I had a minor meltdown in the parking lot of school today. Sean and I were heading in to collect Avery and Finley. I had promised to take them to the library today, not at their request, it was completely driven by me. I wanted to do it. I have managed a couple of trips to the library now and each time it’s tickled at some of the most golden memories, unformed and impossible to articulate though they are. I wanted to do this, to have this one time when I said I was going to do something and actually follow through. I didn’t want to be late, I didn’t want to postpone. I wanted to take my kids to the damn library.
Then one thing after another happened that led to my day shifting 30 minutes in the wrong direction. It was 40 minutes later than I wanted it to be when we got there. My heart wanted to carry the girls across the street to the library, my head knew they needed naps and that Briar’s pick up time would be upon us before we knew it. I whimpered about the limbo of it all. I am not a stay-at-home mom. I am not a work-outside-of-the-home 40 hours a week mom. It’s a tired subject for me. I said that I wished that I could go back to how it felt to work in the office until 5:50 and not get home from the store until 6:30. It was a dead sprint and when I managed to negotiate leaving in the afternoon I worshipped every second.
My gratitude is hard to connect with now as the theoretically shorter work day is the norm. But still the emails come, still my need to prove my continued worth is there. Guilt meets drive meets ideal meets heartache. My shoulders slumped as I felt the thought of “It’s always a game of catch up” devolve into “It’s always an apology.”
“Let’s do it tomorrow. I’ll come with you,” he said.
“I said we’d go today.”
“Don’t tell them.”
“I’ll know. It was supposed to be today. They’ll ask.” I was beginning to crack.
“Lets just try not mentioning it.”
I slumped my shoulders and nodded. My sense of failure choked me, but I felt confident that the girls would protest pitifully and then demand to do it. “But mama, you promised.” I resolved to throw reason out the window when it happened, we’d just go, naps be damned.
And then they didn’t. Not a peep about the library, just sweet chatter and sleepy eyes. Somehow this hurt me even more, a part of me thinking that they’d expected the failure. I drove home slowly, regretfully, but mostly carefully. Sometimes I watch them through the rear-view mirror and find myself hoping that a more present me will be reflected in the mirror. The furrow of my brow, the omni-present distraction of the have-tos, they scream back at me. Even when I am here, part of me is there and I’ve ceased to know why or for whom.
I tucked the girls into bed. They feel asleep without a fight. I crept downstairs, I think to weep. Then Sean sent me an email. It lived up to its subject line: Rambling. It also touched on so many things I wouldn’t have imagined. I know that I am currently stuck in an icy rut, sharp edges and slick middles making it impossible to navigate in the directions and speed I want.
His hand and their soft, measured breathing as they slept are where I need to focus. This time isn’t predictable or subject to rigid design, it’s chaotic and haphazard, exquisite and unbelievable. I know that some of that is also a reflection of me. And so tonight I am forgiving myself for my own unruliness and trusting that as the ice melts, a softer, more exquisite self will emerge.
Go easy on yourself. I know how you feel and truth be told, while it’s easy for me to say this to you, I am similarly hard on myself.
I thought this NYT post I read today on self compassion was great:
This made sense to me, that self compassion is not lowering your standards:
“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.”
Hope to see you soon, Amanda. You’re not alone–not in this struggle, juggle–nor at home since you have Sean. Nice to see and gives me hope. xomk
Our lives mirror each other at the moment Amanda. I understand the guilt and sense of failure. Hurry up and be good…at everything. That is my mandate. And DON’T FAIL!
Thank goodness for little eyes that don’t see it. Isn’t it nice to see yourself through those eyes sometimes.
Another lovely blog. xx
Our parallels frighten me at times.
I wish you peace and love and the knowledge that you’re not alone; that under this chaotic tundra lies a soothing river, flowing smoothly along, humming the song of life.
i feel you so much on this one Amanda.
I am in much the same boat!
thanks for sharing your feelings and articulating them so well!
The girls weren’t sleeping peacefully because they were resigned to the fact that their mom had failed. They were sleeping peacefully because they have a mom who always keeps her promises, doesn’t matter if they’re not exactly on time. You have a good partner. Trust him when he smooths out the rough edges.
So much in the same place right now. (except not with the naps…mine stopped napping YEARS ago, but they certainly get tired!)
With the flexibility of my business, I am lucky to spend as much time with my boys as I do, but it is always there, nagging the back of my mind, splitting my attention. I find myself saying “maybe” instead of yes or no because I honestly do not know these days.
I want to say yes every time, I want to indulge and enjoy, but at the same time, sometimes I just want 5 minutes to zone out and breathe.
Sometimes I think it would just be easier to be at work all day, home for dinner then bedtime rituals. But I know that wouldn’t fix, it would just move guilt and such around.
Babe. I wish that you could see yourself through these eyes. Your girls don’t expect failure from you…they are just comforted by your very presence. How could they not be?
Your kids don’t expect failure from you, but don’t teach them to expect perfection either. Moms are human too, you are SO hard on yourself! You are a wonderful mom, truly. Look at your girls, they are the proof.
“This time isn’t predictable or subject to rigid design, it’s chaotic and haphazard, exquisite and unbelievable.”
Oh such true words. I feel this daily. I don’t even have a part time work out of the home thing. Heck, not even a part time in the house work thing. I still can’t get to it all. Can’t do the things I want to do with and for the girls when I want. Can’t do the things for myself that I want. I think we need to realize that our kids don’t usually notice the things that we think of as failures.
I talk about balance and my ability to both work and be a stay at home parent. But occasionally I feel the little cracks in my exterior, leaks which I can’t control. Like the moment today, when my ten year old brought up the subject of being home schooled and all I could think of was how much I was looking forward to the work and working out without guilt moments I would have when they are all in school. Ugh. The perspective I gained from the ongoing disaster in Japan makes me gratful in this moment for all that is my life and the cracks are sealed temporarily by the pain and suffering of so many others. I just can’t win. But then, neither can you and so at least I am not alone. This post meant a lot to me today, thank you for touching my heart so softly and reminding me that we are in it together.
Wow. I like to go through old comments on old posts and revisit people I either never connected with or have lost touch with. How did I not have you in my reader? I love your posts. I have been enjoying them all for a while now and want to say that I just adore you.