For Sienna's 8th birthday, she got her ears pierced.
This was in last July, and she was a model new-ears-pierced patient. Unfortunately, her right ear was pierced too low and while we watched it closely, the lower part of her lobe split open and the hole fell out. Like, the hole slid down her ear until it was at the bottom and the front and back of the whole came together.
That doesn't make any sense but bottom line, we had to wait for her ear to heal so it could be re-pierced.
Fast forward to Saturday. Brad and Spence had been gone skiing for a few days and I had not been feeling my best. I tweaked my back Friday during yoga and my cold came back with a vengeance so when Sienna mentioned going and getting her ear re-done, I thought yes! This will turn our weekend around! We'll head to the mall, get her ear pierced, maybe shop around a bit, get some lunch and my status of FUN MOM instead of GO WATCH ANOTHER MOVIE MOM will once again be restored.
It was quite the feat to coax me out of my sweats but soon we were on our way. Sienna was excited and I was ready to put this whole ear drama behind us and move on. Except that when we got to the ear piercing place, our ear drama turned into Sienna drama and she threw the mother of all fits. Like, scared to death yelling and moaning and freaked out fits. I stayed calm for much longer than usual and explained to her that we could leave and go home but that we wouldn't be coming back anytime soon to get her ear pierced. She struggled fo-eva over her desire to have it done and her fear of getting it done. I filled out the paperwork and got everything set while she worked through it.
Except that she didn't work through it and got herself so worked up that I quickly became the mom that everyone in the mall is staring at because she can't control her kid. And my kid isn't a toddler in need of nap time but a real, legit kid kid. I did my best to stay calm and reassuring while my other kids tried to look like they belonged with another family.
I'd like to say that I found the right words to calm Sienna and that she sweetly held my hand while her ear was re-pierced but that would be a fat freaking lie.
It didn't go down like that AT ALL.
But the ear got pierced. HALLE-FREAKING-LUIAH.
And then I marched us out of there faster than you'd think possible with three kids in tow. Sienna whimpered her way back to the car and I, uncharacteristically, started to cry.
And here's why; it wasn't the drama over Sienna and her actions. It wasn't the other people staring at me, silently confirming my fears that I'm not the mom I think I am. It wasn't even my own personal embarrassment.
It was that I built it up in my head how it was supposed to go and it simply didn't. My expectations set me up to fail.
Without even meaning to, I built up our little outing as some type of restorative fun from a rather lackluster weekend. I'd be the hero for getting her ear pierced! And then we'd have lunch! And my daughters would confide in me the treasures of their hearts! And we would look like those people who have it all together instead of the ones wandering the mall with ketchup on their shirt! It would be glorious.
And it could have been, but I screwed it up even more than Sienna.
I dropped Hannah off at a friend's house, having told Sienna in my last hail Mary attempt, that her playdate would be canceled if she didn't hold still and get her ear pierced and since one of my goals this year is no empty threats, I followed through. When I got back to the car, Sienna whispered quietly "I'm so sorry I did that to you Mama. I didn't mean to but I was just so scared."
And that's when I felt about two inches tall.
Expectations are a funny thing. They can be a great thing, I think, a lot of the time, having something to shoot for. But we can get lost in them when what we want to happen looks different than what actually happens. And how it looks from the outside means nothing compared to how my Squish felt on the inside. We have to start finding a way to appreciate the off-course and messed up versions of whatever it is we're doing since that is the stuff of memory-making, and are so much more important than anything else. Who wants polished and perfect when it's empty inside?
I pulled Sienna onto my lap as soon as we got home and told her how sorry I was. She apologized to me and we talked about trusting each other and doing hard things. Our afternoon together wasn't pretty but it turned out pretty awesome.