Sometimes I’m a great mom, times like yesterday morning and afternoon when I walked all over town taking Wanda to the park and the library for story time. Then every once in a while I snap and it’s not pretty. It’s not even homely. It’s bad.
We’ve been stressing out, maybe too much, about where Laylee would take ballet this year. She’s nine and she loves to dance and there are altogether too many things to consider when raising a kid. How do we encourage her passion for dance without pigeon-holing her and cutting her off from all other activities? How will she know if dance is the only activity she loves if it’s the first activity she’s ever kissed? How much is too much?
So, we decided to slow down from her dance school’s 4-hour per week class recommendation and move her to a school in the next town over that offers a slower road to pointe. It was a tough decision and I’m not sure if it’s right, but my head was exploding so I just cried Uncle and paid the registration fee.
But we’re both nervous to try a new place. Will she like it? Will they like us? Will she be challenged enough but still able to have a life outside of dance?
So yesterday, the first day at the new studio, she didn’t get off the bus at her stop. We had to search the bus and drag her out and she came off the bus late and sobbing. SOBBING. Apparently the book she was reading was way sadder than a book should ever be.
“And it just ends like that,” she sobbed, “That’s it. There’s no sequel. It can’t get happy because it’s just over. The end. This is a bad, bad book mom. It started out sad and then got as good as a book can possibly get and then got as bad as a book can possibly get.”
The characters were so real to her and she couldn’t handle the emotion and the betrayal. She was nearly inconsolable and, as an insanely easy crier, I was extremely proud. Her reaction showed compassion and sensitivity and, oh crap, we were gonna be late for our first day of ballet.
So, I drove her home, got her dressed, arranged her hair into a perfect ballet bun, (Doesn’t it feel like that should be spelled B-U-N-N-E?) and told her to grab her shoes. She’d worn her ballet shoes off and on all summer as she stretched and practiced.
“Grab them,” I said.
Blank stare, followed by grimace.
“Are they lost?”
“Look for them.”
Ten minutes later, she informed me that they were really, for real, very truly lost and… oh well.
And. Then. I. Snapped.
She lost her shoes and I lost it. It was nowhere to be found.
We had 2 minutes until we needed to be in the car driving if we wanted to be on time and I started tearing around her room, searching. And she just stared at me. As soon as I was on the case, she gave up. And I lost it a little more.
With her standing there watching, I dumped out her drawers, and her laundry basket and all the one thousand little purses full of nothing that were stashed all over her room. It turned into a full-on tantrum. The shoes! The SHOES! Where were the ever-loving SHOOOOOES! I yanked all the bedding and books and stuffed animals and reading lights and grocery items and 4th grade necessities from her bed while she bawled her eyes out.
I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t calm down.
And I was horrified with myself for acting like a bratty toddler.
But it was like I was outside myself looking in and thinking, STOP, but I couldn’t.
We left shoeless and we still can’t find them. I knew she was devestated on the drive, but still I lectured her. She went to her first class crying.
I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I was doing something and I could tell it made someone feel small and I did it anyway. I hate those times. I want to yank them from the record and start fresh.
But my apology can’t erase this one, the time I forgot who I was because… shoes. Laylee will remember this. She may talk about it at family reunions or tell her kids. I hope that when she does, she will add in the part about how I apologized and maybe how she learned that being a grown-up doesn’t mean being perfect. It means putting the room back together better than it was before while talking about our lives and giving periodic hugs. Being a grown-up means knowing when you’re wrong, feeling utterly crappy about it, fixing it as best you can and doing better.