This is a story of a mom, just a regular ol’ mom of three boys who so desperately wanted to delight her boys that she fried her brain in an attempt to build them a fort of epic proportions. She was never heard from again. The end.
Okay, I’m kidding about the last part. Mostly.
In all honesty, this is where I feel insecure about being a mom of boys. This is where I sometimes ask God what He was thinking in giving me a houseful of bouncing, jumping, crashing, running, flying, maiming BOYS. Don’t get me wrong, I adore them. But before I had my boys, my total experience with little boys was a big, fat nada. I’m not a fort-builder, I’m not a worm-digger, I’m certainly not a mud-pie-eater. I do my best for the sake of my boys, but it’s definitely not in my nature!
So today (after the mom-guilt of realizing it was crazy-hair-day at school and having sent my son to school with just his normal hair) I got a grand idea of a plan to truly delight my boys. Being that it was a Friday, I wanted a way to make our traditional Friday movie night special. And really, what is more special to kids than a fort to watch a movie in? I could think of nothing better.
Now, last Christmas, my husband and I found these fort-building kits and we gave them to our boys. These kits consisted of balls with multiple holes on each and every side, and black poles to stick into those holes. Basically, you build a structured frame and lay sheets/blankets overtop.
Brilliant idea, right? Yeah, not so much in the execution part.
What I forgot, in the almost year since we last used these things, is that the holes are not all the same size. And while I found the side labeled “top”, if they aren’t facing the right direction, it becomes nearly useless.
So here I was, with my two oldest boys around me handing me pieces, trying to build this stinkin’ fort. And as I added more pieces, pieces from before would pop out of place. It was like a really angering version of Whack-A-Mole, but with the added benefit of children around you yelling, “Are you done yet?!” It was fantastic.
So after what seemed like hours, I got the thing built. And man, was I proud of my creation. With peaks and stabilizing beams, I was sure this thing would hold. But here’s the kicker, I had to move it into the living room where it would be used for its actual purpose. And that’s when everything fell apart (literally). As I began to slide it across the floor, much like you see the bomb squad guys do with explosive devices on TV, pieces started popping out of place. I would stop and fix it and attempt to go again, but as soon as one was fixed, another would pop out, and another, and another. The whole time I’m hearing, “It’s breaking, Mom!” And I’m yelling back, “I KNOW!” And it’s all getting very tense and hot and I’m sweating profusely and finally the whole thing crashes down.
Well, after staring blankly at it for a hot second, I threw my hands up and began to gather the pieces. “Forget this, we’re using chairs like normal people.”
Here’s our fort. Also pictured are the *ahem* lovely fort pieces, abandoned. As well as a random elephant because, you know, toddlers.
Here’s the deal, friends: oftentimes we get so caught up in the idea of creating perfect experiences for our kids that we nearly fry ourselves in the process. I’m famous for this. And when it doesn’t go the way I want it to, if my kids aren’t as appreciative as I think they should be or if it starts falling apart, then my frustration level goes through the roof. And what that exposes in me is the truth of my motives… who am I really doing this for?
If it was truly for my kids, would it matter so much to me what it looked like? Wouldn’t I want to have them more involved in the process? Would I need it to be perfect, knowing that they are so much easier pleased than I am? No, I wouldn’t. Ouch.
I’m challenging myself to let go of my expectations when these grandiose ideas come over me that I so badly want to execute. It’s not the perfection of the end result that matters, it’s the process, right? Isn’t that what we always hear?
Don’t go bonkers trying to make things perfect, mommas. I’ve done it and it’s not worth it. What matters is that you are stretching yourself and desiring to bring your kiddos joy.
In my case, a regular-old fort was all my kids needed. And it was all my sanity needed too.
Find more of Emily’s contributions to allmomdoes here.