Today I felt like a dirtbag mom. I forgot to set my alarm and got my daughter to preschool late so she ended up missing her class field trip. She cried. I cried because she rarely cries and never throws fits unless she’s deeply saddened. I let her down.
To most people, this sounds super dramatic. Mom crying with her kid because she missed her field trip… big deal! But to a single mom with a kid with special needs, who spent 5 years of her life in a single room fighting serious health problems and relearning to play, talk,
eat, walk, fighting daily for the dream of a normal childhood–it’s a big deal.
In addition, D-A-D (who shall remain nameless in this here blog) readily provides an abundance of let-downs, so there’s little room for me to make mistakes like this one.
I honest to God feel like I have the coolest kid to hit planet Earth. As a result of all the physical hurt she went through in her body, she is highly empathetic to the needs of others. She’s positive, flexible, and when I have days of being spacey from lack of sleep, she’s supportive in her kid-like way (she’ll make sure her toys are extra tidy and lets me know how “extra delicious” my cooking is, even when she’s had it a million times). She makes every day feel like a blessing to be alive. So when I drop the ball and it’s totally avoidable and it affects her day, I kick myself in the head.
So as I sit my guilt-ridden self down at my corner cafe to write about this, I get distracted by a guy who sits next to me doing absolutely nothing. He just sits there with his hands crossed, staring out of the window at the passersby. His stillness and his idle hands seemed like an odd, distant, familiar, phenomena in the midst of the age of technology that lives in this cafe. Handsome, 30something, baseball cap, brown hair, green-bluish eyes, green plaid shirt, no cell phone, no computer, the only dude in the room just chillin’, appropriately, as jazz carried by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong flows through the sound system. For a moment, I find a distraction from my guilt and engage:
“It’s rare to see someone sit and not be on their phone or computer these days.”
The handsome man says, “yeah, it’s nice to just take a break from all of that. It’s like you have to remember not to…”
Right after he says this, I start my pre-blog routine of writing in my journal and I subconsciously end my journal entry with his words:
“…Seeing her in tears because she missed out on something, is like a knife to my heart. I know it all always works out. But I don’t like letting that Girl down. So I work hard not to. Ain’t that a kick-in-the-head that I kick myself in the head? I’m that parent who cares so much that a small mistake is a massive failure to me. Although, I know it’s not true. My mom-guilt serves no one. Guilt is a mindset that keeps us stuck on a track that we don’t want to be on. Note-to-self: learn from mistakes and keep it moving. No point in having guilt. So… I have to remember not to…”
After writing that last line, I felt like I learned something about myself that I already knew in my heart but somehow forgot: I’m a good parent and all around good person. The weight that I put on myself to perform 100% with everything and everyone at all times in my life is not realistic and unhealthy. Whether as a parent or any other role I play in my life, I’m going to have moments where I fail to live up to my expectations or the expectations of others. I’m going to make errors and those in my world who really care about my progress will remind me of how awesome I am, despite my shortcomings. Those who don’t care about my wellbeing will remind me of my flaws and enjoy when I beat myself up or down because no one can do so better than me. But it is up to me to tap into the truth of who I am and I have to remember not to create narratives about myself that aren’t true.
What I know for sure is, I’m the kind of parent who works her ass off to make the world for her kid, and everyone in it, as wondrous as possible.
Who knew that the handsome man in the baseball cap, doing absolutely nothing would serve as my Yoda for the day.
—-Back to the handsome man in the baseball cap (I’m typing this up, right now, in real-time)—-
I hear the barista at the register calling out an order by name…
“Ben? Your order’s ready!”
He’s getting up.
He looks my way and says,
“It was nice talking to you.”
I’m returning with,
“Thanks. You know your green shirt makes the green of your eyes pop. It’s quite nice.” It really is.
He’s blushing a little and tells me he really likes my black fedora. I’m thanking Ben and wishing him a wonderful day.
A lovely interaction to snap me out of guilt-mode. I hope this post serves you in the same way.
Mom, Dad, human: remember, when it comes to guilt, you just… have to remember not to.
I want you to have a wonderful, guilt-free day.