The Butterfly Stencil (Mommy Fail #8702)



By Karen Johnson

At 7:30 in the morning, a 4-year old little girl asks her Mommy to help her with a butterfly stencil. Mommy is getting breakfast ready for the 2-year old, trying to take maybe one sip of the coffee she perked 45 minutes ago, and unloading the dishwasher to make room for the sink full of dirty dishes that sat there all night (and most of yesterday).

“Okay, in a minute, sweetie.”

At 9:00 a.m., Mommy and the kids load into the car to run errands. The toddler is flailing his arms in frustration because she tried to buckle his belt for him. Her 6-year old son is describing his new IPad app in explicit step-by-step detail, asking every 7 seconds if Mommy is paying attention.

She asks again, “Mommy, when we get home, can we please do my butterfly stencil?”

“Yes, we will do it when we get home.”

12:00. Three sweaty kids climb out of the car. Mommy makes 92 trips to and from the car to unload the Costco groceries, dry-cleaning, snack cups, drink cups, a dirty diaper, and a half inflated balloon. The kids “help” by getting under Mommy’s feet and carrying one tiny item in one hand on each trip. The toddler takes off and runs toward the street. Finally, once everything is piled all over the kitchen counters and the boys are begging for lunch, Mommy spots the full cup of coffee she never drank this morning.

“Mommy, can we do my butterfly stencil now?”

“Just let me put everything away and make lunch. Then we will. I promise.”

Half-way through lunch, the 2-year old expresses his strong dislike for the eggs Mommy made and chucks his plate across the room. Mommy sees the exhaustion in his face and realizes that lunch is over and nap time is now. She carries a screaming 34-lb toddler upstairs against his will because he is “no tired! no nap!” and spends the next 20 minutes convincing him that yes, in fact, it is nap time.

At 2:00, somehow the kitchen is still completely trashed. Only the perishable groceries have been put away. The 6-year old has begun a massive Lego project that is covering the entire dining room table. Mommy recalls that he has a baseball game tonight and his uniform is covered in mud, sweat, and maybe a tiny bit of pee as he had a close call after chugging Gatorade during the last game.

“Mommy, here’s my butterfly stencil! Can we do it now?”

“Yes. I just need start a load of laundry with your brother’s baseball uniform. Go set it up with some paper. I’ll be right there.”

Mommy enters the laundry room and discovers that there is (obviously) already a load of clothes in the washer. And the dryer is full (of course). When she emerges, holding the overflowing basket of clean clothes to be folded, she sees her daughter standing there, holding her butterfly stencil. Mommy looks at the table and sees that it is covered in Legos, end to end. She glances into the playroom, which has toys strewn about in post-tornado-like formation.

“Why don’t you pick up the playroom and make room for us to do the craft while Mommy folds these clothes? Then we will do it.”

Mid-way through folding the towels, Mommy’s phone rings. Daddy is calling with bad news. His work trip that was scheduled for next week is moved up and he is leaving tomorrow. Mommy now has some logistics to coordinate: a school event she now needs a sitter for, a baseball game she’ll need to carpool to, and a girls night she may have to cancel. She checks on her daughter, still picking up her toys, and tries to quickly send out a few emails and texts to figure everything out.

At 3:30 the toddler wakes up, crying, which means he did not sleep long enough and the next few hours are going to be hell. By 4:00, he is calm, changed, and playing trains. Mommy realizes she forgot to defrost the chicken for tonight’s dinner, which means she may need an alternative. She ransacks the cabinets and refrigerator for inspiration and ideas.

“Mommy, we never did my stencil.”

Crap! How has this not happened yet?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I need to figure out what we are going to do for dinner because we need to leave for your brother’s game soon. I’ll do it with you in just a minute, okay?”

Shit! The game! Mommy runs to the washer, finds the wet uniform and throws it in the dryer on full blast. 20 minutes later, Mommy gives up and says screw dinner (despite spending 4 million dollars at Costco today). She opts for grabbing dinner on the way to the game.

Once the 6-year old is dressed in his 90% dry uniform, she tells all of the kids to load up into the car.

“Mommy, do you think we will have time to do my stencil after the game?”

“You know what? Why don’t you bring it with you and we will do it there? But please go potty first and get your shoes.”

Once all the kids are pottied, shoed, and buckled, Mommy runs back in to grab waters for everyone, snacks for the game (because they WILL be hungry again 13 minutes after dinner), an extra diaper, and they are off.

Upon arriving at the game, the 4-year old asks, “Did you bring my stencil?”

Of course Mommy didn’t. She brought all of you, all of your waters, snacks for the game, extra diapers and wipes, a baseball bat, glove, and hat, and 5 toys trains to appease your little brother. And she swung into a drive-through to buy you heaven-knows-what for dinner.

At 7:30, on the way home, Mommy looks behind her and notices that the 4-year old is asleep in the car. The day is over. No butterfly stencil was made. An activity that would have taken 10 minutes was never accomplished. Mommy carries that sweet girl up to her bed, kisses her forehead, and goes back downstairs to pour herself a glass of wine.

But before drinking it, she makes this and tacks it to her little girl’s bedroom door.

Butterfly Stencil

The butterfly stencil


This post was originally published on The 21st Century SAHM.

Author Bio: Karen Johnson is a former English teacher and now a free-lance writer. Her work has been featured on sites such as Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, and What the Flicka, among others. She is also a contributor in two anthologies: Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever (and then I had kids!) and What Does It Mean to be White in America? Follow her blog, a cathartic mix of sarcasm, angry mama bear rants, and heartfelt confessions at The 21st Century SAHM, and find her on Facebook and Twitter.


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