I just got the call.
I lost Mother of the Year.
No, no. It’s okay. I probably didn’t deserve it.
I tried. I really tried. I ran around all day today, from the gym to picking up tap shoes, home for a shower to ballet class, to the grocery store and then unloading the groceries. Just in time to pick two out of three kids up from school.
And then back home for the first afternoon/evening we haven’t had anything going on in about a week and a half.
I was so foolishly optimistic. I had actually picked up the ingredients to one of my favorite dishes that takes about an hour to cook. I had dreams of a glass of wine, cooking dinner, watching a DVRed Modern Family...but when I picked up my kids from school, they had one question.
“Are we going to the parade?”
For some reason, the local high school had decided to thread their Homecoming parade right through the main artery of my neighborhood. I don’t know why. I don’t know who thought of this. All I can say is that I wish I had been a part of the Happy Hour where someone drunkenly said...
“Hey! Let’s do the parade through one of the largest neighborhoods in Denver. Better yet! Let’s do it at RUSH HOUR!!”
My kids cried, screamed, and were generally pissed when I told them “no.” I do not want to go to a parade that promises to be a giant freakin’ mess...when I have already been to art classes, rock climbing, Cub Scouts, and ballet while trying to work and make sure that they have an adequate amount of protein and clean socks.
This Mommy was saying NO. And this had everyone on edge.
When we finally got home, my son pulled out his book, The Boys’ Book: How to Be the Best at Everything, and told me that he would like to do a project. Thrilled that he was taking an interest not only in reading, but putting something together, I tried to put my exhaustion on hold so that I could help him out.
When he handed me the steps to “How to Make a Water Clock”...I knew immediately that I was out of my league. This took measuring. This took cardboard. This took patience.
Where in this book was the “Make the Perfect Grammar” lesson?
I’m afraid I snapped. Dinner to be made, everyone mad at me, and instructions in a book for 7-year-old boys that I didn’t understand...I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I thought that I might still be a contender for Mother of the Year because I later pulled my son over to the couch and sincerely apologized for my behavior.
“I’m sorry I was so rude,” I said. “I know that you’re so good at these projects. But Mommy isn’t. I try, but I get frustrated. This is why I’m good at helping you with your spelling, but I can’t help you fix your bike.”
(Insert MISSING DAD here now.)
I was rewarded with a slurpy smooch and what I’m sure is temporary forgiveness for my sub-par “momminess.”
I finally found a pause to “relax” and make dinner. And boy...was I going to win with this one. I had already taken a home-grown recipe and made it healthier. But watch my Mommy Star rise when I step it up a notch and make it with brown rice...instead of white.
It cooked. And cooked.
At one point, I wasn’t sure if the rice was going to burn or never cook. And after 2 hours of telling the kids “no you can’t have a snack...dinner will be ready any minute,” I finally gave up and salvaged what I could.
I know that what I experienced today is what most of us go through on a regular basis. Stretched to the limit. No time to breathe, much less raise well-rounded human beings.
But I felt alone. Utterly alone. And inadequate.
Who authorized my Mommy License, anyway???
Just so you know...I heard through the grapevine that I lost my Mother of the Year to some a woman who actually took her kids to the parade while making a water clock and feeding her kids fully cooked brown rice as a snack.
This piece was originally posted on the Widow Chick blog, September 8, 2011.