This morning I had an epic mom fail. This week has been a little crazy and I have gone to great lengths to remember each and every dress up day theme for the great Dr. Seuss’ birthday. (Side note: can we talk about how dress up days in early elementary school are nothing more than an additional opportunity for parents to fail their kids? While Levi has great ideas about how he can dress up for Wacky Wednesday: “Mom! I could dress up as a Lego train!” it is up to me to find a simpler and cheaper way to achieve his desired look. In this case, I changed his desired look to be a backwards shirt and mismatched shoes.) We also had family in town this week that we rarely see and took every opportunity to spend as much time with them as possible which resulted in a lot of early morning homework, skipped baths and late bedtimes, as well as a week of fun Levi will remember for a long time. I am also Levi’s room mom which means I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about field days and field trips and class parties and PTA meetings and making sure I send in snacks that make me look like a Trader Joe’s mom and not a 7-Eleven mom and sending out email reminders to parents without making them feel as if they are failing miserably because they forgot to send their kid in a crazy hat.
So this morning as Levi and I were walking to school and I was basking in the glow of Friday and dreaming about a weekend filled with NOT having to think even once about Dr. Seuss and his crazy, whimsical world that is trying to eat my soul one fish, two fish at a time, I could not shake the feeling I was forgetting something. I went through my mental checklist as I half listened to him try to figure out why his school doesn’t have an indoor playground. It wasn’t his lunch. I remembered to pack it AND use a cookie cutter to make his sandwich into a train. It wasn’t his homework folder. I had tucked that back into his backpack as he had scribbled down his last answer this morning. It wasn’t the red folder that has to be signed every day and returned to school the next morning. I remembered both the folder and the signature. It wasn’t sending in snacks for the class pantry because I sent those in on Monday. It wasn’t anything about field day because that blessed event isn’t until Thursday and I had already sent the printed iron ons back to Levi’s teacher yesterday so she could iron them on their class field day shirts this weekend. What was it?! It drove me crazy. Finally as we reached his school and I told him, irony of ironies, to just do his best, I decided it must have been nothing. My brain must just be so overloaded with writing deadlines and weekly menus and grocery lists and calendar events that it must just be assuming I missed something along the way.
And then I walked passed one of Levi’s classmates walking up to school and I saw she was wearing her bright coral colored Audubon Park kindergarten shirt and I realized my mistake. It was Friday! Every Friday is Spirit Day and the kids are supposed to wear an Audubon Park t-shirt to school. And if every kid in the class wears their shirt on one Friday then the class gets a pizza party. A PIZZA PARTY! The holy grail of school lunches! Levi’s teacher had even texted us all the night before to remind us but I had been in the middle of a family dinner and forgot to really pay attention. And this morning was such a cluster of just getting out the door with his Mickey ears on, it didn’t even occur to me to remember why Friday is extra important. And suddenly it didn’t matter how many things I had gotten right this week. It didn’t matter I had remembered Crazy Sock Day, Wacky Wednesday, and Bring Your Pet to School Day. Or that I had sent in the right snacks on the right day. Or that I had packed my child a somewhat nutritious lunch every day. Or that my son had told me he loved me right after we got off his favorite ride at Disney earlier that week. All of those accomplishments, those little wins, just went right out the door in light of my big fat failure of forgetting Spirit Day.
I immediately texted his teacher and told her my mistake. And begged her to let me know if Levi was sad or embarrassed that his mom had failed him and that I could bring his shirt right over. She responded a few minutes later telling me Levi was so stoked to be wearing his Mickey ears for crazy hat day he didn’t even care when she told him I would bring him the right shirt for the day. He didn’t care at all. And yet my whole walk home I beat myself up for being human.
This is a silly example I know. And I know that most of you reading this are thinking you have committed far worse mistakes, but I share this example because it’s the least painful one I have these days of my failures trying to eat me alive. I started 2017 with a few risky and scary resolutions and they are all proving to be so much more difficult and painful than I dreamed they would be. I feel these days as if everything I touch screams back failure in my face. I had a conversation with a friend yesterday who is feeling the same way and we commiserated for awhile on our shortcomings and our complete and total shame over being human.
I left that conversation feeling slightly less alone (because I will always be a “misery loves company” kind of gal) but also with a sharp and thorny realization. Sometimes you have to redefine the win for yourself. In the past, wins for me were always easily defined as setting my mind to attacking a task and then completing that task. I didn’t try new things because I might fail. I didn’t set the bar too high because I might/most definitely fail to clear it. The win was easy to define and also very easy to achieve.
This year the tasks are much harder. My goals are much loftier. And I don’t honestly know if I will clear them. And I have a choice. I can spend the year bemoaning all of the mistakes I have made, the high jumps I didn’t not only not clear but in fact, jumped face first into and took the whole freaking high jump system down into a burning mass of flames with me OR I can refine success. I can celebrate the little wins that add up to a huge success. I can be proud of myself for remembering the Cat in the Hat days and the snacks and that my son loves me even when I forget all of those things and for facing the criticism of my writing instructor head on. I can celebrate that my husband feels loved, respected and protected by me instead of focusing on how many times I mess up and hurt his feelings that week.
Life doesn’t get easier. It just doesn’t. Sometimes there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes the hard season turns into a hard year. But we don’t have to go down in flames every time we fail. Sometimes we have to realize we are simply human. And simply humans make mistakes, forget Spirit Days and cry over critiques. And then we try it again.