I woke up before 6 a.m. yesterday, put on two layers of hot fabric for my Little Bo Peep costume and loaded my car with my 1-year-old son Donovan’s Halloween costume. I was so proud of myself because I had remembered everything.
I packed his plush pumpkin bucket, giraffe costume, lunch for me and beans and rice for him, since we’d be going straight from his school to our church’s Halloween festival.
Everything was going as planned so far. I finished up work on time, made it through the normal traffic delays and arrived at Donovan’s daycare around 6 p.m.
He greeted me like he normally does, a big smile and a full-speed sprint, so I’d chase him. I caught him. We stopped at the fish tank to count the fishes, and I picked him up to head out the door.
He did his normal whining because he didn’t want to leave and unfortunately for me, added a few slaps in. Apparently, he’s picked up the idea that hitting is funny.
Fine. Nothing I can’t handle.
“We don’t hit,” I explained to him.
(Kudos to the daycare workers who happened to be passing by and backed me up. You’re the real MVPs.)
Even though it was an unfortunate start to my favorite holiday, I was still cool.
I wasn’t even upset. I persisted through Donovan’s whining, got him in his car seat and fed him half his dinner to save room for candy tasting.
Then, the chaos began.
I pulled up to our church’s lot, and it was packed.
I weaved in and out of aisles before I joined the row of cars that had created their own parking spaces along the lot’s perimeter.
I loaded up the stroller, packed Donovan in it and ran to the door. Atlanta’s weather apparently decided to switch from cool to cold on Halloween.
My Little Bo Peep bonnet flew off. I stuffed it in the stroller and kept running.
I made it to the event facility’s lobby and realized I left Donovan’s candy bucket in the car. Oh to the well. I’ll use his hat, I thought.
No wait, they’re handing out bags in the check-in line. Great!
I struggled, and I mean struggled getting Donovan in that damn costume. Sweat beads dripping, wrong foot, wrong strap, wrong shoes, but I got him in!
I grabbed his hand and the stroller and headed to the entrance line. That’s when Donovan jolted to the escalator.
I left the stroller holding our spot in line and grabbed Donovan just before he reached the gliding toddler death machine.
He reacted as if losing a limb playing on an escalator was his life’s greatest ambition, like it was the thing God put him on this Earth to accomplish.
He stretched out in a full-blown meltdown.
If picking his 35-pound body up wasn’t difficult enough, I proceeded to do it with the added weight of an awkward giraffe costume, not once but twice.
“Do you want to go home,” I asked.
He still cried.
“If you don’t get it together, we’re leaving,” I threatened.
He still cried.
I tried to get him in his stroller, and he stiffened his body.
By the time we made it to the front of the line, I was done.
“We’re leaving,” I said.
I snatched that costume off of him and jetted to my parking space.
I was pissed.
“He is going straight to bed as soon as we get home,” I texted my mom and husband.
But you think that happened?
I fed him, bathed him, tucked him in and told him I loved him, still fuming through it all.
Realizing I had to pack for a trip for my aunt’s 50th birthday celebration is the only thing that calmed me down. Well, more like replaced anger with panic.
When I finally had a moment to just stop and think, I realized I wasn’t angry because we didn’t make the festival. I was embarrassed.
An entire lobby of people probably took one look at me and deduced I was a horrible mother.
And it had happened before.
I was letting Donovan cry it out on the floor of a Dollar Tree, when he jetted toward the door as I was wrangling the stroller. I swear, if not for another customer, he would’ve ran right out.
I just thanked her, hung my head and made my way to the car.
I felt just as defeated then as I did on Halloween.
These are the moments I seldom read about on Instagram. And if I’m being honest, I don’t have a neat little lesson learned to pull from these situations.
I just had to deal with the fact that a toddler got the best of me.
I persisted. I forgave him, forgave myself and moved on. Another day, another meltdown.