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Stay-at-Home Panda

Stay-at-Home Panda

An adventure of triumphs and troubles as a mother, wife, and woman

What I Realized About Being a Hot Mess

I’ve considered myself a hot mess for a long time.

You might know about the time I accidentally packed my kids’ shoes in the checked luggage on the same day I missed a flight. We had a lot of time to kill and energy to let out, and as much as I wanted to give an air of maybe-they’re-not-mine, I was forced to be the one calling, “Don’t climb on the ledge!” “Don’t throw the ball while people are walking by!” and “Hold your brother’s hand while you run through the airport!” The feral animals were clearly mine, and a direct product of my hot-mess ways.

On a whole different trip alone with my two children, I was getting ready to board the plane when I smelled the rank stench of a dirty diaper. I swept the boys into the bathroom, and yelled “Don’t touch anything!” to my curious duo while wiping the cheekiest of cheeks. I reached into my bag to pull out a freshie, when I discovered there wasn’t a single diaper in there. Seriously, what mom travels without diapers? I would have shamelessly asked another mom for one, but my flight was getting ready to depart, and I didn’t see another child my son’s age. So as I’ve done time and time again, I said F it, and hoped for the best. My 20-month-old made it a surprisingly long time before peeing himself. In fact, it wasn’t until we landed and I set him on the open seat beside me that he relieved himself. I didn’t know til he stood up and revealed a little puddle. All the nearby passengers were standing, waiting to deplane, and many were looking our way. After all, I had cute and chatty kids. Without hesitation, I plopped myself down on Asher’s wet seat hoping to not only hide it, but absorb it. When everyone was off, I took some wipes to it, then walked away with a wet toddler and pee on my own pants. I didn’t even feel weird because I’m that used to being a hot mess.

Then this past Saturday I was reading and writing during nap time while Josh walked. He called me from the streets like, “Do we have anything to eat?” When he gets hungry, he wants food like right freakin’ then (yet he also wants it homemade and wholesome). I’ve become a fan of serving dinner around 3:00 anyways so even though I was enjoying my own life, I told him I’d make burgers. I formed some patties, fried some onions, started making rice and roasting broccoli when I heard Asher calling for me from his crib. I ran up to grab him, and returned to the sizzling of butter and the requests of Javin. He followed me around asking for my help in setting up a lemonade stand. Josh walked in like a hungry cave man, and kept asking when the food would be ready. I was like, “Oh honey, if you want fast food go to McDonalds,” but I really said, “Do you want bread with your burger?” I plated up the best I could with one hand, and when I finished, I ran outside to check on Javin who was already starting his business.

I walked back in 40 minutes later and saw a stick of butter melting on its wrapper. Ketchup and mustard bottles were on the counters with their lids up, and the mayo was vulnerably open. The skin of an onion was lying hopelessly on the floor among other stuff that fell along the way. For a minute I thought about what a mess I am, but then a different voice spoke to me. It said, “Nah girl, you’re amazing. Sure, your shirt has huge wet blotches on it, but that’s because you filled a pitcher with the lemonade you made from lemons you squeezed yourself, and then carried it out along with the table and chairs, signs, and tape. Yeah, your kitchen is wrecked but while putting salt on the vegetables you were spelling out the words for Javin’s signs and being patient when he would ask, ‘F? What’s an F look like? Like a line and then two more across? R? What’s an R look like? A square with two lines down?’ He’d draw the letters in the air, and you’d half-watch while sprinkling cheese and getting your toddler (who only wanted your hip) a drink.”

That’s when it hit me. The very traits that make me appear like a hot-mess are also the ones that help me out the most, like my ability to go with the flow and trust that even when things aren’t perfect, they will work out. I do more than I probably should in less time than I really need, and even though the after math often looks hot-mess-ish, it’s boldness, flexibility, and confidence that gets me into those positions every time. I won’t deny I’m a little reckless too, but whatever, I charge it. I never wonder if I can do something, I just do it, and I kinda like that about myself.

As I stood in the kitchen with a giant mess and a fussy baby still glued to me I realized the term “hot-mess” has been a misinterpretation of my incredible capabilities and some of my favorite attributes. I really don’t mind being a hot-mess but it will no longer carry a negative connotation. It means my f*ck it kind of attitude balances out my awesome ambition, and the two really work quite nicely together.

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About Amanda Elder

Amanda has a background in education, but now spends most of her time snuggling her kids, wiping their butts, and doing house chores in her underwear.

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