Way, way at the bottom of this post I alluded to the fact that sleep-deprivation is taking its toll on my cerebral capacity. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. Case in point: Instead of ordering one $50 gift card to thank my daughter’s coaches for a fun season, I ordered 50 gift cards worth $50.
When I received an email confirmation for $2,500, I nearly fainted.
Then I began to cry.
Then I called my husband, whom I very rarely bug at work, and asked him what to do even though I knew perfectly well what I needed to do.
In my defense, I was trying to take care of this little task while Mary Elizabeth clambered at my feet smelling like nuclear waste and as Thomas wailed. I was a wee bit distracted. Thankfully, I was able to straighten everything out.
A week or so after almost being the most generous soccer mom ever, I braved the grocery store for the very first time with all four kids. Rachel and Mary Elizabeth really wanted to ride in one of those cumbersome racecar carts. Thomas was in the Ergo and thankfully slept for most of the trip. Still, it was extremely difficult to steer the racecar, especially as it became loaded down with groceries. I joked with the poor lady I bumped into that I’d lost power steering. We ended up knocking down two displays. Madeline was a a huge help and put everything back since I can’t really squat or lean down when Thomas is in a sling or carrier. We had several people comment on how my hands were full, but I thought we were managing fairly well. There were no major meltdowns, and Thomas was snoozing peacefully. So we caused a ruckus when we launched dozens of Milky Way bars into the air. No big deal. Why did the stock boy need to make a skyscraper of candy bars in that narrow aisle anyway?
Yet, when we started checking out and I could not find my car keys, I started to feel a little panicky. “Take a deep breath,” I told myself. “I’m sure they’re somewhere.”
They were somewhere. They were locked in my minivan.
Madeline said we should pray to St. Anthony. I told her St. Anthony helps find lost things but that the keys weren’t lost. I knew exactly where they were. What we needed was a saint to open the van. I couldn’t think of a patron saint of locked minivans (or flaky, new moms), so I called my husband. He works close by, but he couldn’t slip out at that moment. He told me he could be there in 40 minutes or so. I considered calling a locksmith, but it costs $100 bucks and my husband said it could take an hour for them to get there. So we hung out until my knight in shining armor could bring us the spare keys. Fortunately, we had a racecar (cart) full of food and a smartphone, so we snacked on pretzels and pretended we were camping out.
When that started to get old, the girls read some Bob Books on the iPhone. I nursed Thomas, sitting on a curb. The girls only asked, “When will Daddy be here?” about 50 times. All in all, it was not too terrible of a catastrophe, and you can bet I’m going to hook my keys on the the clasp in my diaper bag from now on that’s supposed to make it easy for tired, numb-brained mamas to locate their keys.
I’ve had people who read my blog or even know me (somewhat) in real life marvel at how I do it all or how I seem to have my act together. Just recently, I was invited to a new friend’s home for a play date. Because I have four kids whom I currently homeschool, I was elevated to super mom status. I tried to marble in plenty of self-deprecating humor into our visit to convey how I totally do not have it together all of the time or even most of the time, especially lately. Don’t let my polished veneer fool you. Showers are completely negotiable at this stage of my life, and my Type A self is becoming more Type B as my family grows. But maybe all of this isn’t such a bad thing. (My hair actually has far more body on day two of not being washed, for example.)
True, I don’t like goofing up in small and big ways. I wish I could sew. I wasn’t exactly proud when I was reading a story to my 4-year-old recently that mentioned an iron, and she asked, “What’s an iron?” (I don’t ever iron, which is surprising since I grew up with a mom who ironed our sheets after she washed and dried them.) I hate it when I misplace things or when I show up to an appointment 30 minutes early because of a mental gaffe (at least I was early and not late). Yet, I’m finding that as I get older, I’m better able to let these things go, to cut myself some slack, and to accept that I make mistakes. I’m also getting better at reminding myself of my many strengths and being very, very thankful for them.
Yes, I still did cry after I ordered the 50 gift cards. I was a tad embarrassed when I had to confess to several people what had happened when I was trying to get reimbursed, but I didn’t collapse into a heap of self-doubt and later I actually told some other moms, and we all had a good laugh. I didn’t completely lose it when I locked the keys in the van, and I’m afraid I had done just that in the past when I’d screwed up in a similar fashion. I remember losing my keys when I lived out in California while a friend was visiting, and I completely flipped out. It was ridiculous. This friend remains one of my best friends because she loves me despite having seem my true and very human colors.
Humility is a beautiful thing, and nothing, nothing has humbled me more than having a largish family. It’s taken accepting my limitations, focusing on progress instead of perfection, and sleepless nights and the brain fog that comes with them to teach me to laugh at my imperfect – yes, imperfect! – self. And this laughter, this acceptance, well, it feels so much better than putting myself through the ringer. It looks better, too. It makes for an authentic, albeit messy and frayed, life.
(Now I suppose this sole purpose of this post really was to make all of us feel better about ourselves, flaws and all.)