Good Mom/ Bad Mom

Yesterday I had a moment when I realized that I cannot be the perfect mother. I’m sure this isn’t a huge surprise to everyone else, but, well, apparently I am a very slow learner.

My mom and dad have had Sam all week long so it’s just been Art, Ryan, and I hanging out here in Small Town, Iowa. My parents having been doing this each summer since the boys have been big enough, and it’s wonderful for them to get one-on-one time with each boy, and for us to get one-on-one time with them as well. This time with Ryan gives me the opportunity to do stuff that I wouldn’t usually do, and yesterday was one of those days.

I let Ryan bring a friend along and we went to the zoo.

This is something I don’t usually do because I don’t want to be responsible for three or four little boys at the zoo at the same time. Or anywhere, for that matter. But with Sam gone, this was the perfect opportunity to let Ryan invite his buddy Pierce from preschool for an outing.

This, in my opinion, makes me a good mom. I know, I set incredibly low standards for myself. Honestly, I’m pretty okay with that.

However, before we left on our epic adventure I had to engage in the weekly horror that is grocery shopping. It was on this trip that Bad Mom reared her ugly head. I usually feed my children fairly healthy. They don’t have a lot of junk food, they are awesome at eating their veggies and fruit, and they drink mainly milk and water. Occasionally I splurge and give them sugar-free fruit punch. I know, I’m a maniac. I tend to be kind of self-righteous about my children’s eating habits, which is probably why I had such a horrible downfall yesterday. Pride and all that.

For breakfast, my son had chocolate chip pancakes which were leftover from our dinner the night before. It was like the hugest stack of chocolate chip pancakes known to man and even Ryan couldn’t finish it off, in spite of his never-ending appetite. So, fine, usually he has bananas and cereal and milk but it was shopping day which meant most of those items were gone anyway. Pancakes for breakfast it was.

On the way to the store I stopped at a convenience store for my fix of cappuccino and Ryan said he was thirsty and asked for a cup of water. This is where I began my swift descent. I have this thing where when my kids are apart I tend to spoil them. Apparently the combination of the two together annoys me enough to prevent spoilage, but in a fit of sheer genius, I got Ryan a fountain pop. I filled it very full of ice and then sprite, but even so, the boy added nearly 20 ounces of sugary goodness to a tummy that so far that day had only had chocolate chip pancakes. With syrup. Oops. In my defense, I had completely forgotten that he hadn’t had a healthy breakfast. Sigh.

The realization hit me when we were halfway through Fareway with a load of groceries and my son was bouncing through the store on a sugar high the size of a small Midwestern state. It’s possible that he could have pulled the van home. And if I thought that the boy could talk nonstop before, let’s just say I had NO IDEA. My ears are still ringing from the questions and the requests for more sugary snacks. (Um, I’m not that bad of a mother). We did purchase goldfish crackers and ingredients for rice crispy treats to take to the zoo with us. Should have stuck with the goldfish. Because . . .

When we got to Pierce’s house his mom said she’d send some juice boxes along with us. The end of this wonderful story is this: By the time my child went to bed last night, his usually-healthy-eating self had imbibed in three chocolate chip pancakes with syrup, twenty ounces of pop, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, carrots (yay mom), grapes, two juice boxes, a quarter of a bag of goldfish crackers, a rice crispy treat, and half of a French dip sandwich. Also he had a tummy ache.

So, in the pictures that follow, if my son looks a little more crazed than usual, now you know why. It’s because while being a good mom who takes her children and their friends to educational places, I cannot also focus on being a good mom who makes sure those children eat healthy.

Sigh. I have yet to reach a state of perfection. Enjoy the pictures anyway.

You know I couldn’t resist taking a picture (or two) on the log bridge. It’s tradition, remember? Please ignore my child’s wrinkled shirt. I’m sure my mother is cringing!

I think they were looking at turtles here. We counted six.

I know this is a horrible picture but the conditions weren’t great and I was also trying to keep track of two rather crazy munchkins. These are baby seahorses, only about a month old. They also had some that were only a few days old but they were so small I couldn’t get a picture at all. Blank Park Zoo is putting in a new seahorse exhibit, which is pretty cool.

This is a snowflake eel, also new to the zoo. The boys thought he was pretty cool. Their very favorite part was the bat cave, but I couldn’t get any good pictures in there.

And in front of the jellyfish tank, which at first freaked Pierce out because apparently he thought the jellies were going to make giant leaps out of the tank, fly through the air, and sting him. I managed to convince him otherwise and he got brave enough to sit in front of it.

The boys sat in this bubble for about ten minutes looking at all the fish. Pierce’s favorites were the bright yellow ones; Ryan’s were the clownfish.

This picture was taken in the aviary while the boys were checking out the ducks.

This bird, which we discovered was a peacock pheasant, was completely fearless and let the boys get really close to it. I was tempted to try to pet it but I’m afraid of birds biting me so I resisted.

Checking out more of the aviary.

Our zoo recently installed this huge playground in the petting zoo area (and put all the petting zoo animals back where you can’t actually pet them). The boys played for quite a long time and had fun climbing this wall.

Being the genius mother that I am, I didn’t bring any quarters to buy fish food, but the boys picked up every little pellet that had fallen on the ground and fed the fish. They were pretty hot at this point and I think they were both contemplating jumping in with the fish themselves.

The boys had fun “milking” this cow. Thankfully it actually gives water, not milk, since after I took this darling picture they decided to cool off by squirting each other in the face with the product of its udders.

We got to the sea lion pool shortly before feeding time, so we stuck around and got to watch them do their training routine. The boys enjoyed watching all the tricks that the sea lions could do, and I enjoyed a break from chasing them around the zoo!


While walking around the zoo, the boys found this little green caterpillar. It crawled around on their hands for a couple minutes before we let him go on a nice green leaf, just like the caterpillar in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is a staple preschool book and which the boys undoubtedly know by heart.

This is Rosie the elephant and her baby, JP. Rosie and JP do not live at the zoo all the time, but are here for a visit this summer.

Baby elephants are cute!

Here’s Ryan checking out Rosie and JP.

This is “Pete the Pachyderm.” The kids love him. Except possibly in January.

And this is possibly the cutest picture I took all day.

And that was our day. On the way home the boys ate one rice crispy treat and a juice box each and half a bag of goldfish between them. Having this much fun is hard work!

And being this good/bad of a mom is hard work too.

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17 thoughts on “Good Mom/ Bad Mom

  1. You can’t be perfect all the time!!! 🙂 Doesn’t seem to have done them any harm- they’re very cute!

  2. Great blog! I tend to be very self-righteous about my kid’s eating habits too. 🙂 Also, I laughed out loud about your fear of birds biting you. I have that same fear!

  3. You are such a good mom to let Ryan bring a friend. I know when I was younger, I could never bring a friend along anywhere. That last picture is the best!! I’m glad that you and those two boys had fun!

  4. well, don’t they look like darling little angels! they are great pics, erin. and don’t worry, one day once in a while of being FAIL mom isn’t going to kill the kids 🙂 we have those about once a week here LOL

    looks like lots of fun, i think i’m heading to the zoo with the kids when ty gets home. wanna come along?? 😉

  5. I love it – and no, you are far from a bad mom. IMHO, a bad mom is one who is so stuck on “the rules” that she never, ever bends them.

    and your son is adorable, not crazed at all. 🙂

  6. You’ve gotta splurge on sugary treats every now and then, right? Sounds like a fun day … great photos!

  7. You go bad mom! Let the league of “bad moms” reign!
    Is that how you spell it? Hmmmmmm……
    Looks like you had a great day, fear not, the kid won’t suffer for it.

  8. You are a bad mom, what’s the matter with you??? All that sugar and junk food!!!! AND you took them to the zoo, where they could have and learn stuff!!! This is unacceptable. You’re lucky you have such a non-failing husband like me to keep you straight!

  9. To make myself feel like a good mom I let the girls pick out an apple at the end of our grocery shopping. I put each in its own bag so they can carry their apple to the checkout, its pretty cute-one of these days i’ll get a picture! Too bad I also let my 3 year old daughter chew gum! Sigh! Bad moms of the world unite!

  10. Looks like a great day was had by all…a little extra sugar never hurts anyone and those kiddos probably love you even a little more for letting them indulge!!

  11. Oooh! 🙂 Rosie and J.P.!!! I can’t wait to see them! 🙂 We’re excited about visiting the zoo soon, too!
    I enjoyed the pictures…and the one of the two boys with their arms around eachother…quite adorable!

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