Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Evening (and Night, and Morning) Things Went Horribly Wrong

The other evening was the kind that in retrospect will probably be really, really funny, but at the time was a disaster of epic proportions.

To set the stage: I had a rehearsal at the church that night. Part one was for the people on the worship team that Sunday, part two was our weekly meeting with the choir to practice for our Christmas service. At the same time, I had Ethan with me, as I was going to drop him off at a nearby friend's house to play (and someone would drop him off at the church later around the time I was ready to leave).

4:55 p.m.: We leave home for what should be a 15-minute drive to the church. I knew there'd be traffic, which is why I wasn't surprised when...

5:15 p.m.: We make it a mile from our house and are sitting in a line of traffic just to get to the highway on ramp. Around then Ethan takes it upon himself to become the World's Most Efficient Backseat Driver, meaning he has to offer me advice about every seven seconds. "WHY are you in this lane, mama?!" This is punctuated by palm slaps to the head. "WHY is everyone going so slow? YOU should not be going this way. We're NEVER going to get there." Then tears, and repeat.

5:25 p.m.: We make it a half-mile down the road and are finally on the highway. Barely. I decide to text my friend to see if she can pick up Ethan at the church rather than me going the extra 10 minutes to their house. "Mama, state law is no texting in the car!" Ethan yells. "Ethan, we're not moving." "I don't care, it's the law," he retorts stoutly.

5:35 p.m.: Joy of joys, we get by the accident that caused this mess and start to move more quickly. I text people at the rehearsal to say I'm coming but will be late. "I have the music!" I add, referring to the copies of the five songs we're going to be doing, for the vocalists and musicians.

5:50 p.m.: We make it past the traffic and start flying. Just five minutes and we'll be at the church. My friend says she can get Ethan. All is well until I start to merge from I-291 to I-84 and see that traffic is at a dead stop. "No way," I mutter. I have just sat in traffic for an hour. I will be the master of my destiny, I tell myself. I will switch lanes and get onto 384 and get off a different exit in Manchester to find my way there.

6 p.m.: I remember why I hate driving in Manchester. I always get lost. I search in the dark for addresses so I can punch it into my Google maps and have my phone tell me how to find the church. The directions give me streets I don't recognize and certainly am not driving past. I keep driving. I have to find something familiar eventually, right? "Mama, WHAT are you doing?!" Ethan is yelling from the back. More tears. "I'm not going to make it there."

6:15 p.m.: The rehearsal started 15 minutes ago and I have everyone's chord sheets. I decide to call Dan to see if he can talk me down from my stress and maybe get me some directions, since I'm obviously clueless. I try to say my phone number into the Bluetooth, only Ethan keeps purposely talking to mess it up so it won't work. Finally, I lose it, "SHUT UP!" I yell. He immediately starts crying. Then I do. Creep. Hypocrite. Yelling at my child on my way to church practice. Real nice.

6:20 p.m.: By the sheer grace of God, I see a route I recognize and turn. I know where I am now. I apologize to Ethan, which he gracefully accepts, although his keep muttering incredulously, "But you said shut up!" I still feel awful. Another test, another temper lost. When will I ever learn??

6:25 p.m.: I deposit Ethan with my friend in the church parking lot, go inside and practically throw music at everyone. I then attempt to calm myself down and act like a grown-up. We sing songs that feel too high for me. Or maybe it's just that my voice isn't quite what I wish it would be. Whatever the case, I feel frustrated. I feel as if I'm trying, trying, trying and not getting things right. Not getting anything right.

9:30 p.m.: Our rehearsal part two, in the church basement, has run a half-hour late. Ethan was dropped off an hour before and I've had to talk to him 23 times about not making noise and distracting everyone. I feel bad. He should have been in bed long ago. He also apparently decided not to eat dinner at his friend's house. He's hungry and bored. People are tittering at his antics. I wonder who's wondering why my kid is such a brat.

9:40 p.m.: Rehearsal has wrapped up and I decide as a last-ditch effort to get Ethan something from the McDonalds across the street. He's barely eaten a thing since lunchtime. We wait in line for 15 minutes behind one car. Stellar mom, getting your kid nuggets and keeping him up this late, I think. Ethan cries because it's taking too long.

10:10 p.m.: It's a school night and my child is finally tucked into bed, his stomach full of grease. Our coming home wakes up Chloe, who has been battling a fever virus and not sleeping well. She starts crying and then settles herself but doesn't fall back asleep.

11:00 p.m.: I crawl into bed exhausted after talking with Dan, figuring Chloe's got to fall asleep eventually. I lay there wishing...I had a better voice, more confidence,  more self-control, more everything. Chloe keeps babbling. Her babbling is keeping me awake.

12:30 a.m.: I wonder how Chloe can still be up.

1:00 a.m.: I wonder how Chloe can still be up.

2 a.m.: I wonder how Chloe can still be up. I go downstairs and after a while fall asleep on the couch.

4:00 a.m.: I wake up and at first I hear silence. Then -- no -- I hear Chloe again. In a desperate move I decide to take her in the car to get her to fall asleep. We drive down the same road where I sat in a traffic jam 11 hours earlier. Of course, the roads are fantastically clear now, because we're the only people insane enough to be up.

5:30 a.m.: We're home after a drive that burned too much gas and resulted in Chloe almost falling asleep three times but never quite getting there. I realize my kids are going to be getting up soon for school. I realize I don't know when I'm going to get to sleep. I realize that sometimes, being a mom is really, really, really hard. There is a part of my brain that knows these are first-world problems, that is grateful THIS is what I'm upset about, that thinks about ISIS and refugees and all manner of horrible things happening in this world and knows that I need to be still. There is another part of me that just wants a banner to pop out of somewhere with confetti and someone to shout, "You are still awesome! And talented! And not a failure! And a good mom! And yeah, it's not fair sometimes. But don't give up!"

And then there's a part of me that's just really, really tired.

We go inside. I start to make lunches, because that's what moms do. The sun is coming up, and for a few seconds I manage to stop and notice: it truly is beautiful.

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