I pulled up to my daughter’s elementary school this morning and carefully surveyed the other parents and their children walking up to the locked front doors.
One by one, they pushed the white button–the Button of Shame when it’s pressed a few minutes post final bell–and one by one they filed in behind the clipboard and its accompanied ballpoint pen. Slips were filled out, and the white copy for filing into permanent records and the yellow copy to be crumbled into small hands to be given to classroom teachers were separated and sent on their respective routes.
Our excuse for being late this morning:
I couldn’t think of anything else to write. As a woman of many words, I am always a little disappointed that there isn’t an extra sheet of notebook paper for writing–double spaced and in complete sentences–a more proper excuse:
We got home late last night after a meeting at church, so my second grader fell into bed, still wearing her daytime clothes, and without brushing her teeth. This morning my husband and I both slept in, woke up our middle schoolers late, and forgot that Molly, soundly sleeping in her bed, needed to take a shower before we packed her up–signing folders and cleaning out school papers–and sent her off to school.
I remembered at the last of all last minutes still available to us that her lunch account was overdue by two days, and I’m already on my second automated call from the School Board’s County Nutrition Office. Once I finally found the checkbook buried in a box from our recent move, the bus had long gone and we were five minutes past leaving in time for the car rider line.
And then the baby pooped in his diaper.
This wasn’t our first tardy at our elementary school. I believe it was our fourth, but the third one was just this past Monday.
And so, the Mom Walk of Shame was especially hard and long this morning.
Yes, it’s me. Again. Signing in late. With messy hair and last night’s makeup. My breath might smell of coffee and raw morning rush. But, I’m here.
“Good morning,” I said in as chipper of a voice as I could manage, but it came out forced and full of insecurities. “Second time this week,” I chuckled, half-hearted but still obviously trying. “Do I get some kind of reward?”
The office administrator looked at me as she rushed about her rectangular space behind the front office counter that even I sometimes feel too short to look over. She was moving papers around, answering questions, and being the total rock star she is. She is one of those women I admire. Her voice is soft, her smile bright, and her face sweet and angelic and forgiving.
“Ah,” she said, “don’t worry about it. You’re only human.”
Just like that, I felt myself stand a little higher.
Yeah! That’s right! I’m only human.
Sometimes us moms just need to hear someone else say it, and then we need to remind ourselves that it’s OK to believe it.
Sometimes, we have the kid who throws the gigantic fit in the produce section of the grocery store; sometimes, we have the kid who doesn’t get the Cavity Free Certificate at their checkup; sometimes, all of the clothes are dirty, and so our kid wears the same pants to school two days in a row; sometimes, we don’t workout for three days in a row AND we have dessert at 9 o’clock in the morning; sometimes, we don’t make it to the grocery store, so we eat grilled cheese sandwiches and that canned soup that has been on the pantry self for six months; sometimes, we eat out the very next night; sometimes, we get to school late; sometimes, we get to school late twice in the same week.
Earlier today I dropped by my friends’ house to take them some Starbucks and a few packs of diapers and to visit their new baby. As I walked in the door, their entourage of three pups greeted me with wagging tails, all three motioning me over to their newest pal laying on his play mat on the living room floor. Liz sat on the couch, and Heather walked me in behind the dogs and sat down. I put Joseph on the floor and scooped their precious newborn into my arms. I have already forgotten how small Joseph was only seven months ago (Molly only eight years ago…Anne only eleven years ago…Jane only thirteen years ago.) Dear Jesus, it really does go by quickly.
Heather remarked that she had cleared off a couch for me to sit on and that laundry had been piling up. We laughed that I had chosen, anyway, to sit on the floor. Joseph crawled around, making his way to visit the pups and onto baby Tennyson’s play mat.
“I didn’t even notice the mess. Your house is cleaner than mine,” I said, remembering how amazing it feels to hold another human when their entire head is no bigger than the palm of your hand. Tennyson looked off to the side, but every once in a while he made eye contact. He’s still a little too new yet to smile, but you can see it there behind his eyes.
Thirteen years ago seems like forever, but just yesterday it seems I was holding my own first baby. Back in those days, I pushed myself by 11 o’clock each morning to tidy up, run five miles, start dinner, and take a shower. Our house was (mostly) clean, our laundry (mostly) done, and my husband’s shirts ironed. Needless to say, thirteen years later has me looking around Liz and Heather’s house thinking, ‘These two ladies are doing all this exactly right.’ My husband has been ironing his own shirts for quite some time now.
“Don’t worry about all of this,” I told these two new mommies, both glowing with exhaustion and the greatest love this world has to offer.
Let the laundry pile up. Buy paper plates. Let the beds be messy. Let raking and jumping in leaves be good enough exercise. Nourish your body well, but don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally eat the queso AND the cake. Give yourself a breather if you happen to walk in late to school…twice in one week because, eventually, you will walk down those elementary halls for the very last time.
It goes by quickly, so, by all means…
Allow yourself to be human!
After all, our little humans think Mommy is amazing!