Nothing – nothing – is more humbling than needing the teacher and administrators to triage your second grader for you at 7:30 a.m. because you are too out-of-touch to figure out for yourself whether he is, in fact, sick or just playing you like a fiddle.
The fact that the “triage” lasted less than five minutes before our informal committee determined Eddie was too sick to be in school, and that my little preschooler, Billy, also started getting sick with this today, is perhaps even slightly more humbling…if that’s possible. I’m pretty certain I may never be able to shake the reputation at school that I’m sure I’ve earned from my latest escapade.
But, in my defense, my son did somehow manage to break the thermometer in half with his teeth while I took his temp at 6:30 a.m., prompting a panicked call to poison control to verify that mercury is not in the model of thermometer I used. And, in my defense, despite his sobbing that he was too sick for school, his flair for drama and penchant for pulling one over on me is legendary within our household. How could I know for sure? Add to that, my preschooler’s knack for jumping in with his own tantrum, which he decided to do this morning, simply to best his brother’s meltdown. If Eddie is the devious puppet master, my charming mastermind, then Billy is his devilish enforcer, and they both expertly execute their roles. It was 30+ minutes of mayhem, and when I finally got us all in the car, my head was pounding and I was already spent. And, although the well-being of my kids is always first priority, the ticking of the clock kept reminding me that every minute of meltdown at the house was one minute more I would be late for work.
So, yes, by the time I lugged the two boys to school on this freezing morning, I was, a bit, frazzled. … In my defense, of course.
Perhaps the triage was my lowest point of a pretty low-grade day. But, truthfully, it’s a pretty close call.
The moment when I dragged my little guys to work with me, seeking a childcare solution while they trudged alongside obviously craving the comforts of home, doesn’t elicit a feeling of pride either. Perhaps the lowest point was actually facing the shame of my earlier decision to steal my kids’ treasured bag of change to use for the parking meters. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces when they caught me red-handed digging through it for meter money.
Or, earlier in the morning after the thermometer “incident” when, in a lapse of judgment, I recklessly announced to Eddie that he may have poisoned himself, sending him reeling into panic. Perhaps I could have played that situation a little more discreetly.
Then again, the moment you witness your preschooler finally figure out how to best you is also quite sobering. As I watched him stand at the toilet with his pants around his ankles, stubbornly holding in his morning pee, I witnessed in him the exact moment when he realized the power he holds by taking control of the one thing I cannot control. And, I glimpsed a future of a new type of weekday morning trouble… all in the spirit of mucking up the morning routine.
Still, it’s possible the most damning part of the day actually occurred after my dad came to work to pick up my boys. Being caught sitting alone in my office, rocking – only slightly – back and forth while holding tightly to my temples, does not inspire confidence, at least not in the immediate wake of traipsing my downtrodden children through the office corridors, a half hour late at that.
In my defense, I recovered quickly from today’s disastrous start. The rest of my day went off without a hitch.
Unless you were one of the countless people I cornered to retell the tale of my morning woes, you’d never even know there was an unprofessional bone in my body. And, once I left for the day, I promptly arrived at Eddie’s school, like a responsible and rational parent, and gathered his homework. A visit to the pediatrician’s, a trip to the market for their choice of ice cream, and a snuggle on the couch rounded out the afternoon. Home cooked dinner on the table and adult conversation (that was not simmering with suppressed fury despite the crazy day) rounded out the evening.
Overall, I call the rest of the day a win.
I write this now as I cuddle between the boys while they sleep. It’s the mark of a worried mother, wanting and needing to be close to them in their time of need. It’s also the mark of an exhausted mother who played a bum hand today and needs some rest so she can try again tomorrow.
I may not have been Superwoman today, or most days for that matter, but I give it my all everyday, and my family knows how much I love them. That’s going to have to be good enough.
At any rate, after hitting rock bottom today, one thing is certain…I can only get better from here.