For his first birthday last fall, Little Dude received his very own table and chair set from one of his aunts. He loved it from the very first time he climbed (with a lot of help from mom) into one of the chairs and sat like a big boy.
Little Dude had no clue his aunt snagged his awesome new table for $10 at the neighborhood garage sale; however, we adults agreed it could be even more awesome with a little TLC (aka, a fresh coat of paint in something less…brown).
Although his aunt offered to pain the table, I eagerly took up the challenge. I like getting crafty from time to time, and I had a few ideas that involved lots of color and some stencils.
Things I didn’t take into account while planning my table makeover:
- The amount of time it takes to paint a child-sized piece of furniture multiplies exponentially when you are limited to nap time on weekends.
- Daylight is a finite resource that is never around when I need it these days.
- Each added color adds not only pizazz, but another layer of complexity as well.
- I don’t know how to properly stencil.
Four months later (I wish I was exaggerating), we have a table.
After the first month, I started kicking myself. Every weekend, I would walk out, paintbrush in hand, and tell myself, “Today is the day. I’m almost done. He’ll take a long enough nap. I can do this!” A coat of paint or two later, as nap time ended abruptly with the cries of a hungry toddler, my enthusiasm would plummet.
The self-loathing would start. “Little Dude still can’t use his birthday present? What kind of a mom am I, anyway?”
For a while, that table became a symbol of all my failures and shortcomings as a mom.
Then one day, I started thinking about some of the reasons why the table wasn’t done. What kind of a mom am I?
I am the kind of mom who plans playdates on weekends. The kind who regularly invites family over for snacks or meals so they can play with Little Dude.
I am the mom who stops what she’s doing to read another book…the same one…for the fifth time…when Little Dude asks.
I am the mom who plans family outings and drags the whole family to outdoor festivals, museums, and other events. The one who snuggles on the couch when someone has a sick day.
I am the mom who works all week and is still learning her limits.
The table is still a symbol, but a different one, these days. It reminds me that sometimes the journey is what matters; we had a lot of fun all those months the table sat half-finished on the porch. Little Dude didn’t really miss it.
It’s also a symbol that things can be absolutely amazing when they’re imperfect (I could point out about a half a dozen spots where I could have touched up the paint a bit more), and sometimes you need to say “Enough is enough,” and just let your kid dive in and play.