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.
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.
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.