Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This Mom is OK-Enough

Photo Credit
I find this parenting thing tough. I’m an expert in Mom Math; but other than that, I’m pretty a remedial student in the School of Motherhood. I’m not talking about the physical fatigue that rides shotgun with parenting. The running around, lugging laundry baskets, chasing basketballs down the street, getting in the car and out of the car and in the car and out of the car, and myriad of other Boot Camp-like maneuvers of parenting I can handle.  It’s the mental and emotional grunt work that has me heaving a heavy sigh most days.

I guess it would be like cruising through life dragging a giant tire behind you. Oh, and this tire is attached to a chain that’s strapped across your chest, making it hard to breathe, weighing you down and yanking you back when you are trying to move forward.  That massive tire has a name, by the way.  Its name is GUILT.
Is that the new Guilt Workout? I've read about that.
It's supposed to be so good for you legs and butt!
Photo Credit

As if making decisions (big and small) isn’t difficult enough! I have to do it with this giant thing hanging off me! Did I make the right decision? Should I have considered more options? Was I too hard? Was I too soft? Did I explain myself enough? Did I explain myself too much? Was I consistent? Was I too rigid?

Those are just the thoughts that plague me when I make a decision I’m pretty sure about.  Don’t even get me started on the mind games that begin when I am pretty certain there’s a strong possibility I blew it!

And what about all the other things I feel guilty about? The times I lose my shnizzle and yell at my kids just because I’m in a bad mood. What about the days I let them watch TV. until their eyeballs fall out of their heads? And let’s not forget the 10 ton pile of guilt trailing behind my car anytime I drive away from an establishment that provides food through a window.
However, none of the chest crushing guilt trips (literally and figuratively) that stem from indecisiveness or poor decisions comes close to the robe-tearing, teeth gnashing guilt I feel when I’ve totally and completely dropped the ball and epically failed. Like I did today.
For those of you not “in the know” today was the 100th Day of School for my children.  (Please note the fact that this piece of news determines my “in the know” factor saddens me.  I used to be somewhat cool.  Well, marginally cooler than I am now, at least.) You lucky parents with school-aged kids know that the 100th Day of School has become quite the big deal.  (Again, please note my life’s pathetic factor.) Schools around the country memorialize this momentous day with parties, treats and a whole laundry list of Pinterest-worthy activities.  Just Google it- you’ll be amazed how many ideas are out there. (On the bright side, I might be a loser for being “in the know” but at least I didn’t Pin or Post “10,001 100th Day of School Craft Ideas!”)

 A recent 100th Day activity I’ve seen getting some play is the “dress up like a 100 year old person.” Any of you seen those pictures floating around Facebook lately? They’re actually quite cute.  Little people with gray hair, using canes and walkers and wearing glasses.  Wait a minute, I have gray hair and wear glasses…
Anyway, last week I received an email from my 1st grader’s teacher informing us we would be celebrating the 100th Day of School by bringing 100 into the classroom.  They’d be working with numbers totaling 100 in Math.  100 words would be written for Spelling. As a class they would read 100 stories! But the piece de resistance would be 17 little 1st graders dressed up as an elderly person.  Or, a mom in her late 30’s… whatever.
I read the email. I made a mental note.  I mentally perused our costume bins upstairs to determine if we had anything100 year old-like.  I considered heading to Party City in search of a wig.  And then… I was distracted by work, or football practice, or homework, or dinner prep or, well, lint on the floor.  Who know what exactly derailed me from my Old Man costume musings.  But I was derailed nonetheless.  And the whimsical ideas of a tiny suit jacket and pen-drawn wrinkles disappeared into the ether until…
I received the following email at 12:39 yesterday afternoon We have had a wonderful morning!  We all made 100 math facts and 100 words.  We have counted by 2's, 5's and 10's to 100.  We have divided 100 donuts holes and 100 suckers with our class!  What wonderful Students!!!!”
Ooooooooohhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiittttt!
Today was the 100th Day of School and I totally and completely forgot. 
My kid happily went to school after an oddly smooth morning during which neither of my children needed a reminder to brush his teeth or grab a jacket (This should have been my first hint of impending doom) only to realize that everybody else dressed up and he didn’t because his mom is experiencing delayed short term memory loss due to potentially excessive partying despite her mother’s warnings her junior year in college.
Bring on the guilt. 
To some of you, this is no big deal.  So I forgot.  My kid will live.  He can’t be the only kid of a memory-challenged mother, right? This might be true.  But you are forgetting two very important factors here:
1.      This is my 4th consecutive year serving as a Room Mom and my 3rd year serving as the Elementary Room Mom Chair… for the entire elementary school.  Forgetting things is not in the job description.

2.      I may or may not have a secret fear that I have early onset Alzheimer’s.  (Please don’t send me hateful comments about making light of the tragic disease that is Alzheimer’s.  I know how painful that disease is.  And I’m not kidding when I say that I have a hypochondriac-like fear that I might have it.)
You see a year ago, I would have had “100th Day of School!!!” plastered all over my calendars- yes “calendarsssss”, plural, as in multiple, possibly 3.  I would have had a smiley face and maybe excessive exclamation marks and I would have sent out a reminder email to the parents in my class and maybe even a gentle “Don’t forget” text that morning.  A year ago I was on the ball.  Hell, I was the freaking ball!

But not this year.  This year, I’ve been run over by the ball only to have it circle back, reconfigure itself into a giant tire named Guilt and attach itself to my body.  This year, it doesn’t matter how many calendarsssss I have, how many emails I read or how wonderful my intentions are… my life is just that much more busy and hectic and full of details and minutia that I can’t keep it all straight.  And things, even wonderfully sweet things like the 100th Day of School and my niece selling Girl Scout Cookies, fall through the cracks. 

Girl Scout cookies, permission slips, football practice, grocery store...!
(I couldn't resist the most iconic "being chased by a ball" moment in cinematic history, ok?)

So I spent from 12:39 until 2:45 tearing up and berating myself for dropping the ball.  I convinced my early onset Alzheimer’s was not an irrational fear.  I lambasted myself for not writing it down.  I cried because I’m not “That Mom” any longer. Instead I’m “This Mom” and “This Mom” forgets much more than she ever did and the things she does remember must be written on a Post-It Note AND calendarsssssss. And even then, it’s highly probable “This Mom” will only remember at the last possible moment and she’ll be flying out the door, cursing herself and having to make one extra stop at the store just to grab the party item she signed up to bring.
So with a heavy heart I pulled up at school at 2:45 and apologetically faced my 1st grader.

Hey buddy.
Hey Mom.
I totally dropped the ball and forgot it was the 100th Day of School.
I’m really really sorry.  Are you mad?
I was at first. But then I remembered I had a beard in my pencil box so I just put that on.  It was awesome. So it’s cool.
Wow, I’m so glad to hear th…. Wait, what? You had a beard in your pencil box?
Yeah.  It was perfect.  I totally looked like an old guy.  It was awesome. Oh and I got to eat 5 donut holes and 5 lollipops. This was the best 100th Day of School ever!

The moral of the story… I’m doing Ok-Enough at this Motherhood thing.  My kid was resourceful and pulled out his spare beard he keeps in his pencil box. (WTF?) I had a hand in teaching him to be resourceful.  He happily enjoyed his junk food that created a layer of scrunge on his teeth that he dutifully brushed when he returned home from school. I definitely had a hand in teaching him the awesomeness of candy and the importance of good oral hygiene.  And at the end of the day, in spite of his lack of gray hair and cane, he looked back on this day with joy and contentment.  He didn’t need it to be perfect in order for it to be great. And maybe, just maybe, I had a hand in that too. 

I might have the short term memory of a 100 year old woman, but I’m doing Ok- Enough at this Motherhood gig.
That’s just my normal.


OhBoyMom said...

I'm the queen of feeling the mom-guilt...if I told you how many school photo days I sent my boys to school in ratty looking t-shirts (because I forgot), you'd feel a lot better. Doing ok-enough is all we moms can do and we should at least try to let go of some of that guilt...NO ONE can do it all - remember that!

Susan Maccarelli said...

LOVED THIS! I did see a 100th day of school pic on facebook recently and had never heard of celebrating that before (mine are not quite old enough for school yet). The spare beard IS hilarious. I would have felt just like you since I am usually on top of everything, but lately I too feel overwhelmed by the minutia. Great post!

Pam Houghton said...

Nice post! Now that our kids are away at college, I think the number one, most important thing we provided was stability. Even though I was constantly berating myself for all my mistakes and imperfections. So...make all the mistakes you need. I'm sure you are a spot-on mom, Vicki!

Anonymous said...

This post makes me tear up and made my jaw drop-- he really had a SPARE BEARD in his pencil box?!?!
God bless you, your hectic, brain numbing schedule, and your resourceful son!

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