Friday, September 3, 2010

Because sometimes you need ME to make YOU feel better.

I wasn't originally going to post this story. Telling it felt, to me, like a "boo hoo oh poor me I just want someone to tell me I'm a good mother" story. There are lots of people who are single parents or who have spouses who work out of town or who have spouses that just work crazy shifts like mine, and many who cope with it much better than I do. But the other morning at work, I told this story to a friend who's also a working Mom, and it made her feel better to know that she's not the only one who feels tired and overwhelmed sometimes. So I'm hitting "publish", hoping that while this story is not really very funny and is just one more in my growing repertoire of "oh brother!" stories, that you'll feel a little better after reading it as well. And knowing that you might? Makes me feel better, too.

Life's been rough lately. Not rough in the "I have a terminal illness and three weeks to live" sort of way, but the "Wow -- THAT day sucked" every day for like two weeks straight sort of way.

I'm not even sure when The Suckiness started, but possibly as far back as that day when Nick nearly drown himself in the tub. After that, there was the day the kid got hit in the face with a golf club and just a general lot of by-myself-with-two-crabby-kids-suckitude.

I took the kids out last week to shop for a bridal shower gift for my cousin. (Yes, another wedding. We're just full of the love around here, apparently.) A big group of us ladies from my extended family and I had pooled our money to buy a gift and I had volunteered to pick up the last few items. Only this cousin didn't have a whole lot on her registry, leaving us to actually have to think about what to buy her.

After much debate, another cousin and I had gone out and bought towels and luggage (and His-n-Hers Snuggies). There was money left over, and we decided it would be a nice idea to buy an under-bed tote and fill it with gift wrapping supplies. (OK, I fully realize how dorky that sounds after writing it here, but trust me - I've seen it done before at showers and people like having boat loads of wrap stuffs all in once place. Or chicks pretend they do anyway.)

Anyway, I volunteered to go buy it.

That? Was a dumb idea.

I always swore I wouldn't be the person who stopped living their life when they had kids. I swore I'd be the Mom that would still go out with friends (albeit much less often), have her own interests and generally still be an adult.

I also hate being the person who says "no". Its almost like I think saying "no" is a weakness. I like to shop for gifts - I like to be involved - I like to be helpful. But sometimes I should just not volunteer myself. Last week was key #1 example of a time I shouldn't have.

Cuz you see I had seen my husband for a total of three hours that week. Not figuratively three hours - literally three hours. Total. And not a single moment of it was alone together. During all of that time I was working, picking up kids from the sitters', making out upcoming hourly school/sitter/work schedules and feeding/caring for/entertaining two kids by myself. We're talking hour drives to work, 9 hours in the office, and hour drives home only to pick up cranky kids who were hungry from the sitters' and begging and pleading with them not to pummel each other to smithereens while I whipped together some utterly crap-tastic dinner.

The picking up of the gift wrap shower gift was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

This Momma nearly lost it.

Sunday we hit Wal-Mart first, buying a few items for the gift but spending more time looking at new clothes for school and other household items we needed. There is a party supply place in the strip mall next door, and I assumed their prices for gift wrappy things would be better that Wally World's. After an hour in the store (and let's be honest - probably $100) I put our bags in the car and trekked across the parking lot with the kiddos in tow. Turns out the party supply place closes at 5 on Sundays.

No problem! We'll just head to Kohl's for more back-to-school shopping goodness! And the shopping did commence.

Monday rolls around and I go to work, the kids are home with The Hubster until he goes to work in the afternoon. I pick them up around 5:30 and decide that right off the bat -- we're going to finish our shopping!

Why in God's name did I think this was a good idea?!? Shopping with small children two days in a row?


We hit the party supply place first. The kids were all over the place - roaming the isles, Greco-Roman wrestling over who got to try on the last "Over-the-hill" party hat on the shelf and just generally not listening to a word I said. Meanwhile, I was staring at the wall that used to contain inexpensively priced gift bags and am trying to remember how much I saw gift bags for at Wally World. Cuz those? Were uggo. And pricey. I made a few selections and decided that we were going back to Wally World, after all.

I bribed my children with the promise of candy and went to the register to pay. While standing there, listening to the pot head high school kid working the register tell me "Yeaaaahhhh...we're like, under new management and stuff? We don't have, like, as much STUUUUHHHHFFFF as we used to?" I was swatting at my children like they were gnats, trying to keep their hands off all the crap hanging on hooks below the counter. When the stoner kid starts to say, "Yeaaahhhh...we just, like, ordered a bunch of stuff, you know?" I was trying to separate my children from each other using my body and failing. Finally I gave up on the kids, figuring that if they were "so low on inventory" and had a moron like that at the counter then they could put up with the bickering and fighting while I fished out my debit card.

Then -- SNAP!

And "Uh oh Mom! I'm sorry!"

Nick had grabbed one of the display hooks holding pre-paid long distance cards (or some such crap) that was hanging at five-year-old monkey business level and had begun to shake it. (Don't ask why. Please. I have no fracking idea. He claimed he didn't know.) It had broken off in his hand.

I apologized profusely - probably WAY more than I should have - but finally we got out of that store and we went on to the next. Wal-Mart had tons more gift wrap-a-dos, but the gift wrap isle is RIGHT next to the massively insane school supply isles. My children were nearly killing each other at this point and touching everything on the shelves. I was trying to make sound purchase decisions while not going over budget and not freaking out that my children were LYING ON THE FLOOR while school supply isle overflow was making its way down our isle.

Finally they found the musical cards and I got five minutes to grab some rolls of wrapping paper and scotch tape. I, of course, went WAY over budget.

But finally it was time to leave, and we checked out. We have a rule - each kid must hold on to a side of the cart when we're leaving the store. They often do it in the store as well, but this way A) they're not near each other (one goes on each side) B) they're holding on to something while we're in the parking lot and C) they're not touching all of the candy and crap toys stores like to put near the checkout lanes.

Only on that day? My head was turned to my right when I suddenly heard a SHRIEK! and a WHAAAA! and I'm like, WHAT THE--?!?

I turned to my left to see my sweet little three-year-old son following my directions - my explicit instructions that he not let go of the cart under any circumstances or so help me GOD I'm taking away TV! - and find that he has tripped, fallen into the wheel of the cart and IS BEING DRAGGED BEHIND IT.

I don't know that I've ever felt so horrible.

Will had a huge gash on his knee and his face was like 2" from the cart wheel and he was still desperately trying to hold on to the side of the cart.

I'm such an ass.

I picked up my crying boy and it was all I could do not to cry with him. We finally made it to the car where I cleaned the wound with a baby wipe and hugged him, rubbing his back until the tears ceased. I had to call The Hubster -- I just had to. I just had to share that particular moment of over-whelmed, over-worked, over-EVERYTHINGED with someone, and who better than my husband?

Actually getting to talk to him while he's working is hit or miss. There are only so many times he'll actually be in the squad car to answer. Some days I leave him messages, filling him in on what we're doing - how our lives are going - what we're doing without him. Other days I get his voice mail and its simply too depressing to leave him a message AGAIN. On this craptasitc day of all days?

He couldn't talk cuz he had someone in the car doing a ride-along.

Somehow, that was much, much worse than getting his voice mail. It was like, how can I possibly give up any more? The few minutes that I might get of his time in my long LONG day were being given to someone else. It was bad enough that our schedules were so opposite lately, and that he'd been working lots of over time, and 'at the last minute unplanned' over time at that.

I just hung up. It was horrible.

The boys and I went home and had sandwiches for dinner (or cereal, I can't remember now). Later, when they were in bed, I had myself a nice long cry.

I know I need to slow things down a bit - I've been saying it for awhile - but I just can't imagine what I'd give up to make things balance better, you know? I just know that I'm going to make a concerted effort to work the "fun" back into my life. A little time for lunch with a friend, or a workout at the Y, or...I don't know. Something.


LceeL said...

Put your kids in the car, find out where your husband's patrol area is, carefully drive up there and find his car and THEN SPEED!!!! At least you'll get to talk to him for a while.

Kelly said...

I am sooooo glad that I am not the only one who has days ( and weeks ) like this. I am also glad to know that my kids arent the only ones who seem to lose their marbles the minute we walk into a store!! Thanks so much for posting this! :)

Lauren said...

Oh, I'm crying just reading about it. Don't worry, you did the best you could, and at least Will wasn't too badly hurt. He'll survive and so will you; hang in there!

Christine said...

That did make me feel better; thanks! And just think about what fun things you can spend the Hubby's overtime money on!

Melisa with one S said...

Oh my goodness, I think the cart thing just put you over the edge: it's STILL not wrong to insist that they hold on to the cart in the parking lot, because they're truly safer!

I wish I didn't live 90 minutes away. I'd run up there to see you tonight and watch the kids so you could escape for a while!

Try to relax; take a bath or something after the kids are in bed tonight. Although it's not "going out with a friend", trying to find ways to relax at home late at night (not focusing on bills, the internet, or any other obligations) might help a little bit.

Oh, and that "saying no" thing? You need to start doing that. I started about 2 years ago (and I'm much older than you! :) ) and you wouldn't believe how freeing it is to throw your hands up and say, "Oh, I don't have time to do that...sorry!"


Laura said...

You definitely are not alone - and definitely not a bad mom. As a mom that works full time outside the home and has 2 girls 18 months apart, I sympathize.

Lindsey said...

I love your blog. And you know what? We've ALL had that moment, the WalMart mom moment. My friends and I actually refer to it as such when we are acting particularly out of our minds... "I was totally the WalMart Mom today." More power to you for sharing. It certainly didn't make me feel better per se, but it did reassure me that I'm not alone in the craziness. I had a bit of a breakdown myself yesterday... maybe this will give you a laugh?

Heather said...

awww, honey! i am sorry you had a such a bad week/day! i hope this one is MUCH better!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Oh, Colleen. I'm in tears reading this. I am at that worn down to bare bones place myself, so I know what you're talking about. I know about working and weird schedules and not enough down time and wanting to do more than maybe you can. I hope this week is better for you. (And for me. Just bein' honest here.)

Anonymous said...

I know this is a week later...but sending you lots of hugs. We've all had days like this! xo