On Twitter, thousands of moms find themselves on #momfail every day. Whether they put themselves there, or someone else put them there is irrelevant. Today, I found myself joining the long line of failed moms.
In my last post I talked about how stressed I was, and how it just didn't seem like I had enough time in the day.
This morning, the most important of all the balls I've been juggling lately hit the ground.
I was in such a rush to get to the school to decorate a room for a bunch of strangers that I actually drove off without my older daughter.
I thought she was in the car already. She was talking to me in her usual constant stream of chatter. telling me all the things that go through her 6 year old mind. I saw her throw her back pack in the car as I clicked her sister's car seat into it's base. I could have sworn I heard her door shut just after I shut mine. So I put the car in gear and started down the drive way.
I was not ready for what happened next.
Mid-sentence, possibly even mid word, she started screaming, "Mom, MOM! MAMA!! WAIT, MAMA, WAIT!"
I turned around and realized that I had pulled away before she got in the car.
The door was hanging open, and she was standing at the top of the driveway crying hysterically. Tears were running down her face, and she was sobbing in great heaving, hiccupy sobs.
I felt sick.
Did I run over her foot?
I motioned for her to come get in the car, and she ran full tilt down the driveway.
She got in the car and through her sobs asked, "Why did you leave me?"
I apologized, and asked her if she was hurt. She said no, and I apologized some more. I waited while she closed the door and got her buckles hooked and apologized some more. All the way to school I held her hand and apologized. I walked her up to her classroom (something I haven'd done for almost a year because she's a big kid now) and apologized some more. I hugged and kissed her several times in the hallway, and helped her get into her classroom.
I still felt sick, but worse than that, I felt like I let her down.
When she was born, I stayed home with her for two years. Then finances required me to go back to work, and I hated it. I felt stressed and rushed with her all the time, and I missed out on a lot of firsts because of the hours I worked. I remember thinking to myself that this is not how it's supposed to be, and that if I ever had another baby I wouldn't let it be like this.
Fast-forward four years, and here I am with a new baby. I don't have a time clock to punch, but I'm still stressed and rushed to the point that I drove off without one of my children.
I vaguely remember the days when I could focus my full attention on just one thought, task or idea. Now if I'm not doing at least two things at once, I feel like I'm letting someone down. While folding laundry, I was composing this blog post in my head. Now, I'm breastfeeding while I type, and monitoring homework progress.
After the incident this morning, I took a step back and looked at what my life had become. I rush from commitment to commitment, hurrying my children along so I don't let others (often strangers) down.
My life had become a juggling act.
Staff Appreciation Week
Various random promises to The Angry Midget
An endless list of errands and chores...
All things I enjoy. Well, at least I used to...
It suddenly became very clear to me that with all this juggling, I was simply touching everything briefly, often not even long enough to enjoy it.
I wasn't really holding anything at all, and somewhere in that mix was my family.
Soon, some of those balls will go back in the basket. I'll have to think long and hard about whether or not I'll get them back out again when the time comes. Other's I can let slip down to my pocket for a while. Maybe I'll get them back out, maybe I'll put them in a basket. Then there are the ones that never go away. The ones I have to keep to make sure life is comfortable, like grocery shopping and laundry. But the three that are out of the rotation for good are my family.
I'm not going to juggle them anymore.
They will be held.
Just as they should be.
Together, and close to my heart.