North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

November 13, 2013

Danielle Cater: Girls’ day teaches tough lessons

Danielle Cater: Girls’ day teaches tough lessons

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

NORTH JEFFERSON — Any time I get a spare girls’ day with my daughters it’s like Christmas morning in my mind. I see us as the happiest bunch of chickadees. In my dream world we go shopping and find wonderful bargains with laughter and sweet words; there is no fighting or crying. We go to the park and play carefree in perfect weather. And then we polish off the day by all cooking together in the kitchen for a thankful husband who’s happy to see his girls when he returns home from work.

Well, that’s how it goes in fairy tales, but in real life it goes a little closer to my girls’ day this past weekend.

Two of my daughters and I got up and were excited to have our time of playing, shopping and perhaps even a game of bowling. I’m not new to this mom game, so I knew if I was going to have happy shopping partners, I had to do that first thing and bribe the children with promises of McDonald’s lunches and bowling alley fun.

I didn’t want anything to spoil this day so I called the bowling alley early in the morning to make sure they were open. Thankfully, they were. Since I knew there were a couple of clothing shops close by, I decided to head that direction first. We could knock out the task of buying me some pants and then jet right over to the real fun of bowling.

Who was I kidding? First of all, I am the worst when it comes to directions. Even my Mapquest app on the phone confuses me and leaves me in scary parts of town, lost and angry. Yes, this was the case on our girl’s day.

So when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. When I realized that I was lost as a ball in high grass, I saw a Krispy Kreme store with a “hot and ready” sign lit up. Perfect, I can stop there and get the girls a donut and ask for directions. This may have proven to be the best part of the day. Both girls liked their donuts, but the cashier informed me that I was 30 minutes from the nearest bowling alley. No worries, I’ll just drive in the right direction (I hope) and eventually we’ll find a clothing store and bowling.

Well, after a while we did find some clothing stores, and that is where the day took a left turn. There is nothing worse for a woman who has gained a considerable amount of weight than trying to buy pants. Ah yes, marriage has been good to my heart, but bad to my body. I’ve gained enough weight to house a 5-year-old child, and trying to fit into my size three pants is worse than a tragedy. I’m still a woman and like any woman, I want the smallest size pants I can fit into... well, that’s a joke. As I tried on pants after pants in all shapes and sizes, it was more and more obvious that I hated my body and that all clothing stores hated my body too.

By this time I’ve gone into four stores, bought zero pairs of pants and the girls are as restless as I am. I don’t want to be doing this any more than they do, but I have to have some work pants. So the search continued. With the continued search came the wild side of my daughters. At one point in time they were playing tag through the store. Then there was the heart-stopping moment of them hiding in the middle of racks and not answering as I walked by them over and over again. Then while trying on pants, my youngest daughter feels the need to peek her head under the stalls around us while the oldest daughter is very loudly stating the obvious, “Momma, those pants don’t really fit you very good.” Well, thank you my daughter, no one knows that better than the woman trying to button them!

After six stores and a double strikeout, we decided to just head out toward the bowling alley — oh yeah, the bowling alley we were already lost trying to find. After driving around for at least 30 minutes I came into some territory that was familiar. Finally, I knew where I was and where a nearby bowling alley was. I sped over to it, excitedly. This was the first happy moment in our car for hours, but it was short-lived. As I pulled into the parking lot it was obvious that they were closed. Dad-gum! Forget it! I decided to just go to the bowling alley right here in town and forget about the rest of our plans. Wouldn’t you know it, that bowling alley was closed also.

So where did we end up? Yep, you guessed it. We went to McDonald’s for a little play and food time and then hit up Walmart for a little grocery pick up. By the time we made our weary way home, I had one daughter half asleep and the other completely passed out. I had threatened them both within an inch of their lives and stressed the whole family out with my plans for a good day.

When it all went to pot and it was obvious that none of my good intentions were going to pay off we were on our long, dirt driveway headed to the house. How could I turn things around at this point? My bad attitude about clothes shopping and bowling had ruined our fun day.

Finally, it hit me — just have fun with whatever you are doing and your kids will enjoy it. If we are miserable the whole time we are trying to make memories with our kids, then we are ruining the whole point of the day. So I asked my youngest if she wanted to drive the car the rest of the way home (before you call DHR, it’s just our dirt driveway, so it’s not a real road, calm down). It completely changed her mood. When the oldest woke up, I asked her to help me flour the counter to make homemade cinnamon rolls, and you would have thought I gave her the keys to a new car.

Sometimes it’s not the activity that we have planned that means the most to our children, but our attitudes going about that activity that make the difference. I learned some very valuable lessons on our girls’ day. Never try on clothes with kids in the changing room with you, and keep a good attitude no matter what the circumstances are.

I guess it is true: If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.