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.