October 18, 2018
Two years ago, I bought a cheap fire pit and surprised Sarah and Sadie with a s’more night. It blew their young minds when suddenly we were roasting s’mores over an open fire in our very own backyard. With the cooler weather and Halloween just around the corner, it seemed the perfect time to cozy around the cheap fire pit once again, roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.
The day we did it was a marathon day of seasonal activities. In addition to having the s’more night, we painted pumpkins, planted our fall garden, and put our Halloween decorations up.
Yes, we did ALL that in one day!
Don’t believe the pictures. It wasn’t a perfect day.
Sarah ruined her fuzzy flip flops by dropping a gooey marshmallow on them. Sadie killed more carrots than she planted. They got paint all over the driveway and themselves while painting the pumpkins. I’m not great with messes. They stress me out. At one point, I said something awful like, “See, this is why we don’t do more of this.” Sarah looked at me with a newfound glare that transports me straight to her teenage years. Sadie was crestfallen. Immediately, I was filled with regret. I took a deep breath and apologized. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I just don’t do well with messes. I’m so happy to be doing this with you.”
Then, I discovered what I discover every time I apologize to them: they’re so forgiving and resilient. Nothing taps into their “baggage” because they don’t have any. They just move on and have a great day.
After my little outburst (who is the real kid here?), I relaxed and fell into the groove and meaning of the day. I took in the cool air, the orange of the pumpkins, our silly decorations and this singular moment we were having together and welcomed fall. For the first time, I got my Martha Stewart moment, for real.
It’s not an uncommon story around our house. I try to actualize my romantic notion of seasonal traditions, then reality falls short of expectation because the stress of trying to get it all done or do it perfectly overtakes the real purpose of the moment: spending time with the kids.
The difference this time was that I let go of perfection and to do lists. Everything changed after I took that deep breath and said to myself, “Expect that the carrots are going to die. Expect that the paint is going to get everywhere. Let it happen and enjoy the day.”
That night, the girls crawled into bed and Sadie said, “I love this day! This day is the best!” Sarah said, “Thanks mom for the epic day.” The best part was that I wasn’t rushing to get out of their room, go downstairs and collapse on the couch. Letting go of the perfectionism and to do list had the surprising effect of allowing me to get everything done and feel the contentment I suspect “perfection” symbolizes.
Below are some pictures of a s’more night. They aren’t the real s’more night. On the real s’more night, we didn’t have dinner. We had a late lunch and I was exhausted, so I asked the kids if it was okay if we just had s’mores for dinner. Surprisingly, they said that was okay. 😉 Our outfits were not coordinated. We were so dirty from all the painting and gardening that we looked homeless.
Still, the story of the pictures is not a lie. I’ll never forget Sadie’s laughter and the way she held onto my arm during the scary stories. While we were painting the pumpkins, I made a joke that made Sarah laugh so hard she almost peed her pants. They go outside to look at their work in the garden every day after school. When we pull up to the house, they say, “We have the BEST Halloween decorations!” The next day, when we actually did eat the Italian Flag Baked Pasta, they asked me if I would make it every day… and it has spinach in it!
These pictures are “fake,” but the story they tell isn’t.