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21 Promises I Broke as My Son Turns 21

Ah, the broken promises of parenthood. Although my son turned 21 last month (gulp), time hasn't dulled memories of the promises I broke along the way. Here are just a few of the ways I twisted reality to suit the moment—and yes, he remembers them all.

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1. Shots don't hurt

I am pretty sure the epic menu of shots required in order to attend kindergarten proved that this was one big promise I couldn't keep. And he still hates shots even now.

2. We'll go to McDonald's tomorrow

So I may have promised a few times that we would go "tomorrow" and crossed my fingers he would forget.

McDonald's was the holy land for my son when he was young. OK, it still is. But there was a limit on how much of that crap he should eat—and a definite limit to how many times I wanted to go there and endure the crazy of the indoor play area. So I may have promised a few times that we would go "tomorrow" and crossed my fingers he would forget.

3. If you eat this broccoli you will be big and strong

My go-to attempt to counterbalance McDonald's meals was always to offer vegetables for snacks. And while he may be bigger and stronger than when he was at 5 years old, it's long since been established that it wasn't the broccoli.

4. If you eat these carrots you will be big and strong

We had a perpetual bowl of baby carrots on the table for lunch and dinner for most of my kids' childhood. In fact, I just gave it up last year. They cheered.

5. Just try one bite. You'll like it

This went hand-in-hand with the promises that broccoli and carrots would ensure strength and might. And I can't think of one new food I offered my son over the years that he really did like after only one trial bite.

6. We won't be in the car for that long

Anytime a parent has to say this? It's a lie.

7. I just have to grab a few things at the grocery store

That's just not how it works. A "few things" to a new mother who actually made it to the store in real shoes—without forgetting a child at home—may mean a cartload. Who knows when you will be back?

8. I just need to make a few stops on the way home

Pretty sure this was an empty promise from the very first time I uttered it.

Same as above—and I was the master errand-planner. Pretty sure this was an empty promise from the very first time I uttered it.

9. We'll go to the park tomorrow

There are only so many times a mom can hang at the park. Seriously.

10. One day we'll go to LEGOLAND for vacation

OK, I honestly thought this was a promise I could keep. I mean, LEGOLAND is only about a six-hour drive from our house. We never made it. Unless you count the time we briefly pulled into the parking lot near closing time. He was a teenager and we were touring colleges at the time; so yeah, I waited too long to keep that promise.

11. I will only be on the phone for a minute

With one of my BFFs living two time zones away, we could easily spend an hour or more on the phone. But I would never admit that up front, and it didn't take long for my son to figure this one out.

12. I'm sure they will let you play with them

A promise I always hoped would come true—whether at the playground or during recess at school. Sadly, Mom doesn't have a lot of control over this one.

13. The teacup ride is fun! You'll love it


14. The Tilt-a-Whirl is fun! You'll love it


15. Oral surgery isn't that bad

This might have been a feeble attempt to promise myself that caring for the patient after removal of his wisdom teeth wouldn't be that bad. It was.

16. The water isn't that cold

Apparently it was, because it triggered a serious asthma attack. Oops.

17. It's not that hot outside, you'll be fine

It's a pretty cool honor to participate in the annual Memorial Day remembrance at the local cemetery with your fellow Boy Scouts. Not so cool when you pass out and crumple to the ground.

18. We'll get another cat


19. I'll help you with your math

I think I broke this promise somewhere between Geometry and Algebra II. Because OMG, math.

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20. It doesn't look that bad, you won't lose your fingernail

He did.

21. Someday you'll understand

He doesn't now—but I still have hopes that when he's truly a grownup, he will see the wisdom and hidden love behind broken promises.

Image via Twenty20/thekimbots

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