There are mornings that we just barely make it out the door.
Generally it starts with me hitting snooze a couple of times too many or checking e-mail and losing track of time as I click from one thing to another. It might be because someone refuses to stop reading or playing. Maybe, as we are walking out the door, a missing stuffed animal suddenly needs to be found or the world might come to a screeching halt.
Whatever the case, sometimes our mornings suck.
You know. Yelling. Missing socks. Shoving food at the kids and hoping that I have time to make coffee. General suckiness.
Today was not one of those days.
I had this day planned out in my head and it was going to be something different.
First, I was headed to Friday gathering at the kids’ school. This is one of my favorite things and I rarely get to go. Classes take turns performing songs and poetry. This is followed by acknowledgements from the students that are generally along the lines of “I’d like to thank my brother for playing with me” or “I’d like to thank my teacher for her patience.” Cuteness. The entire thing ends with everyone singing the school song. It’s sweet and always brings a tear to my eye.
Then I was going to watch one of the classes put on a play. I was told it involved the Gold Rush and someone got to use a gun. Awesome.
Then, the BIG deal, I was going to the movies.
All by myself.
On a school day.
Did I mention it was by myself?
This might seem like a super-lame thing to be jazzed about, but I don’t care. I was excited. Almost night-before-Christmas excited.
I cooked a killer breakfast for the kids including a full tea service. Went through my morning with grace, patience and love. Extra hugs and kisses. No yelling or dragging myself through the rut. Nope.
Today was different.
I took extra time to consider presentation and content today as I packed their lunches, even including little love notes from me.
I was rocking motherhood.
We got in the car and all was well.
Until…the moaning started.
“What’s up?” I ask my boy.
“My head hurts bad,” he says.
This continues for the next 20 minutes of our drive. The moaning increases and my loving patience erodes. Quickly.
I pass back some mint breath spray.
“Give that a spritz,” I say. “You will feel all better.”
I knew it was lie, but come on. Not today.
Please. Please. Please.
Then I hear a scream followed by horrific sobs.
“What now?” I say. All thoughts of love and peace shattered.
“I squirted it in my eyes,” my girl screams through her sobs. “Both of them.”
This is when I may have lost it. I cannot be held responsible for what I said in the next few minutes. It was not a fine moment for sure.
The boy’s moans are now wails and we pull over because he might throw-up. He does not and I make the decision to take sister to school and take him home.
Her tears wash the pain away and she is fine by the time we arrive. I walk her in and then spend the next 20 minutes waiting outside the bathroom for my boy. He comes out looking pale.
Luckily I think to get a bag from the teachers, because he doesn’t make it home. We drive the rest of the way with the windows down and me trying hard not to yell obscenities.
In moments like this I feel like a little kid. I want to throw myself on the ground and scream, “it’s not fair!”
But, of course, I don’t.
We get home and I pull off his clothes, wash his face and tuck him into bed.
He looks so small when he is sick. I see how fragile and dependent he is on me.
I take him in: that messy mop of brown hair wet and sticking up where I washed his face; his eyes so small and squinty without those big glasses on; the way he cradles his panda and nuzzles into his dirty, soft fur.
“Momma,” he says so quietly. “I love you.”
“Love you too munchkin,” I say. “Rest up. You will feel better soon.”
He makes that sweet sound he always makes when he is sick and smiles up at me.
I want to say that his smile made me feel happy and I let all my disappointment fade away.
That would be a lie.
I really wanted this afternoon.
Needed it, really.
Motherhood ruins all my plans.
The same lesson keeps slamming into my face and hitting me hard. I dust myself off and walk around feeling the bruises for a day or so. Then I start feeling better and all memories of the incident quickly fade. Bruise? What are you talking about?
I lose myself in plans and expectations again. I dream big and draw-up elaborate days for myself. I build things up to be something they could never be. Then, like an amnesia patient, I am surprised and shocked when things go wrong. That familiar beating comes and I am left feeling deflated and confused.
Again and again this happens.
I want to break this terrible cycle, yet I spent an hour this morning planning my spring break vacation. Rehearsing how I want things to go. Preparing myself for perceived challenges and building up the excitement.
I tell myself that I want adventure and surprise, but my history suggests otherwise.
Every decision is analyzed to ridiculous degree. Vacations are planned and elaborately choreographed in my head over and over. This results in either extreme disappointment or a sense of deja vu.
This brings me back to a place I am quite comfortable in now: I have no idea what to do.
Surrender. Let go. Be in the moment.
These are concepts I want to embrace, but I have no tools for doing it. The reality is that I want to control my situation so I can be prepared to handle things. Otherwise, I fear something terrible will happen.
It is scary.
Motherhood is not controllable. It is unpredictable and often messy. It requires us to release comfort and surrender to that feeling of “I have no freaking idea what to do right now.”
You would think after almost 10 years of being a mom that I would handle this feeling better.
I just checked on my boy and he is playing under the blankets with his stuffed dinosaur that he rescued from another time. He is feeling better and I’m trying not to be pissed about it.
Today is what it is.
I’m happy that I am his safe place. His feel better. His momma.
I just wish I could break this cycle of expectation and disappointment. Choreograph a graceful exit from this stupid loop and be someone who can just be.
But that’s the point, right? I can’t plan my way out of this. So what can I do?
I can recognize that I am feeling anger and resentment.
I can recognize that when they are sick I feel somewhat panicky inside and think dreadful things that fill me with an abundance of anxiety and worry.
I can move past those feelings and just do my mothering thing.
Snuggles and warm blankets. Cool rags and back rubs. Reading books and fluffing pillows.
Motherhood really does ruin all my plans.
It’s supposed to.
I just read this and felt so much better. I suspect I’m struggling with depression and know for sure many many times I have felt the same resentment and disappointment when motherhood ruins my plans, and while I’ve only been at it 5 years, I too feel like surely I would realize by now that I’m only setting myself up by even trying to plan at all! (But I keep doing it anyway) Thanks for your honesty–it instantly made me a fan 🙂
I’ve just found your blog and am slowly working my way through them, in between toddler demands, sleep needs and life in general. I am early yet into this motherhood gig, but even so this entry of yours really spoke to me: oh, the frustration of unmet expectations! Though in my case, carefully planned annual leave days were consumed by sick bubba on the one hand, & then a sick mumma (my mum!) on the other. Argh!
Thankyou for all of your beautiful words, & Thankyou for your bravery in sharing your vulnerability. It really helps sometimes to see your inner self reflected in the experiences of others, know that it is not just you!