When You Just Can't Hack It
January 13, 2011
I was supposed to meet friends at the Children's Museum this morning. I was supposed to get up, get my kids dressed and fed, take a shower, pack a few snacks, make the Stroller Call (bring it? leave it home and make them walk?), and get out of the house by about 9:40 in the morning. But at 9, when we were all still in our pajamas, breakfast half-eaten, kids racing around the house like lunatics and me with my forehead on the kitchen table, I finally emailed my friends and bailed.
I don't know how many times I've been The Bailer on a fun morning outing with friends. It used to happen a lot during my Two Under Two years. What with napping schedules and sleepless nights and lunch times and the universal terror of a small person falling asleep in the car before she is supposed to, it was hard to get out and around in those days. I had so many friends doing preschool and gym classes and swim and the zoo and museums and I would hear about their plans and wonder what in the world was wrong with me. Why couldn't I get it together and get out of the house too? I LIKED getting out of the house! I made a point to get out at least once every day for basic survival.
But there's something about a deadline, you know, having to get out of the house by a certain time. Pressure! The schedule. Meeting people. Getting your act together by nine or ten in the morning is not always a feasible prospect. I looked around my house this morning and thought: yes I CAN get out of the house in time, but it will require yelling, fighting, struggling, insisting, foot stomping, and I just can't deal with that today.
The overwhelmingness of Getting Out can still run me into the ground - it wasn't just a Two Under Two thing. I mean, peek into my house on any preschool morning! But today feels worse somehow, because I wanted to see my friends, because my kids would have had fun, because we had nothing else to do. Instead we're home, it's almost nap time and we only just NOW got washed and dressed. We haven't done much today - do running around without our underpants on and spreading puzzle pieces all over the living room floor count as productive and stimulating activities?
As a stay at home mom it's not always visible, but I'm one of those annoying achiever types. I'm not about sticking my kid in every class and making sure he can read Shakespeare by age four, but I DO like to feel like I'M tackling everything. For example: managing to show up for a museum playdate! But sometimes your husband is out of town all week and your kid crawls into your bed at three in the morning and the other kid wakes up at five and the weather is rotten and the kids won't eat their breakfasts and maybe The Rage is kicking in and you start to think that the very last thing you feel like doing is getting all of you ready and out the door. Bed, pajamas, television, even puzzle pieces all over the floor sound SO much better than GOING anywhere.
So yeah. I'm trying not to feel like ditching friends and a fun outing for Dora The Explorer isn't an embarrassing parenting failure, because there are just going to be days I can't hack. We all have them, right? Today I feel like I made the right call - leave everyone at home. Our friends have grace for us, the outing will be there another week. And sometimes, miraculously, my children notice I am nearing the end of my rope and choose to play happily and peacefully in the playroom, just so I can write an angsty blog post.