The Anti Highlight Reel

By Melissa Stefanec

Last month, I wrote about my New Year’s resolutions. What I failed to recognize is resolutions are for middle-aged or old people. No one does resolutions anymore. Somewhere between mastering third-grade geometry and testing the best way to get gingerbread house glue off my son’s favorite pants, I missed a trend. Today, it’s all about highlight reels.

Social media is the perfect place to culminate a thing such as a highlight reel. It already documents the very best occurrences in our lives. If you checked out my social media feed, you would think my kids were always smiling and we always lived life to its fullest. You also may think I was a pro runner and a gourmet chef.

A braver person than me would come clean about how often we eat boxed macaroni and cheese and how, even if I manage to sneak out for the occasional run, I typically forget to wear deodorant.

So, that brings me to the even trendier trend. At some point, the internet started crying foul on the highlight reel. People started posting what their real lives looked like, after they removed the “perfection filter.”

Although I appreciated those real reels, they weren’t nearly real enough for me. So, in the name of being honest and staying on track with the newest of trends, I offer you my parenting reality reel. Enjoy the realities of my 2019.

• Cleaning and organizing the house from sun-up to sun-down

I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve kind of turned laundry into a competitive sport. I also know how to slay most of a Saturday putting things back where they belong and keeping my home a step above “roach-less.” My husband even contributes to this recurring highlight. It’s all glory.

• My husband threatening to take Santa away

The best thing about this highlight is we got to experience it multiple times. Telling kids they are clearly on the naughty list and will not be getting gifts is a solid strategic threat during November and December. Like the much-contested New England Patriots pulling a perfect play out of nowhere, my husband knew exactly when to execute this gem. Which leads me to the next highlight.

• My children tying for the title of “best bickerer”

I like to think of my family as being forerunners in a lot of those ways. One of those ways is a little scientific study we conduct around our home and in the car. It’s called, “Can an adult literally die from exposure to childish bickering?” The answer, despite how my brain feels, is no. We are in a phase I will call “iterate your findings.”

• My daughter getting her first cavity

Despite winning the “do we really need to brush our 7-year-olds teeth for her” argument with my husband, my daughter still got a cavity. Although she was a real trouper  during the dental procedure, I can’t leave this one off the reel.

• My son eating chocolate pudding for breakfast every morning

If I asked my son to draw a balanced breakfast, he would draw a bowl of pudding with equal parts store-bought pudding and whipped cream from a canister. Go ahead, judge me. But there’s something else you should know; my daughter rotates between a croissant with Nutella and toaster pastries at breakfast time.

• Yelling at my kids to stop yelling

This one is pure parenting gold. If you don’t do this at least once in a while, can you really earn your parenting badge? This act is one of the highest forms of parental hypocrisy, yet it’s unavoidable. I’m looking forward to feeling guilty about this one far into 2020.

• Losing the donation paperwork

This one was a real proud moment. I signed up to donate items to my kids’ school. I said I could bring anything they needed. They sent home the requests on separate sheets of paper (because I have two kids). I promptly misplaced one, but I wasn’t certain I ever actually had two. I tore apart the house to no avail. Spoiler alert: there were two. Lucky for me the school got more than enough donations.

• Telling someone I have two kids, ages 3 and 5

My daughter is 8. My son is 5. But, let’s be honest, does anyone asking this question truly care about the answer?

So, I hope you enjoyed the realness of my reel. Here’s to all of the beautiful foibles awaiting me in 2020