I was sitting in unreasonable traffic that shouldn’t have been an issue at 2:40pm, feeling my anxiety rise with every minute of no progress. I was only fifteen minutes from my daughter’s preschool to pick her up, but traffic was going nowhere. It was in that moment, realizing I was going to be late picking up my daughter, that I let out a scream of frustration that was brewing since 7am. Why is today being a hot pile of garbage?
Earlier, I was ten minutes late dropping her off because I am a firm believer in getting every last possible minute out of my infant’s naptime that I can before having to wake her. Lunch was delayed because I spent ten minutes tearing the house apart, trying to find the pack of naan bread I thought I took out of the fridge. Fun fact: there was no bread. We’d finished it the night before when we made pizzas, yet for some reason, my brain told me that not only did it exist, but that it was waiting for me on the counter. I texted my husband: I’m having a frickin’ panic attack over bread. BREAD. I’m losing my mind. I’m going crazy.
You aren’t going crazy, he promised me. You’re tired, your body has been through a lot, and you’re a mom. It’s okay.
Health issues aside, you’re a mom was such a simple reason that holds a lot more validity than it suggests, because when traffic finally broke free, I made it to my daughter. The course of the day changed in a way I hadn’t anticipated. With great embarrassment, I walked through the door to her school and… opened my arms while she screamed for joy and launched herself into them. In that moment, my self-imposed pressure and lectures quieted as I felt her love wash over me like a warm, calming cleanse. The micro problems from the day didn’t matter; I was so hard on myself, but she, with her unbending compassion, gave me permission to not only forgive myself, but to hear a message she had been trying to send me all along. I might be doing this parent thing right.
So that day, I was Hot Mess Mom, and to be very truthful, I’m kind of a Hot Mess Mom in general. That day was not an abnormal occurrence, no matter how hard I try to make it so. I’m almost always 5 minutes behind, vastly underestimate how long it takes to motivate my toddler to get ready, and don’t allot enough time for my seven month old to explode out her diaper, resulting in a 96% rate of occurrence in the car seat. Snacks aren’t carefully crafted sandwiches shaped like stars, or grapes lined up to look like caterpillars. They’re usually leftovers from lunch that I have to spend a half hour convincing her to eat, and somewhere in this tiny home is a stuffed animal holding her water bottle hostage. No matter whatever schedule I try implementing to get this machine running smoothly, the unpredictability of toddlers and infants almost always circumvents it. I always have an excuse- traffic sucks, my car was buried under snow, some weird family incident- and they’re always true. But what’s also true is I don’t give enough time for those accidents to happen and still be where we need within punctuality, because where. is. the. time. I have taken the sacred vow of never disrupting nap time for the baby, and whenever someone snaps that she can just sleep in the car, I want to extend a formal invitation for them to join us from the hours of 9pm to 3am, where we can enjoy the serenity of screaming baby, followed by brunch with a cranky toddler who didn’t sleep because of it.
But on that day, as my daughter poured herself into my arms, I realized that I’m fine being a Hot Mess Mom. Because each day, my children are fed. I was not, when I was little. My children are warm and in their favorite clothes with all their favorite blankets. I never had that luxury. My toddler spends her days building puzzles with me, creating stories, and building a house in the bathroom with her stuffies, while my seven month old blissfully drags her body like a half-eaten zombie to wherever her sister goes. The best part, is my home is always filled with happy shrieks, tickle fights and forts, and I love you’s peppered with kisses. It’s filled with arguments and tantrums and apologies and compassion and lessons. My home is rich and nourished, and so are my kids.
I frequently lose my train of thought, have to run last minute errands, and have locked myself out of the house probably five times this year. Naan bread and bad traffic are out to get me, but I know that it doesn’t matter. Because I’m a damn good mom, and I have damn good kids. I’m fine with all the rest.