The day started like any other, the cat meowing in my face, the alarm sounding, and my body begging for more sleep. I popped out of bed as if denying the fatigue would make it go away. Lunches were easy enough to pack because Sean had gone to the store on the way home from work the night before. Nobody called out to me for specific clothes that they needed for school, there were no misplaced folders or missing shoes. We got out the door on time and the teacher cancelled the field trip that would have had us tromping around a pond in the rain.
It was a relatively easy morning, and yet I am sitting in a Starbucks sobbing. Granted I’ve managed to do it it quietly, my face resting in my hand and the tears going from my cheek down the inside of my arm to pool in the sleeve of my shirt so theoretically no one can tell. But, the fact is I am still a 40 year old business owner and mother of three sitting in a Starbucks weeping. I wish I could write one of those funny, relatable, “Isn’t life crazy?!” posts about the end of school year gauntlet, but I can’t.
I don’t want to pretend as if I have any sort of handle on things. I am tired and the mantra I’ve been repeating under my breath, “Just get through this one more” like I do on a run to get myself to go a little bit further, isn’t working. The magnetic clip on the fridge has school events held up like one of those booklets of cartoons that if you flip it will make the characters run in a very disjointed way. I thumb through the papers—
- June 13 x2
- June 14th 2-4:30 Z,
- June 16 yellow +book
- June 17th $2, 10am
- June 19th $4, no lunch, IG BB
- June 23 1/2 no help
- June 24 10:38, 11 Albany, no help
- June 25 B last, 1/2 no, SFGE
The details swim and I don’t recognize the information, are they cryptograms? Who belongs to which?
The storage unit that was only to be kept for a few months has now languished for 3 years. I forgot to send the check. I think someone has a doctor’s appointment. I have things to write, calls to return, and my daughter wants to remember exactly which field trip it was that I missed and I am going to stop by her room when I go to her sister’s thing, right?
I am bewildered that there was no beep, no flashing light to let me know how close to empty I’d gotten. Blogging commitments I had tug at me, I write a post. I think it’s good, it’s about marriage. There have been no deadlines there, no ‘but you promised’ accusations. I show it to Sean and wait.
I got things wrong. He’s hurt. The words I’d thought were true sit in a file on my desk top titled That’s All, I add “wrong” when I see it.
Turns out I did miss some things with him too. I’m utterly crestfallen at how comprehensively I am failing, almost like I’m trying.
They’re playing rainy music at Starbucks, songs that lift memories of divorce like steam, aches of not fitting in and the tears come harder. For every two things I remember or finish, there seem to be dozens more that have slipped, teetering on the verge of too late.
Yesterday on the drive to school Finley said something about me not doing something again and I spoke before I thought, “You know Fin, when you say that it makes me feel like you think that I am doing a bad job as a mom.” She immediately and astutely said things to soothe me, not apologetic, matter of fact but also knowing. I gnashed my teeth and wished to take the words back. I’ve got a six year old caught in the web of guilt. Rock meet bottom.
I don’t want to be at Starbucks crying, but I think I need it. Like the pollen that’s been coating our region, I think I’ve been caked in a thick film of too much and it’s time to clean it off so that I can see again.
The tears in a coffee shop scene is a familiar one. Sometimes the world is too damn heavy for our shoulders. Wouldn’t it be great if the load got light once in a while? But it doesn’t, we just get stronger, and I don’t know many women stronger than you, Amanda. Let it all crash to the ground, it’s perfectly ok, and it’ll be there when you’re ready to pick it all up again.
I wish I could help, but the best I can do is send long distance hugs. If time and solitude could be donated like canned food I’d give you everything I got. Hang in there.
You are a gift, Ang. When this comment came through I collapsed, but also, I’ve decided (because I am obsessed with The Good Wife) that you are kind of like my Kalinda—an amazing bad ass.
I love you, AM. Would that I were with you in Sbux so that you could vent. Tomorrow will be better.
Would be lovely. Thanks.
Oh, Amanda, I relate, I’ve been there, I AM there. I also feel terrible that what we asked you to write has triggered hurt in Sean – I’m sorry, so sorry, please drop it, forget it, it’s not important! That’s the last thing I want. I am 100% certain you aren’t failing as comprehensively as you think, anywhere near it, but I also know the feeling and denying it won’t make it go away. All I can do is send you lots of love and I wish I was nearby. xoxox
Damn. I’m so sorry to hear you are having a rough go at what feels like everything. But I echo Lindsey’s sentiment: it’s not as bad as you think it is. It never really is. I’ve said something similar to my daughter on more than one occasion. I’m not proud of it and always have instant regret, but I try to tell myself that maybe, just maybe, she will remember it in the context of days she might have like that if/when she is a professional/wife/mother someday, and know that she is not alone or failing. None of us are. We can only take so much. We are humans, not the Hoover Dam. Hang in there. Breathe.
I don’t wish those feelings on you at all, but I have a surge of empathy going through me and I’m feeling such relief in knowing that someone I admire can feel this way sometimes, too.
This reminds me of Wile E. Coyote, hanging in the air like everything’s fine and juggling it all — just until you look down, and that’s when you fall.
Couple nights ago after Henry went to bed, I just laid in bed on my phone for four hours like a vegetable. Work, parenting, life, same worries you talk about in this post.
The next morning I ignored my towering pile of duties to make time for a good talk with some friends and suddenly I feel like a freshly washed pollen-covered car. Asking for help; airing out the fact that you’re stressed, relieves the stress. (I’m sure I’m not saying anything you don’t already know, but maybe it helps to hear it from an outside voice.)
This morning Henry was trying to hold too many toys at once and he was getting frustrated at not being able to. That hit me right in the face. It’s so literal, the answer – just to realize it’s not important to hold them all at the same time. Did you see Mark Frost’s Scoop this week where he said that his dad told him a B grade is passing, too? That really got me, too.
I’m saying it to you, but I’m really saying it to me, too — Forgive yourself for only having two hands to juggle with.
I hope you can make some time for you, maybe hang with some girlfriends, figure out where to pare down responsibilities or let go of perfection and feel refreshed soon. You’re an amazing force, Amanda.
Thank you, Kate. Awesome advice.
You are a brave and wonderful woman. Thank you for more incredible honesty. It reminded me that I wanted to share something with you. I read this the other day and it moved me and I thought you would like it also. I was reading Annie Dillard and she was talking about her childhood. The headmistress of her school, Marian Hamilton, and her parents, wanted Dillard to go to college in the South to smooth off her rough edges. But, as she says in An American Childhood, “I had hopes for my rough edges. I wanted to use them as a can opener, to cut myself a hole in the world’s surface and exit through it.” Love and hugs, Athena.
Oh, I love this. Thank you.
I was feeling down all morning, guilty for how I’ve been raising my voice a lot lately. How my patience with my children seems to have dwindled. Sometimes I think we don’t even realize the toll external events take on our core. Too much tragedy in the news, the emotional exhaustion of another year winding down…
I saw that you were planning to contribute a Here Year post on marriage, and I confess I was anxiously awaiting, looking forward to reading. I do not in any way mean to add pressure or guilt, of course. What I mean to say is simply that there are people out there you hardly know who are moved, often, by your words and your example. If it helps at all. I just wanted you to know.
I do think I’ll still write something. It was a good, if jarring realization. It isn’t always easy, but I am committed to sharing more of these moments (good and bad) because I think all too often we ping about as if we are all alone. We aren’t. There are so many universals, even if they are dressed in different clothes. Thank you.
I know you know I was many years often where you find yourself , weeping somewhere inappropriate. For me it was the produce aisle. Or the moment when a receptionist said, May I help you? And it felt like kindness, and it pierced my stoicism.
Carry on beautiful warrior, generous soul, but stop a bit more, love yourself as I do, and sing your own praises of the multitude of everything you get right. And do weep now and then, openly.
I get this. Who among us doesn’t feel this? You are doing this but just don’t forget to come up for air 🙂
The post: profound for all I find similar to where I am now….the comments: so heart-warming…..how I wish I could plan to meet each or all of you at my nearest Strbx and spend a few hours laughing, crying and just connecting on this life journey ….alas, not today, so I will continue to live through these beautiful blogs you share.
I haven’t even been reading for long, but I want to send some love and compassion your way. Because I know what you’re talking about. My mother-in-law recently told me to stop worrying about not being an effective parent to my four year old, two year old twins, and seven month old. I was convinced that I was doing something wrong, and they were acting out because of me. But I realized, it’s a phase. It’s part of life. And life is busy and complicated right now. Who knows how long it will last, but I’m trying my best to get through feeling burnt out. It’s hard. It’s so hard. But I’m getting glimpses of feeling like a strong and amazing woman for having gone through this. Here’s to you down the road, feeling proud of yourself for getting through it.
Means the world.
Let’s just say – I get it. I do. I feel like I’m struggling to get through the day in one piece, like I’m counting down the hours to the peace of the night. I feel woefully inadequate. Crying in a Starbucks might just be what I need, if only to get out of what feels like a stifling house. Love and light your way.
Thank you, friend.
Oh, I so get this.
I hope by now things have turned around. I haven’t been here in a bit and I’ve been exactly where you were – exhausted and overwhelmed, tired if bickering and too worn out to think of a constructive distraction. Thank you for so honestly sharing what we all experience.
I am so sorry that this is a tough stretch for you, but I am so glad you have written about it. It is why I like reading your blog because is it is real and I can relate. Not everyone is peppy, peppy all the the time (in fact I find those blogs frustratingly annoying). Thank you for being real, and for the eloquent way you write about it. I hope by the time you read this things are looking up.
Oh how I could write this post and I think I have multiple times but not as eloquently. My tears come in the shower which usually my only place where someone isn’t asking for something. I’ve been reading for a few months now. Lovely writing. Thanks.
When did it become such a bad thing to cry. Life is hard, it is amazing but it is really, really hard. You are doing good and important work. Maybe a tiny bit of 6 year old guilt isn’t a bad thing. Thanks for sharing, you are amazing.