I don’t know about all of you, but we started the week off on a spectacularly shitty note. I could tell from the moment I woke up that it was going to be rough. My hindsight brain is saying, “if you knew that going in, why didn’t you do something to change course? Duh."
Hindsight brain is such a turd. He’s always like, “I would have handle that so much better.” It’s in the same category of people who offer helpful advice for how to best handle challenging situations next time, as if you hadn’t already learned that going to Ikea on a weekend with a three-year-old was a bad call. Has no one read Men Are From Mars? Women don’t want advice. They want empathy.
So, yes, hindsight brain, I realize I could have altered course. But I didn’t. And that’s what brings us to where we are now.
Here’s my mandatory list of excuses: We were running late. When we’re under the gun, younger people seem to somehow move slower than usual, like time is speeding up and they’re stuck in molasses. Then my stress about getting younger people moving seeps out into the world and makes everyone cranky. There was even a clothing crisis… from a child who wears a uniform.
I believe that’s what therapists call miscuing. People think kids are straightforward and easy to read. Hell no. It’s never about what you think it’s about. Maybe it started off being about uncomfortable jeans, but it morphed into something much harder to manage: reality. Specifically, the realization that another week of school was about to begin. More specifically, the realization that she was going to miss me.
By the time I figured this out, the morning had already gone to hell. I saw our metaphorical train leaving the station and I did nothing to stop it. I could have waved frantically at the conductor or pulled the emergency brake or even let the train leave so we could wait for its non-crazy cousin to pull in. But, no, I let it keep chugging away.
“This is the worst morning ever of my whole life,” she screamed as I tightened her brother’s car seat, crushing his nuts in the process.
“Yes," I commiserated, "it probably is.” Meanwhile, my upstairs brain is knocking on the door of my downstairs brain, cautiously whispering, “This would be a good time to be stronger, wiser, kinder. You know… be the adult.”
I close the car door, do a silent fist-shaking swear dance, take a deep breath and accept that we are going to be late. I go around to her side of the car. I help her with her seat belt. I look her in the eyes and tell her how much of a joy she is in my life. I tell her she is a good person. I pray that some of my words will stick to her Tephlon heart.
Things seem to settle down until I turn on the car, see the time and immediately turn back into cranky, late, asshole mom. Then I realize I’m being cranky, late, asshole mom and that this does nothing to help set them off on the right foot. I apologize for my behaviour, but not my feelings. I’m trying to show them it’s okay to make mistakes, that people will still love you if you lose your cool.
I’m sure there are practical lessons to be learned here. Set out clothes the night before. Get them up earlier. Get them to bed earlier. Be more organized. Move closer to the school. Perhaps the most valuable is this: Mondays are already tough. Skinny jeans will only make them worse.