I woke this morning from an oppressive and terrible dream. In my dream I was running some sort of event for mobs of children. One of the girls had forgotten her pin number to get a lunch from the cafeteria. So I was in the cafeteria, begging an uncooperative lunch lady to give this girl a lunch, and the lunch lady was hassling me and stalling and being unpleasant, while I worried about all the other children in the group whom I wasn’t attending to. (Really, I love the lunch ladies!)
Finally, I got the girl her lunch, plus a lunch of my own, and sat down by some sort of railing to eat. But as I looked over the railing to the crowd of children milling around below me, I saw Jesse, far away, beyond the reach of my voice, sitting alone on the ground. Screaming. I had neglected him while I helped the other girl.
I jumped up and screamed for the people below to bring me Jesse. Logan appeared and handed Jesse over the railing.
And that’s when I woke up. Full of dread and disappointment and the feeling that I couldn’t possibly meet the needs of all the people depending on me.
A few minutes later, I shook off the feelings of doom and got up to the face the morning. We had scripture study. Today is Haley’s birthday, and I gave Haley one of her presents so she could wear new clothes to school. I served breakfast. I played the special Haley playlist of tunes I compiled yesterday in her honor. The kids and I decorated the Christmas tree that Mark and I set up last night. I supervised three kids’ reading. I signed planners. I helped Levi make his lunch. I did a million things right.
Then, because it’s a blizzard outside, I sent the kids to the van to get buckled for the ride to school. But when I went out to the garage they were all just standing there. The van was locked. And my keys were inside. I put the keys there on purpose: the van’s safe in the garage and I’m just going to need those keys again. No spare. No luck.
And this is the moment when my feelings of inadequacy and failure came crashing down. On me, and on the kids. “Get your coats on,” I told them. “You’re going to have to walk to school.” Sour faces. Groans. But no one moves to get a coat. They just stand there, in a blizzard, wearing hoodies. “GET YOUR COATS!” I scream.
And now the biggest problem my family has is not the blizzard or the keys or the tardy bell. It’s me.
Finally the kids are bundled up, none too happy, but too afraid of psycho-mommy to grumble. “Just walk,” I keep saying, “It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. Just walk. It’ll be okay.”
And off they went.
I hate mentioning times when I feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and overextended. Because I’m afraid someone will jump in and suggest that I have too many children and too many Church responsibilities. Which isn’t entirely wrong. And also is entirely unhelpful.
Actually, this kind of thing occasionally happens to everyone, right? But when it happens to me, I feel I’ve tripped and fallen into the mud. And that all the things I’ve done right, all the appointments I’ve remembered, all the times I responded with patience--are null and void.
Evening update: The above needs to be tied into some neat little package of message and moral, doesn’t it? And I’ve had some ideas about that today. Which maybe I’ll share later. And for certain, tomorrow I’ll tell you about all the lovely things we did for the lovely birthday of our lovely Haley.