When you see me I’m down here in the front row, cheering on my daughter who is performing in the school spring concert sporting her own unique style. She is totally rocking on stage in her orangey-peach flowered springtime “foofy” dress which happens to match her brand new cowboy boots that she won’t take off. You sit back in your seat wishing you were more like me, wishing you, too, had gotten here early so that you could be in a closer row. You see me take out my camera to adjust it to the stage lights and then the house lights go down and the show begins. You wish your pictures were going to turn out as well as mine. You see my daughter make her entrance onto the stage and take her place. You smile as she waves to me, and I wave back and then she points me out to all of her friends. You watch and listen and you wish your child was as well behaved, and maybe even as animated, as mine. You watch as after the concert I walk up to the stage to kiss her before she heads back to her class. You congratulate me on all these things, because, surely, I have it all together and you wish you were more like me.
What you missed in this one perfect morning in my life was me not waking up until 8 am because I didn’t have my phone in my bedroom. You missed when I ran from room to room frantically looking for my daughter because she wasn’t in her room. You missed my confusion as I wondered if her dad took her to school, and my frantic dash back down the hallway to check to see if her backpack and coat were still here. They were. You missed my frustration and anger emerging and cresting as I found her in the office on the computer watching videos with headphones on so she couldn’t hear me calling her and running through the house like a maniac. “Why didn’t you wake me up” I sort of yelled at her, while I’m silently telling myself it isn’t her job to wake me up. I’m the adult. “You know you don’t use the computer before school!” She knows this, but it, too, doesn’t matter and isn’t really her fault. “You know you have your concert today!”
You missed it when I took her by the hand and led her back to her room and asked her what dress she wanted to wear while she wiped tears away. You missed me feeling like crap for making her cry. You missed me yelling at myself for being mad at her when I was the one who messed up. You missed me yelling at myself for just everything. I set her clothes out and told her to hurry and dress.
I ran to my room to find clothes for me. Already late, I had to grab what was closest: jeans with a hole in one knee and a plaid shirt that just came out of the laundry. I am winning no “rocking outfit” awards today. When we both leave our rooms, dressed, I tell her to come in the bathroom and brush her teeth and hair. I help her with toothpaste because we are running out (sigh) and try to tell her she’s okay, none of this is her fault, please don’t cry all the while that voice in my head is saying “hurry! hurry! We are already late! Crying is slowing us down!” I hear myself mutter while I brush her hair “I don’t have time to DO your hair now.” And then I swear at myself because she’s apologizing. Again. “It’s not your fault, honey. It’s ok.” (Argh.)
At 8:09 we have coats and I grab my camera and stuff it in my backpack muttering “I don’t have time to check it now” and open the door and say, “Come on.” She apologizes again.
“It’s not your fault. It’s okay. This is my fault. I’m the one who didn’t wake up. It was my mistake.”
We walk/run to school. She’s only been going to this school for a month, and today is her first tardy. It was totally avoidable. It’s also inexcusable because “Mom is an idiot” isn’t an acceptable reason to be late. We walked into the school right when the bell rang. So close.
I hug her and kiss her and send her off to her class and I head to the auditorium to wait. She usually eats breakfast in school in the morning. Not today. I am such a bad mom.
I take a deep breath and decide to check my camera. I turn it on and it tells me I have no memory card. It’s at home in my laptop. Of course it is. Near tears, I sigh and put the camera back in my backpack. Now there will be no pictures of her first concert. I don’t even have my smartphone because I had my service shut off. I couldn’t use it to text or call anyone and it doesn’t do anything else without WiFi so I left it home. Now I don’t even have that to take pictures.
As the last parents file in and sit and the lights go down I’m silently doing Lamaze breathing because Iamthisclose to crying. I had one job. When we said prayers last night I even prayed that I would get some good pictures to show her daddy because he would be at work. Now I’ve let him down too.
I don’t have a program. I was here so early that they weren’t handing them out yet. I’ll have to try to find one on the way out. If I can’t take pictures I should at least save the program. The school choir sings first. My child isn’t in that so I wait. After they finish, the music teacher announces that the fourth grade will be next. They’re going in reverse order. My daughter is in first grade. Dammit. I sit through unknown children in fourth grade playing recorders.
I sit through more unknown kids with recorders in third grade. I sit through second graders singing silly songs. Then I sit up because first grade is next, right?
No. Because of lunch (lunch!!) kindergarten is next and first grade will be last so I sit through kindergartners too. -.-
Finally my daughter’s class comes out and takes their places on the risers. I see her before she comes out because I can see her cowboy boots under the curtain. I am all smiles, waiting for her to see me. She is all smiles when she finds me. Their first song is about how Mom makes the bad things better. Those tears I was fighting off escape. I fake a sneeze and wipe my eyes and pretend it’s allergies.
I watch her sing and dance. She knows all the words even though she hasn’t been there as long as the other kids. She knows all the moves. She watches her music teacher as he conducts and between songs she looks at me, smiling. As I sit there through her three songs I feel…honestly I still feel like crap, but I am thankful. I was so blessed to get her. She’s amazing and sweet, talented and beautiful and she’s mine. It’s a privilege to be her mom. She is happy despite this morning. I should never be mad at her. She is so precious. In that moment, life is pretty good. I kiss her as she leaves the stage and walk to the back of the auditorium. I happen to get there the same time her class does so we hug and kiss again and I tell her she did an awesome job.
I make my way back toward her classroom to see the art they’ve made for today. Spring concert AND art show. On the way, her class catches up again. She holds my hand and we walk to her room together. She kisses me and tells me she will miss me. I tell her I will see her after school. I see her art project – her name surrounded by hand drawn pictures of the things she loves: rainbows, her cat, pizza and me.
But I can’t take a picture of it because of this morning. I start walking home, glad the sun is trying to come out, thankful that it rained while I was inside because I didn’t bring my umbrella either. A block away from the school I remember I didn’t get a program. I sigh and walk home.
When I get home I stop in the bathroom and look at the tired, frazzled woman in my mirror. Then I realize not only did I not have time to put makeup on…I also didn’t wash off the face mask that I put on before bed. Holy crap. It’s almost 11 am and for the last 3 hours I’ve been in public with stuff on my face. Thank god it dries clear and no one got close enough to see…anything. I hope. Holy crap.
I wash my face and sit on the couch trying to be happy. Trying to be thankful, and trying to feel the love I have for my family and our new home and our new city and I am still fighting off tears. I guess, I want you to know that more often than not I’m the girl who still second-guesses herself, who fumbles a lot, makes mistakes and carries around massive amounts of guilt and worry.
But sometimes. When the planets align. When Hell freezes over. I am the mom down front.