“Shit!” I forgot about the yearbook meeting again. Ugh.
Running out the door I grab my hat because, well, I haven’t showered in the past two days. I am starting to rethink the idea of working remotely as a freelancer. I only have meetings on Zoom with clients a couple times a week. Realizing that my laptop video picture is pretty fuzzy, I’ve decided that I can get away with not combing the back of my hair, or putting on makeup. At first I thought remote work was a boon. Now I go a couple of days without taking a shower.
Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider? But not now.
Now I have to go to a meeting with other mothers who I could care less about ever seeing. And about a yearbook that I stupidly say “yes” to helping due to the large amount of guilt I have felt about not volunteering at our daughter’s school this year. I had lots of time to spare, but I could not deal with the lack of connection I felt to all the other parents at my daughter’s school. I’ve tried for the past 4 years to be friends with other moms, but I feel like we are aliens, and have none of the same hobbies or life experiences.
OK. I’m probably wrong about this. If I tried harder to hang out, I’m sure I could find common ground with at least one other parent. I just can’t seem to get over the social “hump” of our initial interactions to make concerted effort at this point. Zoe is off to middle school next year. At this point, why give it any more energy?
I put my Prius in reverse and fly out of the driveway. A wave of guilt passes over me so strong that I feel my stomach sink. I haven’t walked the dog. Laundry is piling up. I’m juggling multiple projects which need attention. But I am too busy distracting myself with checking Facebook and Instagram accounts. I curse notifications pings as I speed to the school.
It’s been a rough couple of years. Between the sudden death of my mother, among other important people in my life passing without warning, and the strange but true work events that have taken place…I just haven’t been able to find my right side up. Every time I feel sorta like myself, the other shoe drops. I don’t remember this type of loss and turmoil happening at any other time of my life. But maybe this is what happens when you are 43 years old? Is this what getting old is really like?
After the yearbook meeting, I head to the grocery store. As I walk down the aisle looking for deals on “healthy” popcorn (I’ve been binge eating lately from stress) my phone starts vibrating. I grab it from my coat pocket and look at the comments my new client is making on the press releases I wrote for her. “Spell check next time”. “Incomplete”. “Not what I wanted. Whatsoever”. I put my phone away. This isn’t good. Right before I check out, I grab a bottle of red wine. Nothing goes better with a whole bag of cheddar popcorn than a nice Pinot Noir.
When I get home, I unload and put away the groceries. And proceed to open the wine right after. Commence dinner making drinking! Thankfully it’s a twist top. I praise modern technology.
As the water is boiling for pasta, I soon make an error in judgement. I allow myself to sit down on our couch for a minute. Just one minute. And then it hits. The sadness. The anxiety. The feeling of incompetence and lack of connection with other women. The tears just come. I cannot stop them this time.
As I sob on my couch, there is nothing nearby except my dog and a dish towel. The choice is obvious. As I dab my face with the towel, in walks my 11 year old. She’s about to tell me something, then stares at me with a quizzical look. She can’t register what scene she’s just walked into. I try to get it together, to hide my puffy eyes and red blotchy cheeks, but she is on to me.
Without a word, she scoots the dog off the couch. My daughter holds my hand gently and leans her shoulder into mine. She doesn’t ask what is wrong, or why I'm crying. She just sits next to me on our couch. After a couple minutes, Zoe hugs me, and tells me everything is going to be OK. That she loves me. Then she gets up, grabs a cheese stick from the refrigerator, and goes back to her bedroom.
Dinner is waiting. So I slowly rise of off the couch, grab my glass of wine, and carry on with food preparations. It’s not going to cook itself, right?
The dog scratches on the back door to be let out. My cell phone is vibrating again with more client comments. The last sip of wine goes down smooth and I get on with life.
At points in this journey called motherhood, you’re gonna break down. It’s not going to be pretty. But there will be someone in your life who will hold your hand and say they love you. Even when you’re a hot mess.
Krista Basis is a freelance writer and travel blogger living in Portland, OR.