I really hope mothers are graded on effort alone because my execution and completion have been lacking for the past two years or so. Take Monday for example. I had volunteered to chaperone Laylee’s field trip to the Washington State-shaped geography adventure corn maze.
It was a morning trip so Magoo would be in school but I made sure to ask a friend to get him off the bus in case I wasn’t back in time to pick him up. There wasn’t room on the field trip bus for parent chaperones so I would be driving myself. Since I would only be responsible for a couple of kids and since it was outside at a farm, I figured I could just bring Wanda strapped to my chest.
A little nagging thought entered my head, “Maybe you shouldn’t bring the baby.” But I didn’t want to get child care and I thought it would work out fine. There was one hitch in my plan – district policy. Siblings are not allowed on field trips with the school under any circumstances. So I showed up (late) to the school to gather with the other moms and was turned away.
I should have asked rather than assumed. I should have known better. There was no way I could supervise 2 children running through a corn maze while holding a one-year-old. This would absolutely not work and Laylee would be shifted to another group.
I was told all of this as Laylee sat at her desk looking horrified, tears welling up in her eyes. I felt about 2 inches tall, standing there with my baby, watching my bigger baby cry as I was asked to leave the classroom.
The teacher was right. I should have asked first. But I didn’t and the consequences were rough. I smiled and waved goodbye to Laylee and then cried myself out to the car where I called a friend who offered to take Wanda so I could catch up to the field trip.
I dropped her and arrived at the farm before the kids did, meeting the bus and an ecstatic Laylee. JUST KIDDING! You thought I’d totally let you down but I only totally let you down for 30 minutes. Then I UN-let you down. See how nicely that works?
I have the best intentions. I volunteer for things. I sign the kids up for activities they will love. I say yes to party invitations and offer to bring food. I buy fabric to make elaborate Halloween costumes. I intend to acknowledge my friends’ birthdays. I write huge portions of novels. And then terrible catastrophes happen like one of the kids gets hungry and I remember I have to make meals for my family or we run out of underwear and it occurs to me that Wanda still refuses to wash her own laundry. Then it all comes tumbling down.
If I could do half the things I intend to do, I’d be a super hero. I’d be one of those moms you hate and you’d wonder if I were actually human. As it is, no one has any doubt about my humanity.
We do not make it to soccer in time for warm-ups ever. Do I get the emails reminding me to have the kids there 15 minutes early? Yep. Do I fully intend to make it each day? Sure thing. Can I be 3 places at once? Not so much.
I make a good solid healthy delicious dinner about once a week.
I do not read 20 minutes per day to my kindergartner.
No one in this house is practicing the piano.
I rarely make it to our assigned bus stops on time and then end up chasing the buses through the neighborhood.
I cannot find my one-hole punch.
The dishwasher is full and so is the sink.
I have more books on time management than I have time to read them, let alone implement their suggestions.
There is nothing especially stressful about my life situation. I have a supportive husband, lovely kids and the luxury of staying home all day with them, or more accurately staying in the car with them. Somehow I teeter on the edge, doing just what I need to get by and then I collapse exhausted into bed. Most nights I lie in the dark giggling to Dan as I repeat the stories of our day. Every once in a while the house is clean. Sometimes we’re on time for things. Frequently all the homework gets done.
But we always have time to cuddle. We read and pray together every night. And between the moments of chaos and the tears, I’m able to see clearly that this time is a gift. I don’t do everything I want to but I have everything I need.