Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life 101: Chaotic, Beautiful Lessons

I am officially the mother of a first grader.

His first day was last Monday and it was both exciting and adventurous. Despite a typical morning in our house of the pressure of a time clock, this morning we woke early – calm, giggling, with a hint of eagerness. I made a hearty breakfast of (frozen) waffles and fresh fruit, with his version of coffee (a cup of milk with a teaspoon of coffee in a mug). Although just a few blocks away, I typically drive him to school and immediately proceed to work; today we skipped needing the keys to the car and instead made the journey by foot. After walking him to his classroom I took photos of him at his desk, and then proceeded to gaze longingly in the hallway until he must have felt my watery eyes watching him, to which he turned around and gave me the “you can go now” look.

By Friday we were back in our normal routine. There is only one word to describe such chaos: CHAOS. Just like that. With all capital letters. In fact, our mornings are so chaotic, my son knows to yell out the time about every three minutes or so with an update on how far we are pushing the envelope yes, I did just insinuate that my son wears the watch in this household.

On this morning, we only had two minutes to spare as I squealed tires into the drop off lane. I was able to muster out in between my “quick, run, go now, run!!!” with an inspirational “have a lovely adventurous eventual fun filled learning day!”

At 11:30 that morning I received an email that had cc’d the principal informing me that my son was marked tardy that day. Instantly, I felt that twinge of failure – first tardy he has ever received, courtesy of his mother. And as my son is filled with compassion and a big heart, he is also filled with sarcasm, wit, and a dash of humor I like to think he gets from me … Verbal footage of our evening that night:

Upon pick up

Momma: Hey sweetheart! How was your day?

Tommy: I was tardy, how was yours?

At Dinner time

Momma: Eat your pasta, I mixed in the spinach.

Tommy: Did you know I was tardy today?

Clean up time

Momma: Go grab a shower while I clean up the kitchen.

Tommy: What do you know, I was tardy today.

At bedtime.

Momma: Alright my little man, bed time. You want a book tonight?

Tommy: Is it one about how Moms need to learn their lesson and not make their children tardy? No? Then no thank you … I’ll just have a glass of water.

I had officially become the mother of a first grader, attending dentition in guilt trip hour. What I forgot to mention, besides his tardy I gave him, was I also had been overwhelmed and snapping all week long. Complaining about my various hats I wear, such as the hats of a taxi driver, a maid, a chef, a teacher, a working single mother at her wits end and struggling to get through her days without buying stock in Kleenex. My schedule last week alone consisted of, but was not limited to, time spent at the office and at home, with both business and personal to do lists and deadlines. Errands, cooking, laundry, and vacuuming at 10pm while fighting the exhaustion. There was the added soccer practice, homework, a back to school night meeting the teacher, and the first meeting of tiger cub scouts. I was engulfed in confusion and frustration. Those emotions with the addition of the already overwhelming sense of panic and exhaustion and, I had yet another lesson in Parenting / Life 101.

What’s the lesson to be learned today class?

Although not pleasant, “tardies” will happen from time to time. However, you must learn to incorporate humor. Grant yourself some down time, and patience. Re-group, re-focus. Remember your priority – family. There may be more tardies, I hope not, but there may be – that’s the reality. We may “complain” of the struggles of juggling parenthood, but if given a choice, without question I know my son’s laughter alone is worth a daily dose of headaches and frustration, and a cc’d email to the principal when I mess up. I’m not perfect, by any means. Not as a parent, not as a person. But I will show up every day (sometimes tardy) eager for the lessons of life. Ready to make mistakes, and to learn from them.