Many expectant moms daydream of all the annual traditions they want to start with their kids. If you live in New England, land of colorful foliage, yearly trips to go pumpkin picking is high on the list of things that are awesome about Autumn. Take young kids to the pumpkin patch is certainly a memorable experience, but just not in the way you anticipated.
Expectation: You will finally mange to get a great family photo to hang over the mantle.
Reality: You take countless pics of your partner and the kids using your phone, because of course you forgot the camera at home. It doesn't matter, because every picture you manage to take includes someone blinking, crying or running out of the frame. You also forgot to factor in that whole person-taking-the-photo-doesn't-get-to-be-in-the-picture issue. In the pictures you are in, your hair is all over the place and it's practically R-rated because you are leaning over to grab a kid before they jump off a hay bale and break their neck. You tell yourself it's probably for the best, because any picture you hang up they will just find a way to knock down anyway.
Expectation: The children will toddle through the field, while holding your hand, their little faces lit up with wonder and delight at seeing all the pumpkins. You and your partner will share a laugh when they try to pick up one that is larger than they are. The kids will listen calmly and rationally when you lead them over to the smaller gourds. You'll leave with a medium sized pumpkin for the grownups to carve over a glass of wine and two mini pumpkins the children carry themselves with proud smiles.
Reality: As soon as you unstrap him from his car seat, one kid takes off like a sprinter. The other takes two steps then squats down to sample various grass and leaves. You and your partner play rock, paper, scissor to determine who gets to work up a sweat and who gets to stand around saying "No, yucky!" So much for meaningful conversation. The kids love the pumpkins, that much is true. They also drop them, fall on them and cause a path of destruction that ends only when you grab the first pumpkin you see which looks round-ish. Unable to let your fantasy die, you also snag a couple tiny pumpkins, and then you curse yourself as you try to juggle a wiggling child and slippery gourds to the cashier stand without dropping anything.
Expectation: You will take a whimsical hay ride where the kids will bounce on your lap with delight and fellow pumpkin lovers will comment on how adorable your family is.
Reality: One child is terrified of the loud tractor and spends the entire ride crying and doing his best impression of a boneless spare rib in desperate bid for freedom. The other child behaves, but is allergic to hay. He spends the ride sneezing, rubbing his red little eyes and giving you what you swear are reproachful looks.
Expectation: The whole family will sit together on a bench, overlooking the fields and feeling the crisp breeze as you enjoy apple cider doughnuts. The kids will share a doughnut, because they will be too enthralled by their surroundings to care about sugar.
Reality: You've miscalculated the timing for the kids' lunch and nap, so they are now having a meltdown fueled by equal parts hunger and exhaustion. You grab two boxes of doughnuts on the way out and don't realize until you get to the car that only one box is delicious apple cider flavored treats and the other is nasty plain unfrosted ones. You and your partner each take a box to stress eat as you drive home. Occasionally you fling a (plain) doughnut into the back seat because it stops the screaming.
Expectation: We are never doing this again.
Reality: You'll be back again next year, convinced that a year's worth of maturing will make your dream of the perfect Autumn family outing attainable. And if not- well, at least there's still apple cider doughnuts.
(Image:Irina Schmidt /Shutterstock)