It was already past my youngest daughter’s bed time when I prompted her to gather her uniform for the upcoming softball game. She had everything together except her red game socks. She looked briefly but I assured her that I’d washed them and we would find them in the morning.
The next morning, we didn’t find the red socks. I was aggravated. She was crying when she left for school with her brother and sister. I waved them goodbye and marched back into the house, determined to find those socks. I had five minutes. Not under the bed, not in the dirty laundry pile, not in her brother’s room. No red socks and I had to leave for work. Ten minutes into the drive I realized I hadn’t written a note for her teacher about the change in afternoon pickup arrangements. Could I feel worse about my maternal abilities right now? “It’s ok,” I thought, “I’ll just call the school.”
Seconds later my cell phone rang. It was the school. My daughter went to the office to tell them I forgot to send a note!! By the way, YES, I can feel worse when other people find out about my incompetence. I cried the rest of the way to work. And I was late.
I walked into the office with a big grin on my face and wished my co-workers a good morning. Although it was the “hold back” kind of crying because I didn’t want to ruin my make up, and I dabbed my tears so that my mascara wouldn’t smear, my eyes didn’t lie. Even with a fake smile, I’m sure they weren’t fooled.
I can usually hold it together, but not lately. I think I have “Acute Emotionalosis”, an abnormal condition pertaining to my emotions. Crying one minute, annoyed the next. I’m overly sensitive to songs about only having 100 years to live or kids growing up. Trace Adkin’s song, “You’re Gonna Miss This” does it to me every time, and so does anything by James Blunt. Even commercials cause tears. Have you seen the Subaru commercial with the 7-year-old little girl at the wheel?
And some of the comments my kids have made lately have wrecked my heart. Here are a few:
- “Mom, remember when you used to cook?” (all of them have said this lately)
- “There’s never any food in this house!” (my 15-year-old son and it’s because he eats it all)
- “It’s like you’re not even here!!” (this from my 10-year-old after she caught me studying, again)
- “Have you washed my Leo Club T-shirt?” (my 16-year-old daughter – like she doesn’t know how to wash clothes)
- “How can you go from happy to this so fast?” (another one they’ve all said)
- “My lunch account is negative again.” (my son, notice it’s about food again)
- “Mom, I need two packages of grated cheese for our Spanish class party tomorrow.” (my 16-year-old at 9:30 p.m. and I am so grateful that she’s driving!!)
My kids don’t know that my condition (Acute Emotionalosis) makes me feel like the worst mom ever. Whenever the shorts they want to wear aren’t washed, the toilets aren’t cleaned when one of their friends is over, we don’t have Fritos in the house, or I can’t find the red socks I feel like I’m not being a good mom.
It might have something to do with the fact that I’m working full-time outside the home after being home for ten years. When I was home, I schooled the kids, and taught classes to other homeschooled children. I cooked dinner every evening, my house was mostly clean but the house was always in order when my husband came home from work. I know it sounds “June Cleaverish”, but it worked for us. And I loved it most days. The other days I thought I was ruining my children.
I’ve recently added one more thing to my already overloaded schedule, so that could have brought on my “Acute Emotionalosis”. I’ve decided to take the CPA Exam. It took weeks for me to decide because it means a significant investment of time, but my family is supportive.
Whatever the reasons, I go through phases where I feel like I’m not doing this whole life thing well. I think most women feel that way one time or another. Whether it’s my role as wife, mother, daughter, friend, or employee…..I doubt myself. Sometimes, I KNOW I’m not doing it well.
My husband, although patient while I study for the CPA Exam, feels neglected some days. I’m distracted at work because all I can think about are red socks. I miss my parents because I don’t visit them enough. My house is not as clean as I’d like it to be. And I mess up with my kids all the time. Too harsh at times, too lenient others. I say the wrong things, I’m not always there when they need me, and I’m impatient. I forget to write the check or the note; I shrink their favorite shirts or embarrass them in front of their friends.
I’ve failed at all of it. I’ve disappointed my husband and my kids. I’ve let my parents and friends down. Unfortunately, I will do it again. Thank God they love me anyway.
One way I get through these “phases” is to write about it. Another is to be still, which seems like the least likely thing a busy woman should do, but I do it. I choose to be thankful for all the good things in my life, too. And I try to remember it won’t always be this way. I’m right in the middle of this whole life thing, doing it the best way I know how, and learning how to do it better. I will still feel the sting of failure, but I will take each day as it comes and remember the words to one of my favorite songs, “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World.
“Hey, don’t write yourself off yet. It’s only in your head you feel left out or looked down on. Just do your best, do everything you can. And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say. It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride. Everything, everything will be just fine, everything, everything will be alright, alright.
My daughter did get home safely on the day I forgot her note. And the perfect ending to this story would be to say that I found the red socks and that I’m my daughter’s hero. But I still haven’t found those red socks. Oh well, I’m in the middle.