Late again

I cried in the car on the way home this morning. One of those mornings you hope a neighbor isn’t traveling the same route you are.

And I’m writing about it not in a fit of self-pity (oh, I detest those) but because in this universal human experience, I am sure I am not alone. I know some of you will read this and realize you have a compadre out there in me. And for some reason, that helps both of us. So here goes.

I dropped my youngest off as usual. But I was squealing into the schoolyard on two wheels, giving him barely a minute to run to his classroom before being marked tardy. Oh, and I dropped him off in the forbidden spot, the one our head of school likes to send copious long memos about—I believe his last one to the parent body threatened police action. I am glad the crazy old coot and I did not see each other this morning or it probably would not have been pretty on either end. I am sure my end would have involved some harsh words about focusing more on teachers and curriculum than parking and drop-off locations.

Concept of time with businessman that hold an alarm clock
We were late. Not technically, but in reality.

My beleaguered point is: we were late. Not technically, but in reality.

And that is not the way I want to start my son’s days.

Rarely do I admit defeat. Rarely. But I am today. I am tired. Crispy fried. I seem to disappoint myself, my kids, and some who love me. I saw my son’s face—the stress and anger, heard “late again” from him—and I can’t blame him. He was up. On time. Ready to go. And I was barely able to drag myself out of bed because I am so exhausted. Not because of a bad day or two. Because of a schedule that is too much for me.

We all have days like this, no? But when the days turn into weeks or months, we need to take stock.

For instance, I need to admit I am not a one-woman rescue operation. For the three years since my divorce (and if I’m honest, a couple of years before that), I have worked the equivalent of three to four jobs. A couple corporate with some freelance journalism sprinkled in there for good measure. Oh, and I’ve built a blog, as I try to amass a following for what I really love—which is connecting with all of you through the one thing I do really well, writing.

I don’t do any of this because I have some need for wealth or recognition. I do it to keep my house, my youngest in the only school he has ever known, a life for us, to follow a creative dream. I do it without financial help from my ex in any real way.

And I’m tired. If one more person asks me for one more thing, I feel as if I will shatter like glass onto the floor. Some of you, I know, know this feeling all too well. I happen to be one of those gals who doesn’t really show it. I look cool as a cucumber most days.

Shattered Head front viewHa.

It seems, on days like today, that everyone has their own agenda. They all want something. The campaign at school that wants money I don’t have to do things I will have no say in. The person at work who wants the promotion, the deadline met, the kudos, and needs me to do the work to make them look good. My child, sweet boy, who just wants a mom who gets up on time and makes a proper breakfast.

This, too, shall pass, as my mother used to say. But not if I continue to do as I’ve done. Some changes are in order. So I wake up energized, refreshed, on time. So the word “no” reenters my vocabulary.

I will begin by showing up for my youngest’s basketball game after school. By giving him the thumbs up and a smile, no matter how he plays. By asking about his day and getting us a decent dinner, home-cooked or not (most likely not). By doing what I’ve done for several years, being the solid force in his life. Showing up, being there, no matter what. That’s what I do. And most days, I’ve perfected it.

What I have not perfected is giving myself a flipping break. I am still paying for someone else’s mistakes. I am still trying to give us the life two incomes used to give us.

And I am tired.

A shout-out to all the moms and dads doing it solo, especially the ones for whom the solo bit is not always apparent to the outside world.

We are the glue. It has to stick. Because being “late again” is not something my son deserves.

I think of the people I know—qualified, solid people—who got to the point that they couldn’t get out of bed anymore. Working themselves into breakdowns, heart attacks and the like. Most of them movers and shakers. Most of them falling apart while no one else had a clue.

It makes “late again” seem not so bad. And yet, I think I’ll aim higher.

Rested and happy sound about right.



52 Comments Add yours

  1. One day your son will keep his own alarm and make his and your breakfast. I have done it and yours will too.

    That day, do not cry about the fact that you could not do your part but cry about the fact that your youngest has grown.

    Good luck Kay!

    1. candidkay says:

      So sweet of you to say. He actually does keep his own alarm now. Amazing, as I’m not much of an early bird:). And you’re right–he is growing too fast!

  2. You remind me of the period in my life when I was divorced and struggling to keep body and soul together. Looking back on how I did it never fails to astound me and in fact, makes me proud of how I handled it. There were rough days, mind you, but all in all I believe I got through it intact and better for it. I hope you have brighter days ahead. Hugs!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much for the encouragement. It helps to hear from those beyond these days. Truly.

  3. srbottch says:

    They say the ‘struggle’ makes you a better person. Not sure about that, myself. Do you feel better? I used to have a neighbor, an old coot (what I am now) who would say, “Stevie, it’s none of my business, but…”, and then go on to give his advice. I often took it because he was an experienced old coIt and I was a dumb whippersnapper (someday, I’ll Google ‘whippersnapper’). So, “It’s none of my business, but…start with the boy walking or taking the school bus, if either is an option”. There, you’re on your way to struggling less. No need to thank me. I’m just carrying on the tradition of wise old coots. Oh, and go dancing, it’s a stress reliever. 😉

  4. koehlerjoni says:

    I can relate to this post, because I’ve had children, cried in the car at my own perceived inadequacies, and railed at authority’s petty rules. My kid are grown now, so I can offer three statements that may bring comfort.
    1. One day your son will tell you how smart, capable, and caring you are. When he’s 25 or so, so I don’t know how long you will have to wait. It will happen though, I promise.
    2. Your husband is the one who will have to live with the regret of not filling the role you are now compensating for. You will not have those regrets ( in the big scheme, late for school is not even a misdemeanor ) and can look back on this time with self-respect and pride. As for the ex- time wounds all heels.
    3. For me, 4 hours on the bed with a good book in my hands is quite palliative. If the book has absolutely no socially redeeming qualities, all the better.

    1. candidkay says:

      I love the good book prescription! Did that tonight with The Tender Bar and it was heaven. I hope with maturity for my sons also comes wisdom. Helpful to hear from someone further down the curve:$. Thank you!

  5. You are doing a difficult job all around, but you are doing it as well as humanly possible. Write yourself a post about the many things you do and do well. You don’t have to share it with us. Write about yourself in the third person. You are a remarkable woman and parent, my dear.

    1. candidkay says:

      You put a tear in my eye, Cynthia. Thank you. I may just do that and tape it to my bathroom mirror so I am forced to remind myself each morning!

  6. As others have said I wish I could offer some help as I know EXACTLY how you feel. The problem is… do you get out of the “tired” hell? I remember it seeming insurmountable. Like you just need the world to just stop for a coupe of days. All I can offer is stay healthy and do whatever is needed to keep your sanity. Oh, and your son has probably already forgotten he was late.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s so nice to know other people get it. Helps you feel less alone when the feeling hits. And yes, the world being put on hold for a month would be ok right now:). But you’re right–eating healthy and exercise–the stuff that keeps me up and running, more important than ever right now. Thank you for the kind words!

  7. I identified with the post. It has been a very tough week for me. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      I am so sorry. I don’t wish days/weeks/months/years like this on anyone! I hope you had a good cry and a good drink (whatever that is for you). And stopped thinking for a bit. Shutting off my mind for pieces of time helps immensely.

  8. Gabrielle Finnan says:

    Oh, and if it is any comfort, I write these comments at 6:20 PM as I sport my pajamas, robe and slippers which I have been wearing since I started working at 6:00 am. …and I have to be at school in 20 minutes for a confirmation mtg and still need to shower. Oh how I wish I had the u know what to go to the meeting dressed as I am! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words across the miles. Funny how so many of us go through this stuff and yet the outside world has nary a clue. You made me laugh with the work attire:). I did manage to get out of pajamas and robe but yoga pants have been du jour this week–and finally got a shower!

  9. Gabrielle Finnan says:

    Hang in! Must be something in the air, perhaps the full or almost full moon I think I saw last evening because even with a partner and two teenage boys who can and do help, I thiught I was having a nervous break down last week! A little better this week after same soul searching you are doing right now. Point is u r not alone and hope that deep breathing and long hard look at what you can take off your plate, or find a way to make easier if it must stay, will become clear. It’s tough so hope it improves. It will but sometimes hard to see the way. Hopefully writing about it cathartic and half the battle.

  10. Yes, you are right Kay, it teaches us to say that 2 letter word ‘no’, AND more importantly, it is in loving ourselves first by saying it. We don’t say no because of what we feel others will think of us.
    Expectations, from others or ourselves, are the root of our problems. Let them go…or more importantly, understand ‘why’ we think they, or us, have those expectations in the first place. Why do we feel that we are not living up to some level….it usually comes back to us, and something within us feeling a low sense of worth, non acceptance or rejection if we don’t do what is being asked….by us or them. And in that, we then only project AND attract what we are.
    If we are not in the right place, along comes the lesson to show us. Be loving to ourselves…by saying no…and learn to do what I struggled with…prioritise the important stuff (those that we love), and let go of the other ‘stuff’.
    In the end I would rather live in a shack but have my family close, than live in a palace and can’t find the time or energy to even visit them. That love outlasts everything, with it or without it, it leaves its mark.
    Great post, thank you for sharing your journey Kay, much wisdom on your path…now get some sleep 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear your words and I know they ring true, Mark. And yet, so hard to be consistent when you feel it’s all on you. But you’re right. I would rather have those I love close than do what I’ve had to in past–which is work and put them second and third. Now, about that sleep . . . :).

  11. Your post will resonate with many who are doing it tough. Finding time to rejuvenate your energy is the answer, but doing it is the difficult part. I hope you can find time to replenish and nurture yourself, so you have lots to give those you love. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). Wise words. Working on the more being/less doing part.

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Kristine you gotta start being selfish, look after yourself for a change, or you’ll be no good for anyone. Life’s too short, you’ll find a way.

    1. candidkay says:

      I won’t quibble with any of it, Roy:). I think I’m realizing that very thing.

  13. I’m sorry. Here’s a thought: imagine you’re in a lifeboat and start throwing overboard anything you don’t need. Get rid of everything that gives less than you give. Allow yourself time and space to be happy. Life is short. You deserve to enjoy it too.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love the lifeboat analogy! I’m using it! Owe you one:).

  14. This is so good, raw, and honest. I have a lot of single moms infused into my life and sometimes I am tired for them just by being with them and thinking about all they do in a single day. At that point, I don’t try to give advice or pontificate with bullet points of wisdom but just BE with them. Somehow, someway, you are going to have to breathe and spend some time with God and trust that in the chaos of life and the day to day, He can inject peace and rest even though it seems impossible right now.

    1. candidkay says:

      He and I are having some heart to hearts right now, that’s for sure:). I hope that the just being bit helps them just be. I can’t remember the last time I did that . . .

  15. Janni Styles says:

    Go easy on yourself, daily life can be overwhelming especially when we are already tired. Gentle hugs and refreshing rest wished your way.

    1. candidkay says:

      I will take both! Thank you for the kind words and for reading.

  16. Jackie says:

    As a childless person I can’t directly relate, but it sounds like you are a wonderful mother – you’re doing everything you can to make a wonderful life for your kids and for you. I hope you can give yourself a break, and know that everyone who reads this supports you – even we childless society bloodsuckers 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Why thank you, you childless bloodsucker, you:). Learn to be good to yourself now so if that status ever changes, you can fit it all in! And if not, being good to yourself is always nothing but net, right?

  17. Excellent post Kay! You are right that there are many who can relate! My sixteen year old told me this morning that she learned it was OK to be late because I’m a bad example. Oy! And I AM a bad example when it comes to that. I don’t like that I’m late but don’t seem to be able to get it together to change it. I tell her that one day, when she’s a parent, she can be perfectly on time (or even early) for her children. But that if she’s on time it probably means that something else won’t be perfect!

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re right. It’s a balancing act:). We get one bit right and the next bit goes. Sigh. But I love your attitude–she has to be learning from that!

      1. Let’s hope so! 🙂 Hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day 🙂

  18. Maybe ask him to fix lunch too? And you can fix lunch on special days? Like a treat for him but will give you a break? I would love more helping hands myself. You are doing the best you can…this is a good life lesson for your son to see– that even the best of us burn out and have to regroup! Hang in there!!

    1. candidkay says:

      You are so right about the life lesson! I think I remember the days his older brother had where I had more time/energy and wish it for this one also. But that is guilt talking, right?

      1. Total guilt talking. I have one kid and I feel burnt out sometimes. Lately in fact…feeling exactly what you wrote as I work a full-time job and a freelance writing job (so almost 2 full-time gigs) and finish up my divorce. I think to myself how I wish I didn’t feel so tired or I wish I didn’t do X,Y, or Z…I beat myself up…I think the fact that we care so much and think so much about how we parent is a good sign we are good moms!! It’s not easy to run the show alone. I wish you an easier day 🙂

      2. candidkay says:

        Wow! I feel like I’m hearing from myself. I get the double full-time gigs and all that comes with that. And I beat myself up too far too often. Wishing you a glass of your favorites bubbly or warm drink tonight with feet up, and nothing but gratitude.

      3. Thank you!! Much love and chocolate to you!!

  19. Elaine says:

    You are awesome! Yes, it’s hard to be awesome but you do it well! I’d like to say take time to take care of yourself, but in reality the day is only so long. There’s hardly any time. So, take a deep breath and think about your loveable, wonderful boys who you are awesome for. That will get you through the really crappy days. Eventually, you will have some time for yourself but until that time comes, think of their smiles and hugs and how happy they are (because of you)!

    1. candidkay says:

      Another good reminder. From a good person:). Thank you, friend!

    2. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone in this great struggle I call my life. In full, it is the life of a mother, the life of a partner, the life of trying, fighting, wanting so hard to make everyone’s days and nights a little better so they might live the dreams they harbor. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is okay to cry on the way home. And yes, this too shall pass.

      1. candidkay says:

        Neither of us is alone:). I guess that’s the beauty in it. And when I remember all the other people out there doing it, I am reminded I can. Thanks so much for commenting–means a lot.

  20. I hear you! Would it be unreasonable to expect more from your ex and from your son? Can your son get his own breakfast? I remember getting my own breakfast starting around 8 or so because my mother’s work had her out late nights (professional musician). Can you ex contribute more financially, after all, is he taking your son to school in the morning? Is he there for the basketball games? I only ask these because you yourself admit to doing too much for too long. I totally understand crying in the car. Done it too many times (for other reasons) myself. And yes, sometimes that’s all we need in that moment; a release. Like a pressure relief valve: when pressure builds up to a certain point, the valve opens to relieve pressure. Just keep your valve in good repair so there isn’t a blowout in the future. Hugs to you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh yes, you’ve been there, haven’t you? Thanks for that:). So many people don’t admit they have. My son has been really great, overall. He does get own breakfast and I fix his lunch. I think that just makes his lunch feel more special. My ex–well, I won’t go into it here but I have asked for more help in getting to school, etc. It’s not happening. Oy. Enough said. It’s on me right now and a marathon, not a sprint, right?

  21. I wish I could offer you constructive words of advice, or bring you over a home cooked meal and a glass of wine to help remove just one stress, even just momentarily, from your day. But instead, I just want to say, you are courageous and admirable for trying to do it all, but remember sometimes you don’t have to do it all and life will be okay. And of course, among the race of life, remember to be kind to yourself.

    1. candidkay says:

      Such a good reminder! That life will be okay even if I screw it up:). Not something I’m told often and I thank you for it . . .

  22. George says:

    You need to do what you must for your some but you also need to do what’s best for you in order to be the best you can be for him. Unfortunately, taking care of yourself always seems to be placed on the back shelf, doesn’t it. Much credit to you, Kay, for doing all you do with the right intentions in mind. Just don’t forget to take care of yourself in the process…:)

    1. candidkay says:

      The oxygen mask airline example comes to mind, George. You need to be able to breathe and think clearly before you can help others do so, right? Thank you for the kind words.

  23. I wish we lived closer to each other. I would cook you a meal now and then. Give yourself a treat: get a mani-pedi Ans R-E-L-A-X for an hour.

    1. candidkay says:

      Very sweet of you–and I would take you up on it! Funny you should mention a pedi–had that very thought last night:).

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