I'm having a "Bad Mommy" kind of morning (and not just because the twins are watching Super Why as I type this…). We've had a rough couple of days, with another round of colds times four, which is keeping us up at night, a bit of stress as I am potty training one of the twins, more stress trying to plan a bridal shower for my sister from afar and being at the mercy of really slow people in the South, and I feel like it all came to a head this morning.
So, I woke up on the couch this morning, for the fifth consecutive night, after another rough night of coughing children, runny noses, barfing up phlegm - Sierra sleeping on the living room floor, Kelsey sleeping in the room off the kitchen, and I've fallen mildly sick now, too. So my head is rattled, at best. Quinn comes downstairs at 6:40, and lays at the end of the couch, since he's been warned to keep his distance so he doesn't contract the sickness again (he started it last week). I eventually pull it together, get up, rouse Sierra from her sleeping bag (she looks especially beautiful in her sleep), make Quinn a healthy snack for school and his lunch for Extended Day, prepare breakfast, change diapers, talk Kelsey into trying a pull-up diaper again but she's sick so she hasn't been interested for the past two days, after a very successful first week last week. Everyone is eating and the kids are being silly, my head is swimming but I'm trying to be upbeat for the kids. I notice it's already 8 a.m., and we leave for the bus stop at 8:20, so I quickly clear off the table and run upstairs to get dressed and pick out clothes for the kids, while Quinn goes into the downstairs bathroom to supposedly brush his teeth and the girls look at books at the living room table.
I'm upstairs half-dressed when I hear Quinn praising Kelsey and calling up to me "Mommy, Kelsey peed in the potty!", and all I can think is "Oh No…". I rush downstairs, swipe a kleenex across Sierra's nose as I pass her, and enter the bathroom where Quinn hasn't brushed his teeth and Kelsey is sitting on the training potty - this would all be fine, except that Kelsey doesn't always sit far enough back on the potty and pees on the seat. She says "It's okay, Mommy, Quinn wiped it up", and I cringe a bit as I notice that yes, Quinn must have wiped the pee off the seat, but there is pee all over her pull-up and pajamas around her ankles, on the floor surrounding the potty, and after I wipe her and get her up, all over inside the potty; but not in the right part, instead it's under the pot that catches it… I try not to be negative, so she doesn't became scared to use the potty - I tell her it's great that she stayed dry and used the potty instead, but to make sure Mommy is with her next time. She smiles, then sneezes, snot all over her face, and now in my face because I was talking on her level. Super.
So, I tell Quinn to hurry with his teeth, and to then come upstairs, and I lift a naked Kelsey over my shoulder and take both girls upstairs to get them dressed. It's now 8:15, and as I'm laying out clothes in the correct order for the girls to dress themselves (with varied success), the phone rings. It's my Mom (and she never calls from her cell phone so I answer it despite the mayhem around me) and she says that she's at work and telling the girls about the place where I've finally picked to host the bridal shower in May (after two and a half weeks of getting the run around and no responses to oodles of messages and emails I've sent - maddening!) is in the middle of, well, the projects. Seriously… but it kind of makes sense since the aerial photos I looked at (yep, aerial photos, cause that's just how I do things) looked like many brick buildings situated just so, but my, how the interior pictures of the space were deceiving! I'm glad she found out so I can find something that says "Garden Party" instead of "Gang Initiation Party" (yes, I realize this is a sweeping generalization and stereotype, still, I can't help that it pops into my mind)… But as I stand there in my room, red clock numbers now saying 8:22 (bus comes at 8:26), Quinn in his underpants swinging his shirt helicopter style over his head, chasing naked Kelsey and droopy diaper girl Sierra though the hall, I just want to cry, but I know that will just make my nose worse. I hang up, take several deep breaths and say "Okay, I'm driving you to school today" - this buys us about 12 minutes. So I get dressed, wipe more noses as I dress the girls, scowl at Quinn to just get dressed, and we're downstairs…
I run into the bathroom to clean the pee up from the floor and the potty; I don't want to leave it that way for hours while the girls and I run some errands after dropping Quinn off (I had planned to go to the party store for bridal shower things, and it doesn't even occur to me that I won't be going there now that the venue is undecided again). Then I rush back out and stuff Quinn's lunch and snack bags into his backpack, his framed four-leaf clovers into his bag, and snow pants and boots into a separate bag in case they can play outside at Extended Day, lay out the girls coats, socks, and shoes, so they can do that themselves. I bend down to tie Quinn's sneakers, don't even have time to show his the 'bunny ears, around the tree, through the hole' like I usually try to do; annoyed that I have to zip his coat even though he's perfectly capable of doing that himself. Kelsey hits me in the face with her coat zipper, which is an accident, but that annoys me, too. Sierra coughs in my face as I switch her shoes onto the opposite feet and zip her up, I groan even though I know she can't help that she's sick. No time to brush there teeth; or my own, for that matter… And we run out the door to pile into the van.
It's 8:42 - school starts at 8:55 and it's only a 5 minute drive, but my stomach gurgles as I think of traffic getting through the only light on this side of town, which usually backs up at this time of day. I hate to think that he will be tardy, my poor sweet boy! I hate that it's my fault, but he will suffer a "tardy" on his permanent record. Coughs and sneezes from the backseat echo in the hollows of my mind, and I try not to even look because it's not like I can go back there and wipe up their faces. I remind Quinn of the school's strict drop-off policy - child is to to jump from the car (as soon as it stops, hopefully), take their bags, and rush into school - parents are not to get out of the car, not even for a hug or kiss goodbye, and pull immediately away from the building. We've dropped off once before, and it all went fine, so hopefully this time will be no different.
Of course the traffic is backed up at the light, and by the time I turn into the school driveway, my car clock reads 8:55. We are one of three cars pulling in though. I tell Quinn to unbuckle himself before we stop, and I unlock the doors, open his door automatically as I put the car into park (which is probably also a No-No, must stay in drive…). I rub his cheek as he gathers his backpack and the recycled Disney Store bag housing his snow pants and snow boots, and he steps out onto the curb. "I love you!", I call, as he doddles slowly slowly up the sidewalk. He has only taken a couple steps when he turns and gives me a sad look, and my heart tears in two because I know I'm not allowed to get out, and the parking lot is 50 yards away, and then I'd take too long to get the girls out of the car to get back to him… So, awful mother that I am, I point toward the school and tell him (through closed windows and doors) - "Go! Hurry! Go!". He turns to go again, and I can see his Disney bag is dangling precariously, and after a few more steps the bag falls and he's left holding just the snow pants. There are three other parents standing near the door, but typical snooty Sudbury, no one makes a move to help him. He stands and looks at them for help for a minute, but they're chatting away, possibly haven't even noticed him. And I can't actually be mad at them for not helping, even though I know I am the type of person who would notice and would help a child in need, but this whole thing is my fault, and now he's probably feeling sad because he doesn't know what to do. He looks back to me, where the van is still near the curb - I wanted to see him get through the doors, so I would know he was safely inside, but they've now been locked since the school day has officially started, and he doesn't know what to do (you have to push a button and stand in front of a camera to get inside)… All I want to do is run to him and help him feel okay, I don't want him to start his school day like this! My eyes meet with his, I feel panic wash over me, so, I pull over to the parking lot and park illegally in the first spot, handicapped, which is still 20 yards up to the school - I pull the keys from the ignition, lock the doors with the girls inside, feeling really guilty about leaving the girls in the car (what if someone sees?), but I have to act fast so he doesn't cry!
As I start running toward the building, I can see the front door open - someone is walking away from the door and I don't see Quinn now, so I am guessing that he has gotten inside. He did go inside, right? And now I should stop and go back to the deserted girls in the van, right? All I can think is that last look our eyes shared, and I consider that when I pulled the van away from the curb at that moment, he might have thought I was just leaving him in his predicament, when I was actually parking so I could go and help! I picture My poor boy, distraught from such a horrible way to start his school day, carrying a "Tardy" slip down to his classroom. And I won't even see him until I pick him up at 3 p.m. after his extended day program (at which point, I am going to squeeze him of the rest of the day) - I hope this doesn't make him feel bad the entire day, even though I know I will make me feel bad for the whole day. I hope it has phased me much more than him.
What awful mother lets her child go through that? What awful mother rushes her child and thinks more of the rules and not my children's feelings first and foremost? What awful mother gets annoyed at her children for being sick and not being able to sleep? I wish I didn't let these things bother me so, because I don't want my frustration to be what sticks with the kids, I want them to remember the fun and the love!
I sat in the van for several minutes, trying to decide what to do next - go inside to check on him or let it rest and go on with our day. I felt so shaken from the experience, and I found myself explaining to the girls what happened, as if I'm trying to rationalize it for them, but I know it's just for myself. I want to make it okay in my mind so I can get over the guilt and move on. Is it fair for me to move on when maybe he is feeling sad or maybe even crying inside the school? The rational part of me feels like there's only about a 2% chance that he's actually crying - he was probably relieved when the door opened, and the woman at the front desk would never make him, or any young child, feel bad about being tardy (I'm sure she's well aware that 9 times out of 10, it's the parents fault, case in point). And now I think of how ridiculous it all was - I never should have rushed him like that. I'm normally such a well-prepared, punctual person, but this morning, things just got away from me. I should have just accepted that he was going to be late, and just parked, got the girls out, and walked him to the door anyway, but I was apparently more concerned with him being "tardy" that I just wanted him to run inside, but he's 6, he doesn't think that way. It was so hard to decide what to do in that moment, when it was all happening so fast, but it's just one more opportunity to learn what I will do differently in the future. I honestly don't know what the "right thing to have done" is at this moment (teach him independence or always rush to his rescue? how does one teach promptness in the first place? I'll definitely tell him the steps to get into the school door though), but hopefully I will figure it out before the next time!
So, that's my Bad Mommy Moment - hopefully that's the only one for today…