On “cherishing every moment” (Alternate title: Yes, I know someday I’ll wake up and there won’t be anyone to take to practice anymore.)

Can we just talk about this?

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Because I feel like I can’t be the only one who is tired of being told–absurdly–to “cherish every moment.”

This may just be a matter of semantics, but even so…no. Just nopety-nope to this message and the horse it rode in on.

Because I am certain the moment that I spent cleaning the dog’s diarrhea out of my brand new carpet–or any memory that involves my children and vomit– will never be “precious” in my memory.

I am also sure that there is no way for me to “enjoy” any moment when my kids talk back or just generally act like jerks, which even the most lovely of children (and, let’s face it, adults) tend to do from time to time.

I humbly submit that–despite what this well-intentioned inspirational quote wants you to believe–not every moment in life is meant to be enjoyed.

Every moment is meant to be experienced and lived. But not necessarily enjoyed. Not necessarily catalogued as “precious.”

And why the hell would we even want it to be?

Sometimes life is boring. Sometimes life is a total shit show. Sometimes it is sad, terrifying, absurd, embarrassing, mundane or miserable.

And these parts of life are good. They are not “precious” or “enjoyable” but they are good because they are part of the package…part of the “full experience” of life. And without the full experience, well, you haven’t had the full experience. (Should I find a way to say “full experience” again?)

If every moment is joyful, then no moments are joyful. Because without experiencing anger, frustration, fear, sadness, or pain, how can we really experience joy?

And in parenting, the same holds true. If I am not occasionally/sometimes/possibly frequently annoyed or frustrated by my kids and the hard and often mind-numbingly boring work of parenting, then can I really say I’ve had the full experience of parenting?

Can I really feel the joy of the amazing moments if I haven’t endured the not-so-amazing ones?

I would argue no.

But in this parenting landscape, I am so often commanded to CHERISH EVERY MOMENT.

To suck up each wonder-tastic second of being a parent because it defines my entire existence and someday I will be a barren and sad empty-nester with only shattered dreams and memories of what it was like when my home was bustling with activity and schedules and cleats on the floor for me to trip over and American Girl brushes left out that can seriously cut a bitch and I will be WOEFULLY SAD and FULL OF REGRET that I did not soak in the orgasmic joy of having those needle-like bristles sear the bottom of my foot in pain because my children will be grown up and my life will basically be over and there will be no more implements of torture  precious doll hair brushes laying around on my living room floor.

Oh, did I say too much in one stream of consciousness paragraph just then? Oops. (Insert embarrassed face emoji.)

But anyway. We all know this pressure is out there. The pressure to be delightfully blissfully present at every magical instant with your children or possibly be labeled the literal worst parent ever.

If you’re the mother at the park looking at your phone, you’re probably being judged.

If you’re the father on the computer saying no to going outside with your kids to play ball, you’re doing it wrong.

If you’re the harried parent yelling at your kid to STOP WANDERING AROUND THE YARD AND GET IN THE CAR BECAUSE WE’RE ALREADY LATE, you’re obviously not cherishing and embracing your child’s sense of wonder and you are definitely the worst. (And if you’ve seen the harried parent I just described, please stop spying on me. It’s creepy.)

Listen, I get it.

I get the core of what these messages that bombard us daily are trying to tell us: childhood is short. It goes by in a flash. It will be over before you know it, etc, etc.

And this message is 100000% true. I am stunned on a daily basis at how old my kids are. When I see pictures of them from even 2 or 3 years ago, they are totally different people even though I am certain I took that photo, like, five minutes ago.

Yes, it goes way too fast. The time is, indeed, short.

Before I know it, in 2 and a half years that will surely pass faster than I can ever imagine, my son will be graduating high school, and meanwhile I’m still trying to reconcile myself with the fact that he is not ten years old anymore.

But..but…

The fleeting nature of their childhoods still does not mean every moment is one to be enjoyed, and I am sick of having this message shoved down my throat…as though I should feel guilty when I don’t spend every waking moment staring meaningfully and lovingly at my children.

I don’t.

There have been multiple times when I–GASP!!–scrolled through Facebook on my  phone while absently saying, “Mmmmhmmmmm…” while my daughter recounted for me in excruciatingly unnecessary detail the plot of the latest book she was reading.

In moments when my kids bicker incessantly, sniping at each other in a way that makes my blood boil, I yell at them and even tell them to get out of the room I am in. In fact, that just happened as I was writing this. I told them to “Shoo!”

I did not cherish that particular moment in the least. Even though they won’t be young forever. Even though the time is so fleeting and precious.

Somebody call DCF. I am clearly an unfit parent.

Oh wait, no.

I am a human being who feels frustration and boredom and anger and sadness, not a robot only containing joy and moment-cherishing software.

You may be surprised to learn that I do not derive indescribable joy from watching them do the same trick on the tire swing for the 20th time.

People…I have been utterly bored at the elementary school band concert. (I know. I’m a monster.)

Final confession: every moment of my children’s existence does not fill me with contentment and joy. Because I’m a human and this is real life and kids can be maddening and tiresome and frustrating.

But here’s the heart of it: their existence is a wonder to me, even when they are annoying or anger-inducing.

I love those kids so fiercely and completely, even when I’m shooing them out of my face because they’re driving me nuts.

And they know they are fiercely loved, every minute.

Even when I’m looking at my phone.

Even when I’m watching TV.

Even when I’m working or reading or talking to my husband or going out with a friend or writing or ignoring them because I’m doing any of these things.

The messages telling us that we should feel guilty or that we are not doing parenting right unless we are cherishing every moment can shove it, because what they really should be saying is love them every moment (even when they are at their worst).

Here’s the thing…no matter what you do, the time is going to fly.

Whether you spend every second staring at them or not, you are going to turn around one day and find that they are gawky teenagers with braces who are taller than you, have full mustaches, and can do a dead-on ironic Trump impression. (That last bit might be a little specific to me, but you take my point.)

You are going to miss things, no matter what.

They are going to keep growing, no matter what.

These little bits of advice to “enjoy every minute” are just our flawed human way of trying to hang on. To romanticize parenthood in such a way that we might stop it from slipping so quickly through our fingers.

But still, it slips.

The time passes. Childhood passes. Life passes.

Some moments–rare ones–are gorgeous and perfect and some are mediocre at best. Others are genuinely awful. We won’t enjoy and cherish every kind, and that’s okay.

We can only do our best to be present in these moments no matter which variety they are. (We won’t even be able to do that every time, and that’s okay too.)

Someday I will wake up and not have anyone to drive to practice.

There will be no overflowing closets full of clothes, shoes and toys to demand someone clean up this instant.

My living room floor will be devoid of hazardous doll accessories and there will be no one staring zombie-like at a video game screen instead of doing homework or chores.

Yes, this will be sad. But that’s life, and life is sometimes sad.

But the good news is no matter how old my kids get, no matter how quickly their childhoods pass, they will always know that they are and have been fiercely loved every minute.

And so I will have done my job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Moms, It’s Enough.

Ok, moms. We need to talk about the way we treat each other. Because I’ve kind of had enough and I’m guessing many of you have, too.

Yesterday I was in Whole Foods with my son and there was a bit of a ruckus. We had finished our shopping and were wandering over to the bakery case to see what looked delicious. Because that’s what we do. Because CUPCAKES.

Anyway.

As we passed the mini-coffee shop, which was crowded with a thick knot of people waiting to order their coffees, I saw a mom struggling with a crying girl, who looked to be about three or four years old. She simultaneously kept an eye on a boy of maybe a few years older who was nearby, eating a treat of some kind. My heart went out to this mom, as it always does to moms in those situations. I could see the panic on her face, and I felt her anxiety in my own gut.

We’ve all had those moments, Moms, haven’t we? No matter how old or young your child is, we’ve all experienced those in-public moments where your child behaves in a cringe-worthy way. Typically, the children are acting out in age-appropriate ways–a three year old throwing a tantrum when the answer to ANYTHING is “no,” a teenager rolling his eyes and mouthing off–but how do the onlookers in the store/restaurant/bowling alley/doctor’s office/car dealership/WHEREVER respond? Do they think, “that’s just a kid being a kid” or “that poor mom–she’s doing her best!”? I hope so.

But the truth is, so many times, they think the worst. So many times, their silent judgment is palpable. I have felt that silent judgment, and most acutely I have felt it from other women. Other moms.

Ladies, pardon my frankness, but what the ever-loving hell are we doing to each other with this judgment?

Let me go back to Whole Foods.

We passed the mom with her daughter and started ogling some particularly tantalizing cupcakes. A moment later, over the din of the busy store, I heard an angry voice start to rise. Like most of the other people in the area, my son and I turned toward the near-shouting.

“Don’t you tell me how I should be handling my children! I’m a single mom, and working my a** off, doing my best! How dare you talk to me that way?”

It was the mom I had seen before, trying to hold onto her slippery, squirming daughter while confronting another woman.

I have no idea what this woman said to the mom. I didn’t see her face, only saw the back of her head, her long, reddish hair, and the man standing next to her. She must have replied to the mom, but quietly, because I didn’t hear what she said. I saw the mom’s eyebrows go up in surprise and her eyes widen. Her voice got even louder; she was shouting now:

“My son dropped a napkin on the floor! He’s a little boy! You’re talking to me this way because my son dropped a napkin on the floor and I didn’t pick it up!”

By this point, the entire area of the grocery store was frozen, staring at the confrontation…except for a few unconvincing souls who pretended they were oblivious and tried to keep up the appearance of shopping. A Whole Foods employee swooped in and hovered between the two women, saying something like, “Let’s just calm down, everyone.”

The red-headed woman must have said something else to the mom. If she was already close to losing it, whatever the woman said pushed her over the edge. “HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY, YOU F***ING B**CH? HOW DARE YOU–”

At this point the husband stepped in front of his wife and told the mom she shouldn’t speak to his wife that way. The mom and the husband began to argue at that point, until the Whole Foods employee stepped in and asked everyone to calm down and requested the mom step away from the scene.

You guys, I felt so much compassion for this mom. I have been her, and I’m sure you have, too. I could see it in her eyes. She was at the end of her rope, all alone in raising her children and all alone in this sea of judgmental faces in Whole Foods. And SHE was the one being asked to leave, a pariah with her two children. My heart broke for her, especially as the crowd of people around her looked away, pointedly avoiding eye contact with the shunned woman.

Yes, she got carried away. Maybe many of the people in the store–maybe you, reading this–think she went too far by swearing at the woman.

Maybe she did. But to me, that’s not the point.

The point is that this mom, doing her best with two small children on what was clearly not their best public outing, faced unfair judgment from another woman, and she lost it. She snapped, and I don’t blame her, not one bit.

In fact, I have to say I was a little bit in awe of her. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to react in a similar way when I have been judged by others when my children chose the worst of moments to misbehave, as children do…but I never quite had the spunk to do it.

In that moment, I could see how alone this woman felt. As she started to turn away with her two children in tow, I walked over to her, touched her on the arm and said, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

The relief and gratitude in her eyes was evident. “Thank you,” she replied.

I’m not going to lie. I was really nervous to do that, to speak out and stand with that mom in a moment when she was clearly being cast out and vilified by the people around. My voice shook a little, but I made sure it was loud enough for the others around to hear.

Because moms, I’ve had enough, and I’m not going to look away and be quiet anymore.

I’ve had enough of us tearing each other down. I’ve had enough of us being expected by society to keep our kids quiet, and to be quiet ourselves. I’ve had enough of being judged for saying no to my kids and disciplining them, even when it means they yell and scream in a store. I’ve had enough of women’s stares and whispers, silently and not-so-silently criticizing another mother’s choices.

Now look, no one is talking about abuse here, so let’s just not have anyone read this and think, “Well, if someone is abusing their kid, I will criticize them and call the police!” DUH.

I’m talking about parenting choices. I’m talking about seeing a woman in a store, struggling with her two kids and then criticizing her because her little boy dropped a napkin on the floor and she did not immediately either 1) make him pick it up or 2) pick it up herself because she was just a tiny bit busy with her other child at that moment.

Hey, here’s an idea: instead of looking at that struggling parent and thinking, “Sheesh, she is really letting her kids run wild; she is a terrible mother!” how about looking at her and thinking, “Look at that mom. She is really having a tough time. Maybe I can help.”

Maybe, just maybe, instead of offering a criticism and a judgment, that other woman could have just, oh, I don’t know, BENT OVER AND PICKED UP THE DANGED NAPKIN HERSELF. You know, just to be a good person. Just because she saw this mother needed help.

I’ve had a couple of times when I needed help myself, and all I got was judgment and criticism. One time, especially.

My son was two, maybe three, so this was about 10 years ago. I was 29 or 30, in Target with him, wearing a baseball cap so I probably looked to be in my early or mid-twenties.

He wanted a particular Thomas the Train, and the answer was no. It’s the age-old story, am I right? Toddler demands toy, mom says no, toddler melts down entirely.

So I told my son in age-appropriate language that his tantrum was not ok, he was in time-out and I would speak to him when he was done crying. I gave hime some space but of course I stayed nearby, within sight of him at the end of the row.

It was hard. I know you know it was hard. I knew people nearby–who were pointedly NOT making eye contact–were judging me, thinking “Why is that awful mom just letting her little boy cry like that?” I could feel the hot anxiety in my chest, rising up, willing me to relent and just get him the toy so he would shut up.

And then it happened. A woman approached me, someone probably just a couple of years older than me, but it was clear she thought I was a very young mother. She had That Look on her face. The “I-Know-You’re-Trying-But-You’re-Doing-It-Wrong-And-I’m-So-Much-Better-At-It-Than-You” look.

“I know it’s hard,” she began. I was tense, so full of stress in that moment, but hoping that maybe she would say something encouraging despite That Look.

Nope.

“But it’s even harder for everyone around here to listen to your little boy cry. You shouldn’t just leave him like that to cry, you know. It’s very unpleasant.”

Ohhhhh, the thoughts that went through my mind as my face, I’m sure, registered shock and disbelief. Thoughts of telling her that I could show her what unpleasant was if she didn’t shut up. This was the moment I remembered when I saw that mom in Whole Foods and understood why she completely lost it. Because I wanted to lose it. It took every ounce of my personal restraint not to yell in her sanctimonious face.

Instead of screaming obscenities, I responded in a shaky, clipped tone. “My little boy is crying because I wouldn’t buy him a Thomas the Train. I am trying not to raise a spoiled brat and if you don’t like his crying, maybe you should move to another aisle. And take your parenting advice with you.” *

(*This is a general paraphrase. It’s been ten years. I remember so clearly how I felt, and what my voice sounded like coming out of my mouth, all nervous and shaky, but the exact words are a little foggy. Chances are, it wasn’t as eloquent as how I wrote it here, but you get the general idea.)

She just shook her head at me sadly, like I was a silly little teen mom or something, and walked away. Instead of making a connection, mom-to-mom, or woman-to-woman, because she may or may not have been a mom, instead of offering an encouraging word, she chose to tear me down. I cried on the drive home from Target that day.

It hurts to be cast out in that way, especially by another woman, even more so by another mom. Because we’re all just trying to do our best, follow our own parenting beliefs, and IT IS HARD. Parenting, mothering, is hard every single day. Why don’t we choose unity and encouragement over judgment, criticism and isolation? It would make mothering at least a little bit easier.

As mothers, we all make different choices. Here’s a news flash: all of our choices are valid, Moms. You may breastfeed, she may not. You may let your baby cry it out, she may not. You may give your eight-year-old an iPhone, she may not. You may be a stay at home mom, she may not. You may let your thirteen year old daughter dye her hair purple, she may not. You might have bought the Thomas the Train for your three year old, I did not.

ALL THESE CHOICES ARE VALID. Some are mine, some are yours, some are hers. None is better than the other. They just ARE.

Let’s all join together and say ENOUGH. Enough judgment. Enough criticism. Enough tearing each other down.

Instead, let’s have more compassion for each other as women, as moms. Let’s share the difficult experience of mothering with each other, whether we’re friends or strangers, and support each other, even when our choices differ. Even when we make mistakes, because we all do at some point.

When you see a struggling mom, reach out to her with a smile, or a nod of your head to let her know you get it. Even if you are nervous like me, walk over to her and say, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

And the next time you find yourself in that situation, anxious and struggling, not sure if you’re doing the right thing, not sure if you’ll face criticism or judgment, imagine feeling my hand on your arm, and hearing my possibly-shaky-but-loud-enough voice telling you, “You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

Because you are.

Tuesday morning crap-tastrophe.

You guys.

(insert big heaving sigh)

It was one of those mornings.

The alarm went off at 5:40…because, you know, MIDDLE SCHOOL, and the bus comes at 6:47am so my son inexplicably needs over an hour to get ready. 30 minutes of which is spent playing on his iPod but WHATEVER.

I woke him and tried to catch another 30 minutes or so of sleep. But the dogs. The mother effing dogs just seemed to think it was an hour later than it was and it was time to get up! Have our breakfast! Go outside and take care of business! And if not, we are going to bark and whine and clickety-clack around with our too long nails and jump on the bed and smoosh you.

So far, this is a pretty regular morning. A few minutes after 6, having not really slept another wink at all, I dragged myself out of bed. I chastised myself for staying up too late, AGAIN. (But, The Blacklist!)

Once I washed my face, things felt a little brighter. I even hit a mild high point when I jumped on my Kindle and saw that the newly released Heroes of Olympus book was freshly auto-delivered and ready for me to read. Like a little miracle plunked into my regular life. Thanks, technology!

And then, Emma.

I love this girl. Love her to bits and pieces. She is sweet and kind and funny and kooky and creative and totally rad in the most unique of ways.

I have no idea where she gets it from.

I have no idea where she gets it from.

She is also a girl of extremes–from delighted giggles to full-blown tears of devastation in .2 seconds. She is easily distracted because that adorable little head of hers is so full of ideas. Emma CREATES.

Today, unfortunately, she CREATED a giant mess in the bathroom. A mess of poop, in case the title didn’t clue you in.

My daughter–my cute little 8-year-old daughter with a singing voice like an angel–poops like a grown-ass man. She has come to consider the toilet as a reading chair. I do not understand this. The toilet is not a comfortable place to rest, in my opinion. Why she would want to sit on it for a half hour (Really. A half hour. This is no joke.) instead of just going in, taking care of business, and then plopping down on the far-more-comfortable couch to read a book is beyond me.

But there it is. She will go in there, shut the door, stink the bathroom to high heaven, and then let it fester while she giggles away at Calvin and Hobbes.

And don’t even get me started on the amount of toilet paper she uses. Since an unfortunate and extremely embarrassing incident at a friends’ house in which a 5 year old Emma clogged their toilet and I stood by, mortified, while my friend had to plunge and plunge, I have given my daughter no less than four and possibly as many as ten active instruction lessons in wiping efficiently and effectively. These lessons are clearly not taking. My husband has accused the females in the house of eating the toilet paper because we go through it so fast, so I have since resorted to taking toilet photographs of the amount she uses to prove my case. (“See? It’s NOT ME using up all the toilet paper!”)

We have talked to her–a girl who walks around turning off lights and attempting to recycle items of questionable recyclability because, save the earth!–about the environmental implications of wasting so much paper. To no avail.

What am I doing wrong? I am obviously failing as a parent if my 8 year old is still having bathroom issues.

This morning there was such a closed-door, half-a-roll-of-toilet-paper, stink-up situation.

But it was far worse than I imagined when I banged on the door and demanded she GET OUT NOW because other people had to get ready and Daddy was going to be late for work and Mommy needed to brush her teeth and she was going to be late for before-school and generally the world was going to end if she didn’t GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM NOW.

I got a response of muffled words and some shuffling sounds through the door. We have had some talks about privacy lately (what with Cooper on the cusp of 13) and agreed that when the bathroom door was closed we would respect the privacy of the person inside and not just barge in.

Today, I broke that promise.

In my defense, I did give her a warning, a pre-barging shout of “I’m coming in now!”

Turns out, I was the one who probably needed to be warned.

The horror, you guys. The crap-covered horror.

I’m sure someday my daughter will thank me (in therapy bills) for putting this story on the Internet.

But the poop. The poop was everywhere.

On the toilet seat. On the floor. Ground into the bathroom rug. On my daughter’s feet–in between her toes, actually–and on the back of her legs. Inexplicably, IMPOSSIBLY, on the edge of the bathtub. (How had it gotten there? Did she throw it? Did she sit on the edge of the tub at some point? Really, HOW DID IT GET ON THE TUB???)

“What the everloving hell happened in here?”

Yep. That’s what I yelled in that moment of shining parental awesomeness.

Emma responded with a deer-in-the-headlights look, her motionless right hand held out clutching a wad of half-used toilet paper the size of a large grapefruit.

I flushed the paper-filled toilet urgently, coiled to spring for the plunger if things went badly. Luckily, it all went down.

I may have neglected to mention that while I was doing that, an epic rant was spewing from my mouth with a definite overuse of the word “seriously” in varied tones and usages.

“I seriously would have had more babies if I wanted to clean up poop again!”

“This much paper? Seriously?”

“Emma, seriously, you are 8 years old. What is going on here?”

“Seriously? Between your TOES?”

“Get in the shower, seriously. Like, right now.”

Forty minutes later, I drove Emma to her not-really-so-before-school-anymore program. Where she would have about 10 minutes to eat whatever passed as breakfast that morning before school actually started. I had apologized to her for my bad parenting behavior but, in true Emma form, she had all but forgotten about PoopGate already.

Since I hadn’t yet forgotten, I treated myself to a de-stressing Starbucks visit (grande bold with cream and a bacon egg and cheese sandwich) and started working almost an hour later than usual.

I’ll try again with the reasonable-amount-of-toilet-paper, wipe-your-butt-more-efficiently lessons another day.

Sometimes, you just have to clean up and hope tomorrow will be less shitty. (See what I did there?)

In which I make a complete ass of myself. And learn some stuff. (As usual.)

It is rather fitting that this is the first post on the new blog, since I am writing about an utterly humbling experience I had the other day. A serious “DUH” incident in which I made a complete ass out of myself and came off looking like a total moron.

So fitting that I should be terrified of coming forward and saying “I am Steph Nash, not some persona I have created, just me, and that’s enough!” and the first story I tell as Just Steph Nash is one that ensures I am not too big for my britches.

Life is good that way. It keeps me in check. (Said without any sarcasm, for realz.)

(‘God, Steph, stop rambling and spill the damned story!’ you say.)

OK, OK.

So I had signed my son up for a sports conditioning class at the Y and it started at 5pm. That is a challenge for me for sure, and I was going to meet that challenge through a carefully coordinated plan of attack. BOOM. Here it is:

  • Leave work promptly at 4:30 (early, but doable).
  • Race to pick up the kids at after-school care (they were under strict instructions: at 4:30, Coop was to go change into his workout stuff, and Emma–my slowpoke–was to come RUNNING as soon as they were called down for dismissal)
  • Try to get in and out of the school in 5 minutes or less (a major accomplishment)
  • Jet to the YMCA and hustle him in, likely at the stroke of 5:02.

At 4:31, I was KILLING IT, you guys. I had packed all my crap, closed down my computer, flew down the stairs and was in the parking lot approaching my car. My beautiful, new 4 month old car that has made driving so much more delightful than I remembered it could be. I remember thinking to myself, “You GOT this, Super Mom! NAILED it!”

(insert lolz from those of you who know that pride goeth before the dumbassery)

I hopped in the seat, turned the ignition and turned to start backing. Woops, guess I turned the ignition too fast because I didn’t QUITE get the car started. Silly me.

So I turned the ignition again, carefully and with meaning this time, and nothing happened.

Hmmmmm, strange.

Let me try that again!

Nothin.

4:33.

DO NOT PANIC.

I stopped, I looked around my car. Nothing unusual. I hadn’t left the headlights on (my fancy new grown-up car has lights that shut off AUTOMATICALLY…wow, technology!) or the interior light, so it didn’t seem like it could be a drained battery.

I had a thought that maybe the keyless ignition wasn’t working, so I dutifully pulled out the key and tried to turn the ignition with that.

You guessed it, nothing.

I took a breath and came to terms with the fact that Cooper was not getting to the Y today. Shit! I exhaled and let it go.

I tried to call the husband, who always has a way of talking me down from the ledge and helping me see if I am missing something. Voicemail.

OK, I’m a big girl. I can call AAA without consulting him and then go in and sit in my office until they get here.

AAA told me they might not be able to get someone out there til 7:40. SERIOUSLY? I’d given up on the Y, but I had to pick the kids up by 6pm at the latest, so that was just too long to wait.

I felt the panic rise up. Drew was in Hartford, so he couldn’t get to the kids on time.

I thought it was the battery, and I noticed my boss was parked right next to me. I texted her to see if she could give me a jump. Five minutes later, she was in the parking lot with me, along with the building security guard who had jumper cables. We hooked them up. She started her car. I tried to start mine.

And nothing happened.

My boss was freezing out in the parking lot with me in her light coat. The security guard was looking on with mild interest as we tried to figure out why my new car wouldn’t start.

We tried several times. Nothing.

And now, I am seriously panicking.

Well, just me panicking, really. Everyone else was just freezing their asses off while I tried to figure out what to do.

Well, just me panicking, really. Everyone else was just freezing their asses off while I tried to figure out what to do.

How will I get my kids? Who can I call that could pick them up? Jesusgod, am I really going to have to wait here til 7:40? What about my dinner in the crockpot: is it going to burn? Can food in crockpots actually burn? Why isn’t my NEW EFFING CAR STARTING?!?! The dog has to go out–I don’t want to clean up pee and poop when I get home. Will Drew skip his workout to come get me instead? WHO WILL GET THE KIDS? The school is going to judge me for being THAT MOM AGAIN!!!! OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!

I looked up from my panic and saw my boss on her phone. It took me a second to realize that she was arranging to catch a ride home with a co-worker. She told me I could use her car to go pick up the kids and go home and then she’d have her husband drive her into work in the morning. My boss was going to lend me her car. I was so grateful for her kindness in the moment, and in general to have such a great boss.

So, resolved to all the inconveniences of having a broken car (including what I was sure would be a hefty mechanic’s bill) I shut the hood down and grabbed my purse. I closed the car door and the car beeped at me.

What the hell?

I opened the door and didn’t see anything strange. The trunk, all the doors, and the hood were all shut. I closed the door. The car beeped again.

My boss looked at me, probably with the same confused look I had on my own face.

“Is it in gear maybe?” she asked.

The car was in reverse.

THE CAR WAS IN REVERSE.

THE CAR.

WAS IN.

REVERSE.

THE WHOLE EFFING TIME.

I put it in park.

It started right up.

And I died of shame.

shame-600x320I mean, we laughed in the moment but I really wanted to die.

She had just frozen herself for like 30 minutes helping me, offered me her car and inconvenienced herself, all because I was an utter moron.

And I went and got the kids who dutifully hurried out, Cooper fully dressed and ready to be sports-conditioned in his lacrosse shorts and sweat wicking shirt.

When I told him what happened, he just hugged me and said, “It’s ok, Mom. I’m sorry you had a bad afternoon.”

And my heart melted and I loved my life and my kids and my husband (who had reassured me on the phone while I drove from the office to pick up the kids that it was an honest mistake anyone could have made) more than anything.

Because even at my most idiotic and hare-brained, I am loved. I am enough, even when I screw everything up because I am in such a rush to get everything done IN JUST THE PERFECT WAY THAT I HAVE PLANNED.

Lesson learned. Again.