Tonight I’m a rotten mom.
A few weeks ago I completely forgot about a Flat Stanley project in my son’s preschool class. As I described earlier, this had the potential to send me reeling, but I managed to recover without coming unhinged over it. This was definitely progress.
But then…I realized that not only had I forgotten about the project, I couldn’t find Flat Stanley anywhere. I tore the house apart but no luck. I know at some point, Flat Stanley was on my kitchen counter – but unfortunately that could be said for most paper that enters the house – so that didn’t narrow it down much. I even tried to let my son take the blame for it (cue Horrible Mom Music) but he insisted that he had given it to me.
At some point, I decided that Flat Stanley was gone, and the project was over, and I would just sweep this one under the carpet.
Until… I realized that I was missing my daughter M’s spring pictures (which were actually quite lovely for once). She was freaked out that she would get in trouble for not turning in her picture money. I was freaked out that we would have to pay for a whole packet of pictures. I contacted her teacher, who said I could turn in the money later, but still no pictures.
I started to put the pieces together and it occurred to me that I was probably missing a whole stack of papers. A stack that had probably gotten scooped up in a cleaning frenzy. So I tore the house apart again, looking for the missing stack of papers. I prayed to St. Anthony and promised him money, as any good Catholic girl would do. But the papers haven’t turned up. My best guess is that they went in a bag which mistakenly landed in the trash.
I tried to do what I had done with Flat Stanley – decide that the papers are lost, the damage is done, and sweep the whole thing under the carpet. But I can’t. I keep coming back to the voice that tells me it’s horrible to misplace all those papers – especially papers that are important to the kids. That it’s irresponsible and not at all Good-Mother-ly.
To be truthful, this isn’t the first time that my lack of organizational skills at home has caused me to lose something. But there were always extenuating circumstances before. Like the fact that I had three very young children. Or that my husband was gone for months and months at a time, and I was a single parent. But the kids are older now, so that doesn’t carry as much weight. And the husband? He’s home all the time now too. I could tell myself that I’m doing the best I can to keep plowing ahead through my depression, and that some things may fall by the wayside. But even that seems like an excuse.
I know that I should be forgiving of myself. Shit happens. Things get lost. Flat Stanleys end up in the trash. But I feel like I’m just making excuses. I can’t figure out where the line is between self-compassion and letting myself off the hook for being irresponsible.
I shouldn’t have lost that stack of papers. I shouldn’t be so disorganized. My kids shouldn’t have to suffer because I did something stupid.
I’m even ashamed to share this, anonymously, with any blog readers out there – many of whom are also, of course, anonymous. How ridiculous is that?
I know there are tools I could be using to head this off. I’m sure if I re-read other posts or comments, I could probably reel myself back in. For some reason I just can’t tonight. I’m conceding defeat.
Inner critic – you win this round.