Acting Out

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that I let my big people problems bull-doze over your little emotions.

I’m sorry I failed at the Mommy gig this morning.

I usually pride myself on being the Mary Poppins of the household.

When you’re sick I’m there with the “medicini fettucini,” hugs, kisses, and chapter after chapter of Harry Potter until my voice is hoarse.

When you’ve have a bad day I duck down to your level, look into your eyes, take two deep breaths with you (and let me tell you, Vince, that is a risk in itself- I refuse to believe you brush more than 3 teeth a day), and slowly, gently settle you from Hulk to Banner.

I’m the giggler and the singer; the grand master of the “cuddle-buggies” and expert of the blanket burrito; the messy baker and chef that dances around with the utensils; the one you cling to when you need the warmth, peace and joy of childhood.

But this morning I was less Te Fiti and more Te Ka (where are my Moana lovers??)

I saw that you were in “that” mood- the one where everything makes your eyes well up with tears- and I braced myself for a challenging morning.

I gave you ten extra minutes to get ready. I got your breakfast and your clothes for you. I packed your backpack.

I was handling this- I was sipping my coffee and loading the dishwasher and tossing apples into lunch bags and-

“Do I need a coat?”

“Yes.”

“But why?”

“Vince, it’s cold outside. Every day from now to April, please assume you need a coat unless I say otherwise.”

And there they were- the sniffles. And the tears. And the little scrunched up freckled nose.

“Vince, please get the coat and then give the dog a few cookies.”

“I can’t find it where is it I don’t know where it is!”

“Bottom cubby in your closet.”

“I can’t fit it…in my….backpack….it’s too big…” Tears streaming. Boogers threatening to pop.

“Wait…did you just…did YOU just give the dog her cookies?!”

“Yes, we need to go and you’re not ready-“

This is Tower to Cabin, we are cleared for meltdown. I repeat: we are cleared for meltdown.

“I was supposed to give them to her but because of this COAT I couldn’t!! I was supposed to! It was supposed to be my job!!!”

Deep breath. I’m Mary Poppins. I’m Mary Poppins. I’m Mary fucking Poppins.

“Vince, you can give her bedtime cookies. Please get in the car and strap yourself in.”

Deep breaths. Walk to the car, Ms. Poppins. You’ve got this. You’ve got this. You’ve….just walked outside to find your child leaning into the backseat like a drunken college student, sobbing over his backpack.

“Vince, what the hell-“

“It’s making my backpack too big and I can’t fit my backpack into the back seat! What am I supposed to do???!!!”

Mary Poppins has left the building.

I snapped. I couldn’t take another sniffle, another peek-a-boo booger, another exasperated sigh. I grabbed the backpack, tore the apparently toxic coat out of it, hurled it into the trunk, and slammed the door. I sat in the car, whirled around, and unleashed my Mom-Fail-Fury all over the place.

“There are things that matter, Vince, and things that don’t. Would you like to know what matters? There are children who are sleeping on the street with no coat, no shoes, and no blanket. There are people who are starving and scared. And here you are, living in a nice warm house, with your own room, with a huge bed with 17 blankets on it, plenty of food to eat, two parents and a sister who love you, and a dog, and a lizard, and friends and family, and what are you upset about? A COAT! You’re crying because your coat is too puffy?! There are things that matter, and THAT IS NOT ONE OF THEM! Do- You- Understand????”

I hated myself.

Even as the words were spewing out of me, I knew I was wrong. It did matter to you. That puffy coat and all the parts of your routine that it was ruining this morning- all of that mattered to you. Insignificant things rarely bother you without there being some deeper meaning. That puffy coat was the cover story for something bigger- something Mary Poppins would have patiently uncovered- but Awful Impatient Mom just bulldozed right over it.

You didn’t know that someone I love is very sick, and I was up all night praying for her. You didn’t know that I’ve been scared that my freelance gig- the one thing that gives me hope for a career that actually feeds my soul- might be lost to a stupid bill that some senator is trying to pass. You didn’t know that I’m battling a bladder infection, or that I can’t figure out how to afford everything that comes along with the holidays, or that I’m convinced if your father doesn’t start taking some time for himself he’s going to have a breakdown and I’m going to lose him.

You didn’t know any of it, but none of it is yours to know. It’s for me to hold, quietly, with one hand, while I hold your feelings and safety in the other.

And I took your feelings and hurled them into the trunk of my beat-up, suspiciously sticky, cereal-littered Kia.

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I failed at the mom gig today.

I know you saw me hating myself. I know you heard my sniffles, saw the tears quietly burning my cheeks, and witnessed the remorse in my eyes when I pulled up to the school, turned around and timidly choked out, “I love you very much, Buddy, and I hope you have a good day.”

“Love you too,” you mumbled, not even looking at me, and it was like you took everything I hurled at you and hurled it right back at me.

And I deserved it.

But I need you to know this- even Mary Poppins can’t be Mary Poppins all the time. I carry so much more than she could ever fit into that magical bag of hers.

I carry memories, hopes, dreams, fear, guilt, grocery lists, and immense love in my bag. I carry worries that I’m not giving every one of my friends and family members the amount of time and attention that they deserve. I carry determination to make your dad smile more often and breathe more easily. I carry plans for our next dinner and movie date, and for the special treat I’ll surprise your sister with on the way home today.

But sometimes, Vince, that bag, it becomes so heavy that I drop it. And shit goes flying everywhere.

I’m sorry I dropped the bag this morning. I promise that tonight it will be neatly put back together. I’ll give you cuddle-buggies and ask about your day and watch intently as you show off your new karate moves.

Please understand that sometimes, being the keeper of the bag can be overwhelming. I’m not always going to be able to balance it all- from time to time, I’m going to drop the bag.

So when I do, please be patient. Take a few deep breaths with me, let me settle from Te Ka to Te Fiti, and remember that the bag is only so crazy heavy because it’s filled with a lot of love- and vegan pie recipes.

And wear your friggin coat tomorrow, will ya?