I consider myself an organized person. At work, I pride myself for being able to dot my "i's" and cross my"t's". I enjoy scheduling meetings, gathering the team and keeping us on track. I don't miss deadlines. I come to meetings with notes. I read emails and reports ahead of time. Everyone comes to me when they need to find pens, paper, staplers because I organized our supply closet in my "spare" time. I have a handle on the budget. I know what paperwork to fill out to get reimbursed. I'm excited when the tough questions come my way. At work, people trust me, they rely on me and I know the ins and outs of the day-to-day. I'm there to coach. I'm there to support. I'm there to take care. I'm the work mom. It feels like a natural fit for me, because it's my personality and also because it's my other job.
It's too bad that, at home, when I'm at my "other job", I'm actually a little less put together. At work, I like to set things in motion and watch the wheels roll magically and productively, yet at home, I'm changing the tire while driving the car. I have a similar approach at home as I do at work but, oddly, the pieces just don't come together in the same smooth fashion. At home, it seems that no matter how much I plan or plot, schedule and strategize, I'm always behind the eight ball. In the office, I know what I need to do and when I need to do it. I know how to do it and usually, I do it pretty well. At home, I may know part of what I'm to do and I find out about what I was to do after it was already to be done. I guess how to do it and then I half ass it. Yes, I'm a good work mom but it's not because I'm a good home mom. At work, I have arrived as a professional. I'm confident and competent. At home, I still haven't found my way and my GPS isn't working. At home, I just can't get my shit together no matter How. Hard. I. Try.
And I try. I really, really do.All week long.
I pack snacks for during school and after school. I write checks for the School Lunch Fund. I pack mittens because it is cold and sneakers because it is PE day. I line the back packs up on the couch with the boots under them. The kids get on the bus. With sweat pouring down my back and a lop sided pony tail, I look like I just finished a marathon. As I get in the car and try to drink coffee without spilling it on me, I get the call: I forget the after school plan notes. GAH! I forgo blow drying my hair so I can deliver the notes and not be late for work. I give a sheepish smile to the secretary and slink away before the principal sees me and tells me I have to stay in for recess.
I manage to get Caro on the bus on time despite a meltdown over an unruly piece of hair. I pack a box of mac and cheese in Char's bag so her after-after school sitter can make her dinner before Daisy Scouts. I pack Caro's riding boots and gloves and jodhpurs for her riding lesson. I find her missing library book (6 months!) under her bed. At 3 pm, when I'm in work la la land, I get the call: I forgot to tell the after school program that Caro wasn't coming today and they are looking for her. Again. I apologize for forgetting. Again.
At 5 am, Char comes into my room and asks me what I baked for the bake sale. I said I didn't know I was to bake anything. She says a note came home last week. I tell her I never saw the note. She says it was in her bag. I tell her I never saw such a note. I post about it on Facebook and three moms write, and one dad, too, saying yes, it's the big bake sale and yes, a note came home last week as did an email from the PTA. Charlotte screams and runs up and down the hall, waking up Andy and Caro. Andy asks what is wrong, and Char tells him, and he asks me why I didn't know about the bake sale. I ask him why he didn't know about the bake sale. I'm late to work because I stop at the grocery store and pick up boxed cookies. That evening I find the note in her bookshelf, tucked into a book like a book mark.That evening I also check the school lunch accounts and see that, even though I send checks every week, Caro has a negative balance on her account. While the kids are in the tub, I email the lunch lady to ask why.
I get an email from Caro's OT teacher asking me if Caro is to wear her glasses all of the time or just at school because Caro tells her she only wears them at school. The teacher says she thought I told her the doctor said to wear them all of the time. I call the doctor and he confirms that, 11 months ago, he did tell me she is to wear them all of the time. Somehow I had instantaneously forgotten that really important piece of information yet managed to tell her OT teacher. I write sorry in italics, and include a sheepish face emoji in my email to the teacher. My bad! Later that day, a mom texts me and asks me if I understand the homework for the evening. I say I....(drum roll) didn't know there was homework for the night because I took the kids' word when I asked, before dinner, if anyone had homework. It is verging on bath and bedtime so I write a note and attach it to the homework "Sorry! We'll work on this tomorrow night!" (HA! If we're lucky, maybe...)The lunch lady writes back and says Caro has spent $12 per week on ice cream sandwiches in the a la carte line- averaging 2 per day. She tells me this is all accessible online, in the account I didn't know we had (like an a la carte line for elementary school kids!)and could check at our conveience.
It's Char's shining star week and, as the sun rises through the curtains, she stands by my bed and presses her face to mine and asks me if I can be her special guest at lunch (which is at 9:45 am or something like that). I tell her I can't because (I'm a horrible human being and awful excuse for a mother) I didn't know and I scheduled a Very Important Meeting at work at the same time. Then my Very Important Meeting at work cancels on me because I am, apparently, not Very Important and I feel so guilty. I try to make up for it by wearing matching shirts at the school's Dr. Seuss-themed reading night event that night. Andy got us Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts on Mancation and I'm thrilled to remember this would be the perfect event when we could finally show them off. After feeding them hotdogs and chips for dinner, the girls get their shirts on and I grab mine from the depths of my closet (because why would I ever, ever wear a Thing 1 or 2 shirt?) and throw it on. As I turn on the alarm and race to the door, Caro asks me why their shirts say Thing 1 and Thing 2 and my shirt says Bitch 1.
Whenever I get the kids' report cards, and I have to sign that I have read, and understood, the report, I feel like the assessment is as much about my ability as a parent as it is about the girls' scholastic abilities. I want to tell the teachers that I want the homework to be done, that I want to remember the bake sale, that I want to volunteer for the PTA, that I want to remember my kid is to wear her glasses all of the time and not bring stuffed animals to school. I want to remember how much it is for hot lunch every week and I mean to write the check every week so that I don't get those emails saying they have a $-45 balance in their account and I don't think it's ok to eat two ice cream sandwiches every day from the a la carte line. Really! Trust me! It's not my fault. I'm a really good person. I'm funny. People like to be around me. I'm pretty smart. I work hard. I keep a steady job. It's just at home, I have this problem. It's well....it's my shit. I can't keep it together. My parenting prowess is poo. We can't be good at everything right? I feel like I almost have it together, but not quite. I'm just not that good at managing myself and my kids. They come to school every day with shoes on their feet. (Yes, however, I'm sorry I let Caro wear a tank top in January. That was bad judgement.)And so far, they've always been picked up after school. Sure, they wear pj's on school spirit day and red, white, and blue, on come as your favorite animal day, but they won't remember any of this when they are older! And neither will I. As a matter of fact, I don't even remember it a day after it's happened because I'm already on to worrying about what I might forget next week.