Let's face it, we all have a breaking point. That critical moment when the wrong words, the cup of spilled milk, the fact that you've had your underwear on inside out all day becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back. We've all been there, some of us more often than others. People have told me that I've got it "all put together" or that I'm so organized, composed, and professional. What they don't know, is that my house is a mess, we've had fast food at least three times this week, I haven't showered in three days, and I'm desperately clawing at the last tiny string at the end of my rope.
Two days ago, I took Lucas to preschool wearing dirty jeans (already worn twice!) and a sweatshirt, with no makeup, and hasn't-been-washed hair. I didn't care. I was nearing the end of my mental capacity, and I didn't care who saw me, or what they thought. I'd spent the day before "catching up" on housework, laundry, dishes, and trying to recuperate from the constant "go" our family had been experiencing for the weeks prior, and I was just waiting for the bottom to fall out. I prayed a lot, and it didn't happen. Cue Wednesday, the day where I teach a class of six bright-eyed, energetic three-year-olds, and Lucas attends a class across the hall. It's was one of those days where you could hear his voice a mile away, and I lost count of the number of times his Teacher said, "Luuuuucas, no thank you!" before he was there, at my classroom door, holding the hand of his rather discouraged-looking Teacher. It was then I realized, I'm that mom. I'm the mom that everyone thinks has it together, but I don't. I spent the majority of last night bawling myself to sleep. My wonderful husband, who could sleep through a train clambering its way through our bedroom, laid clueless as I drowned in my self-inflicted shortcomings. I felt like everything I'd done as a mom was wrong. All of the times that I thought I was doing the "right thing" now seemed quite the opposite.
Today, I lost hold of that one tiny string at the end of my rope, when my son's Tuesday/Thursday pre-school teacher said, "Good afternoon, Mrs. Bolinger, can you stay after today to discuss Lucas' behavior?" I lost it. I was ugly-crying my eyes out in front of his teacher when a friend came in. She very politely pretended she didn't see me, and went about her business of preparing for the class' halloween party. A couple of hours later, I received a text message from her that read, "I could empathize with you this afternoon, it's none of my business just thought I'd let you know that I said a prayer for you". And it changed everything. It was at that moment I realized that I'm not alone. There are probably a million moms who have ugly cried in front of their child's preschool teacher, or who have "lost it" over something silly. I'm not the first person to go through this, and for the first time in a long time, I took a big, deep breath, and stood a little taller. I resolved to not to get myself down, or compare my parenting to someone else. Lucas is only three years old. Three! He's growing, he's learning, he's going to make mistakes, and he's going to refuse to listen to adults sometimes (and his wife one day, too!). It's what I do about this situation that defines me as a mom. Do I let go of my rope and keep falling down into the depths of self-doubting deprecation, or do I reach for another tiny string, and pull myself out of this rut? Do I let a little bit of typical toddler behavior get me down, or build up my mom arsenal? Today is a chance to learn, tomorrow is a new day, and so is the one after that.