Ignore the Mom behind the curtain

I know that I could be accused of painting rosy pictures of life. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Facebook effect, where it seems like all your Facebook friends are immaculately put together, live in perfect houses, go on great adventures, and generally live a life far more awesome than your own. This is because all of us edit our narratives. We want to share the exciting/flattering bits, and tend to downplay the mundane/embarrassing ones. (And if we don’t, unless we are FANTASTIC writers who could make imaginary dialogues between deodorants hilarious – looking at you here Amalah – our readership is quite limited.)

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I know my blog is like that. All the fun stuff, all the picturesque stuff, all the deep thinking, and none of the “I’m a complete mess”. But guess what… sometimes? I’m a complete mess.

Let’s begin our story when our heroine left work 15 minutes late because she was in a not-fun meeting. (As opposed to a fun meeting, which happens roughly never.) So. Late. Rainy night. I check my text message alert, and it’s riiiiight on the borderline between freeway or back roads.* I call to see if it’s changed, and I find out that it got really bad on the freeway, so I opt for my backroad commute. Tick tock, tick tock, the daycare clock!

Did I mention my husband has been in Florida for a week, and although due back will not be in time to pick up the kids? No, I didn’t because I never let teh intarwebs know these kind of things in advance, just in case. But Adam was in Florida, so there was no calling him if I didn’t make it on time (which is my usual backup).

Then, just as I had fully committed to the backroads route and there was no turning back… whammo. Traffic stopped moving. Like, one or two cars a light. There’s never a backup here!?! Five minutes, I didn’t sweat. But then it turned to ten, fifteen, twenty. When I had 15 minutes to do 30 – 45 minutes of commuting, I panicked. I called all my parent friends (including those I should have known were like, you know, in Dallas.. hoping he was kidding when he told me who I was interrupting…) asking if anyone could pick up my kids. Of course, it’s extra complicated because who wanders around with two extra car seats? No one! In fact, almost none of my friends has a car that can seat two extra kids never mind car seats. And it was raining, hard! And super dark! Yay! Fun! Finally, I reached one friend (actually there at that moment picking up her kids) and we cobbled together a plan that involved her taking my kids to my neighbor’s house and then returning to the center for her own. I gave my permission over the phone to the daycare people to release my kids almost as I was passing the accident.

Phew. Can I say this? Three years ago, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I don’t know how I got this lucky, but I have awesome friends who have my back and are there for me when I need them, and I am SO GRATEFUL. I may be alone while my husband’s gone, but I’m not unsupported.

Anyway, so I come home. I park my car. I put my backpack inside, and head down the payment full of adrenalin and frustration to my neighbor’s house to retrieve my children. And just as my sidewalk joins my neighbors, I stepped on a rock wrong, and went down HARD.

I had one of those moments that stretched very long. I was on the ground, rain falling poetically onto my face, right leg obviously badly scratched up, but truly wondering if I had just popped the graft on my left leg, and I would have to do this fantastic surgery all over again. With the rush of pain and adrenalin and fear, I couldn’t tell how bad my left leg was. I could tell I’d done something non-zero, but was it epic? Was it a pull? Was it just the persistent tendon tightness we’re fighting at PT and nothing wrong at all? I had to wait, on the ground, for several very long minutes to find out. I’m extremely happy to report that based on knee function and subsequent pain, it is nothing serious. However, I’m deeply saddened to report that my absolute favorite pair of tights that are incredibly comfortable have come to the end of their lives. Also, I did a number on my shoe. Finally, I also scratched up my good leg (but I care less because eh! It’s only a flesh wound!)

Are you getting tired of pictures of my leg injuries?
Are you getting tired of pictures of my leg injuries?

I picked myself back up and continued down. Things improved. I walked in on my neighbors feeding my children. They very generously put a plate out for me too. I sat at the table and watched my children rough-housing and being rude and periodically yelling things at them like, “No throwing Christmas ornaments at the dog!” and I was just so very very grateful that I wasn’t alone.

Then I came home, and put them to bed over an hour early, because oh. Those children. Based on the fact they both went to sleep, I think they must have been tired. Then I had to do worky work for an hour. Now I’m writing an unflattering blog post about my own incompetence.

So what about you? Have you ever had a day like this – falling far short of tragic but definitely rising to the level of highest annoyance?

* This is super helpful, so let me share. Navteq allows you to set up a commute and a schedule. Then every day you set up, it texts you a numerical value of how your commute is. I have mine set to check the route at 4:45. So every work day at 4:45 I get a text message with a number. Through experience I know that at 2 or over, I’m better off taking back roads. Additionally, in the text message, you can call a number at any point and ask how your commute is now and they’ll give you the latest conditions. I would pay for this service, but I get it for free. It’s fantastic for those of us with highly variable commutes.

The archtype of the holiday

As my eldest son enters into the age of memory, I often wonder what he will recall in his adulthood, and what parts of our life will slip into the background of memory. Periodically, I hope he won’t remember some things — the times I lose my temper or fail to listen. But oh, I hope he remembers this Halloween. More, I hope that forever after, when he thinks of Halloween the imprint on his imagination will be from this Halloween. It was perfect. I can’t imagine a better one.

This is joy
This is joy

Halloween morning started wonderfully. It was an unusually warm and seasonable day, with fast-moving clouds and downright balmy temperatures. While his father and brother slept, Grey and I wandered around our neighborhood, chasing a wind-driven balloon through crunching autumn leaves and chatting with neighbors.
Eating to keep up their strength
Eating to keep up their strength

Once the eldest and youngest boys were up, we went to the Middlesex Fells Reservation to go on a hike. We hiked through the autumnal forest, stopping for a snack to reward our efforts, and finally (just past the Doleful Pond) found the playground. The boys laughed with joy on the swings, chased each other through the grass and showed great bravery at the slides.
Swings!
Swings!

Slide!
Slide!

We went home for lunch and I got a massage. Ok, maybe that wasn’t part of THEIR great day but it was part of MINE.

I made cookies in the kitchen, and when the time came, we woke both boys up from their naps, poured them into their costumes, put a bowl of candy on the front stoop, and headed to our neighbor’s house. We’re completely lucky to have really neat neighbors, with kids that all line up. There’s three boys in the older generation, and then three babies — Thane is the oldest of the babies. The older boys played with sounds that made it seem like at least two of them were in the processes of being killed, Thane bopped between groups, and the littler babies focussed their energies on looking adorable. The grownups had conversation and shared tips and discussed the goings-on of our neighborhood and our busy schedules. Candy was doled out.

The kids miraculously all together
The kids miraculously all together

Fast clouds crossed the full moon in the warm autumn night air when the boys headed out for their trick-or-treating. The swirl of leaves flickered across the warm glow of jack-o-lanterns and porch lights. As a group, they braved doorbells and held out bags and buckets to receive their chocolatey loot. They returned triumphant from their quests, and generous in their plenty — sharing the fine fruits of their labors with hungry parents. The littlest boy went to bed, and all the babies, and then those grownups of us left got together and played Rock Band while our older sons (can you believe it?) entertained themselves without injury in another room.

When we finally put our chocolate-smudged eldest child into his bed, he was happy to find sleep beneath his nightlights.

What joy, my friends. What joy.