Family Bloopers: When Happy Memories Don't Go as Planned

It's Halloween night and I'm stuffing my screaming, thrashing toddler into his costume, which he's been in love with all week long before deciding sometime in the last three minutes that he wants nothing whatsoever to do with it. I'm sweating, he's howling, but by GOD I'm going to get him in this thing if it kills me because it's Halloween goddamnit and WE WILL MAKE HAPPY FAMILY MEMORIES OR ELSE.

We're at the Christmas tree farm and the baby won't wear his mittens and his nose is running and his older brother is crying because his dad left his side for two minutes to chop down a ridiculously overpriced tree and everyone's having a giant tantrum for one reason or another and I had dreamed of both kids having sips of hot chocolate and playing in the snow but here we are, a bedraggled, exhausted family who basically all hates each other right now.


At the pumpkin patch we see a pony ride and the toddler, who has always been obsessed with horses, points and begs for a ride and I can't believe he's finally, FINALLY going to be on his very first real horse, and my husband carefully lifts him up to the saddle where he promptly bursts into terrified tears.

I rent a rated-G animated movie for my dinosaur-loving kindergartner, pop some popcorn, snuggle next to him on the couch, then bemusedly watch his rear end disappear as he goes bolting from the room at the first sight of a cartoon Tyrannosaurus Rex.

It's Mother's Day and I've spent an hour blow-drying my hair and carefully applying a foreign layer of lipstick. I slip into a flowery, girly dress; I take several test photos to get the lighting right. I give my husband strict instructions on how I want the photo to turn out, then I smile at my beautiful boys who I love so very, very much, and ask them to come pose with me—at which point they both yell, "NO!"

I can't tell you how many times it's happened: I built up the activity in my mind, imagining the picture-perfect scenario ... and the reality is something else entirely. This is how it goes with kids, and you'd think I'd know it by heart. Yet it still gets me every time, the inevitable sense of disappointment, and even worse, the creeping irritation. There's something so Mommy Dearest about being grumpy with your children for not performing on cue in what you think should be a Hallmark moment, but it gets me every time.

Does this happen to you too? What's your top happy-family-blooper moment?

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