Do-Over

In honor of Ground Hog's Day and Bill Murray and inspired by Sarah's very perfect text message.

Do you ever wish that you could have a do-over? There are just so very many occasions that I've said or done something and pretty much instantly wished that I could turn back time and try that one again. I'd like to have a winter do-over.

After my last post I received several emails, texts and calls of concern and support. Thanks for caring and for the Valium, alcohol and vacation suggestions, all equally tantalizing and much more feasible than a good night's rest.

This past Wednesday I was on the phone with my mom, setting a date for her to watch the girls so Andy and I can go on a much needed, two-night mini-vacation. We were chatting about the places I've been researching for the last few weeks-affordable and relaxing vacation spots within a four-hour drive. I told her I'd ignored Andy's urging to return to Lake Placid and John Brown's house, where we've visited many times, and instead, had my heart set on Niagara Falls. She was encouraging me to book a hotel on the Canadian side when I heard Andy call my name. Charlotte was playing on the floor and whining to be picked up. Caroline was standing next to me, scratching her head. She'd been scratching it periodically for the last few days but I'd blown it off as dry skin.

"Hey- Melissa. Melissa. Do you think we should check her head for bugs?"

BUGS. "Mom, I have to go. Andy thinks Caroline has bugs. I'll call you back." And me, being the silly newbie parent that I am, I called the pediatric clinic, which should be on our speed dial, and asked them the big, stupid question, "How do I know if my kid has lice?"

The nurse started simply. "Tip her head over and look." I'm a smart girl and am not sure why I doubted my ability to determine if my kid had bugs in her hair. It took about 12 seconds to stare at Caroline's lovely golden locks and see little blacks things moving in her hair. We jumped into action. We stripped her down, Andy ran to the store and bought lice shampoo. Then, while he washed her hair and proceeded to comb out every strand, I bagged up all of her toys and stripped all fabrics and started, you guessed it, a million loads of laundry.

By the end of the night we were exhausted, the laundry piled up all around us, and feeling a little dirty. Hey, at least we caught it when we did and solved the problem. We ended the night tiredly debating whether or not to tell the daycare provider.

We did. Three days later and Caroline is officially bored and traumatized. She can't go to school, she has a lopsided bob, courtesy of moi, and is so sick of having her hair picked that she works herself into a dry heaving tizzy. Andy and I are at each other, wishing the other could make the problem go away and we have both had the razor in hand ready to fully eradicate the issue.

Did I mention that I leave on Monday for a 5-day, stress-filled work trip with 30 college students and my boss? Did I mention that I haven't really weaned Charlotte and have no idea how either of us is going to manage without the other? Did I mention that Andy was already stressed about me leaving and is now terrified to be left as the sole parent at the germ compound?

I feel like I'm trying to be all things to all people. I'm trying to be the best mom. I'm trying to prove myself to be a hard-working, reliable, smart and innovative employee. And I feel like I'm just screwing it all up. Why didn't I notice her itching her head? Why haven't I weaned the baby? How many more sick days can I take before my boss loses faith in me?

Like a volcano, my emotions and worries have been bubbling below the surface as my thick exterior kept it all in. Until today when Mount Melissa erupted. Just after hanging up the phone with the pediatric nurse, and learning that it can take three weeks to rid of lice, my boss stopped in my office to greet me. And I lost it. I couldn't even say hello to her. I erupted into a big heap of sobs and tears. Later in the day, during a staff meeting, I felt my head get light and my chest tightened and I knew I was having my first panic attack.

Life could be worse and this makes me feel worse. My kid doesn't have cancer. I have a good job. Andy is amazingly helpful and hands-on with the kids. He'd pick the nits out with his teeth if that's what would get the job done. So, why do I feel so bad? I feel like I'm trying to take care of everyone and have forgotten to take care of myself. Was today's volcanic eruption just a precursor to the "big one"?

Can I get a do-over? Things would be so much better if I could start again. I'd manage my time better, I'd be more aggressive about weaning. I wouldn't eat that container of ice cream. I'd look at Caroline's head the very first time she scratched.

Thank god for small miracles- and wine. I got home tonight, drank a glass of Chardonnay and told myself, "I can do this." We started the nit picking again. Around 8pm, it was time for Charlotte to go to bed. I brought her to her room, read her a story and plopped her on the ground to do a head check. While I was inspecting her, she pulled herself up on her bookshelf, turned her teeny little body my way, let go of the bookshelf and toddled three steps into my arms. A perfect, no need to do-over moment reminded me that, while I do not always understand, everything happens for a reason.

We'll look back at this and laugh- someday, but for now, I'm just glad that tomorrow is a new day.

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