into the cup when I am finished. Except I get brain freeze in the middle of this rapid ice cream consumption. My nose is actually tingling from eating it so fast. And what’s the god damn point? Before I know it, the ice cream is gone, likely hundreds of calories worth of deliciousness and I barely tasted it. And now she won’t put her cone into my empty cup because there is chocolate residue on the bottom of my cup and she doesn’t want it to taint the vanilla.
And you know what happened? Nothing. Nothing happened. She managed to eat the ice cream cone like a human, nobody died, and the world didn’t come to an end. And then I felt stupid. For criticizing her, for worrying so much, for not letting myself just let her enjoy the moment. For not enjoying these moments myself. I have a feeling it’s not just moms with anxiety or obsessive thoughts or control issues who struggle with moments of this. The lack of ability to control situations with kids can bring out staggering emotions in parents. It’s another one of those things that no one tells you about having kids. That sometimes, there are these moments where you want to be able to have the power, and you don’t. Not power over them even, but power over yourself. To be ok. To remember that they’re ok. To take each moment as a moment and not as the moment. To not freak out. To let yourself freak out. To be ok with the outcome, whatever it is.