When You Do Something Right

Listen. I support all women however they chose to act today. I feel like last year, International Women’s Day came with less “This Is How We Do” because we weren’t actively fighting for our lives. Literally. But today I saw a lot of, “I am/am not participating in #ADayWithoutWomen because reasons.”

All of those reasons are valid.

Of note: All of the men telling all of the women that all of their reasons were invalid are why we need a day dedicated to women around the world. But I digress.

Today for me? Well, today was a day.

I woke up the youngest child a little later than usual, hoping the extra sleep might magically make him all better from the illness he procured from a friend the day before; germs are gross. I took his temperature. No fever. I asked him how his belly felt. “It feels good now.” I fed him oatmeal. He got ready. They waited for the bus. And off he went to school.

You know what’s coming right?

He got to school and within 15 minutes, the kid puked. Because of course he did.

I went and picked him up, drove us home, and covered him up in bed. He slept for a few hours while I did a little work. And then he woke up in a state that I can only call Post-Sickness Hyper.

“Mom. Mom. Mom. Hey, mom! Do you wanna do this? Do you wanna do that? Mom! MOM! HEY, MOM!”

When you work from home and you have a Sick Child at home who, post-nap becomes a Very Unsick Child, the guilt rolls right on out. I mean, especially if you already sent him to school once and he puked. Way to get it wrong, mom. I tried to find a balance between sitting on the couch and watching Ninjago (…blink, blink…) and getting some work done.

If you’re wondering, I failed this task in an epic manner. No balance was to be had. I didn’t get my daily workout in until 8:15 after I rushed my sons through their showers, tapping my toe like some kind of task master. I hate feeling like that, doing those things. It leaves a truly awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.

We’re told that we’re supposed to enjoy every moment of motherhood. Don’t rush bedtime. Spend time reading and resting together. Like some kind of linen or pajama commercial. You guys, I just can’t hang with the commercial style life. I’m a mess nine times out of ten, flying by the seat of my pants. No company is ever going to put me in a commercial about our bedtime routine.

But I need to back up. Way to the beginning of the day, before I even woke the hopefully-better but still-sick-child.

Our oldest son always wakes up first. He’s an early riser in a family of non-early-risers and has been since birth. His face is always the first thing I see every single day. THISCLOSE. I got him situated with breakfast before I went to wake up his brother, so he was done, teeth brushed, and off to get dressed while I got Booey up and to the breakfast bar.

I heard him call from his room.

“Mom! I thought you said you were going to lay out a red shirt for me today.”

I nearly sat down and cried.

As you know, women who, for whatever reason, could not strike today during #ADayWithoutWomen, as well as feminist men, were asked to wear red in a show of solidarity. During the news the night before, which yes, my sons ask to watch every night, International Women’s Day as well as the strike came up. Our oldest son asked what wearing red meant. I explained. He asked to wear red. I, being the giant, overwhelmed, semi-failure that I am, had already laid out clothes for the next day, and didn’t remember to switch out his shirt for a red long-sleeved tee.

And he remembered. And called me on it. At 7:35 AM.

I don’t even know my middle name at 7:35 AM.

“Your red shirt is close to the top of your long sleeved shirts drawer. Grab it and put it on.”

And he did.

Yes, I had to work today, both in the form of a working woman and in the form of a mother who has to clean pukey things and wash dishes and do laundry and take dogs out as well as the trash. Yes, I did both paid and unpaid work today. I also shopped from a few women owned businesses. But my eleven-year-old son, my tween, recognized some kind of importance in something I said. Somethings I said, because it’s not like this is the first time I’ve discussed feminism and equality and respect and protest to my sons. No. My greatest task in life is to raise these boys into men who will go to bat for their female counterparts, who view women as equals not as sexualized objects, who don’t view feminism as a bad word.

Today I learned that I’m doing just that. Well. I’ll be.

 

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Deep Thoughts on Snow Day Four

Snow Day Four.

We slept in. They played video games while I did some work. We went to play with friends. Hit the library. Ate one of their favorite meals for dinner. Read books. I, personally, answered a billion and one questions.

Like, “If a blind person opens their eyes under water, does it still hurt?”

I’ve never, ever thought of that. My youngest son is always, always thinking. I think he’s fantastic.

Snow Day Four doesn’t hurt too much.

I figured they’d at least have a delay if not an entire Snow Day. I kind of wanted the full Snow Day because I wanted an excuse to be lazy. A lazy day with my boys and my dogs and some carbs, because we all need carbs in the winter. It’s how we survive, really.

And then I asked the older of the two boys to take the first, but younger, dog outside to do her business. He didn’t watch her. He didn’t know if she did her business. I was in the process of making dinner. I felt a little frustrated.

So I yelled.

I really don’t like yelling. I would rather avoid yelling. I want to talk about things, teach from a place of calm. Yelling scares me, so I know it has the potential to affect my boys in negative ways too.

My son went off to his room, on his own. I continued stirring homemade alfredo sauce, trying to time noodles and broccoli to end up cooked, but not over- or under-cooked all at the same time. He came out, cheeks and eyes red and swollen with tears.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

I took him into my arms, my chin resting on the top of his head.

“I know, buddy. But this is what Daddy and I have been talking about: responsibility, paying attention, being present. This is part of growing up and gaining more independence. It just comes with more responsibility. I love you. Always.”

He nodded. He went and got the book he picked at the library and sat at the dining room table to read while I finished up dinner. He helped set the table. He helped feed the dogs after we finished dinner. Everything went fine for the rest of the evening.

Much like I want my sons to know that one mistake is not the end of the world, I need to model that in my parenting. I sent my husband a text about how negatively I felt about myself for yelling. But if I expect my sons to rebound from supposed or surmised mistakes, shouldn’t I also do the same? Shouldn’t I also give myself the grace I afford them? Shouldn’t I work harder to forgive myself?

My therapist wants me to bring a picture of my 22-year-old—and pregnant—self to my next appointment in two weeks. I’m supposed to talk to myself, tell myself the reasons I’m still angry with that young, scared, very, very alone little mama. Because it’s true: I hold anger with absolutely no one else as to how everything happened. Except me. I’m so very angry with myself.

Today a friend related a story of a mutual friend’s unplanned pregnancy. She shared how she supported her friend through each step of the process. My heart welled up.

“I just needed you,” I said as I walked out the door, heading off to the library with the boys.
“I know.”

It is my goal to someday forgive myself. I know—I know—I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time. I repeat that to myself regularly. My therapist said the same thing at my last appointment. The tricky part is getting to the point of forgiveness, of letting it all go.

Because if I’m no longer mad at myself, what’s left?