Remember that box I told you about last year? That pretty little tidy box I always try to present myself in?
Well, I’ve been working on breaking out of that box over the last year.
And this past week, I’m afraid, I took it a little too far.
I’m pretty sure I accidentally smashed the box to smithereens. Oops.
Let me take you play-by-play into my foray into frumpdom…
Our social worker and little misses’ guardian ad litem were visiting the house at 9:30 am this past Friday.
That morning, little miss AND Maddy woke up at 5:40. (Maddy gets such a kick out of getting up in the “middle of the night,” as she calls it.) If you don’t know this already, life before little miss never greeted me before 9 am every morning.
So, I woke up exhausted … And still dressed in the clothes I wore the day before that I happened to fall asleep in. I got the kids fed, bathed, dressed, and little miss back down for a nap. My bathroom floor was covered in dirty clothes, my living room floor was covered in neatly folded piles of clean clothes (thanks Mom!!), and my entry was covered in a little bit of everything.
With limited time left before the meeting, I had a choice… Make myself presentable… Or make my home presentable. Since I doubted that they would judge my parenting on how perfectly coiffed my hair was … I went with the house.
I actually felt proud of myself a little for not being too ashamed to meet someone sporting yesterday’s clothes (and makeup).
After the visit, it was time for another nap (oh, how I wished it was for me!). I layered on some new makeup over yesterday’s (so against everything I believe about skincare!) and put a few bobby pins in to keep the ponytail in. Then it was off to daycare for little miss (late, of course)… And to the doctor for Maddy.
(And here’s where things start to go downhill….)
I forgot they were doing vaccines. So… I am the brilliant mom who brought her kid in extra tired and extra hungry without any preemptive Tylenol. Not a good set up for shots, let me tell you.
The nurse had me hold Maddy down (who proceeded to knock me down twice — the girl is strong when she’s upset.) And before I can request help from another nurse, the lady just starts poking my kid. 4 times!! I have no idea how she got them in the way Maddy and I were struggling.
As soon as she popped the band-aids on, she left. But I had to deal with the aftermath. Maddy screamed into my face for a half-an-hour non-stop. Not in a “I didn’t get my way, so I’m throwing a fit” kinda way. This was a “I feel out of control and violated” kind of rage that brought me to tears. I held them back because I was trying my best to just speak calmly and soothing to her. But I hated seeing how betrayed she clearly felt.
A nurse finally came in to the room to try to help things along with promises of stickers and pencils. I think she was trying to help… But more I think she was just trying to get me out of the room so they could stop hearing the screaming, and maybe, just maybe, use that room for another patient.
The bribes didn’t work so well.
So another 15 min later I finally emerge holding my whimpering, traumatized kid who I wonder will ever forgive me for holding her down.
I promise her a trip to McDee’s for the shots… But she falls asleep on the way. I take her home, and choose sleep myself.
Soon it’s time to pick up little miss, so I take Maddy along so I can make good on my promise of pink-slime nuggets and fries.
We couldn’t find the Tylenol to give Maddy before we go. And searching for it makes me late to pick up little Miss, which the daycare again didn’t seem too happy about.
The missing Tylenol necessitates a trip to Walgreen’s. I’m still getting the hang of shopping with two kids. The Miss’s carseat doesn’t fit in the cart, so little miss is half-tilted to the side and back, which looks uncomfortable…but little miss seemed to think it was fun hanging sideways, half-way upside down.
Then I had to stop by the mall to pick up a birthday gift really quick. Of course, neither my stroller nor my Ergo were in the car, so with hands very full, we rush in and out as quick as we can. I kept trying not to stare at the cute moms with their Cadillac strollers, packed out like they were planning to summit Mt. Everest with baby in tow — not merely score a nice pair of skinny jeans.
Little miss is fussy, and I remember that her daycare won’t give her bottles until we have a Drs. note (ugh) so the poor girl is probably thirsty. But I forgot a bottle (of course.)
We get to McDee’s and I reach into the scant diaper bag I packed to discover that her baby food was still at the daycare and didn’t get packed back in. (Which wouldn’t have been a big deal if I had remembered to grab her regular diaper bag — notice a theme?)
Maddy still feels terrible, doesn’t eat her food, tells me to eat it, then goes off to play. Torn between fulfilling my obligation to Maddy to let her play, and wanting to make little miss more comfortable, I begin offering little miss the food I do have that she might eat …
Which is ketchup.
And since we’re trying to teach her to drink from a straw, I keep offering her my cup of half-sweetened tea, knowing full well she won’t drink any of it because she doesn’t understand the concept of a straw yet.
Meanwhile, I keep catching the sidelong glances from the other moms who clearly have it more together. Little miss is quite small for her age, and looks nothing like the 1-year-old she is. So I do realize for all they know, I’m feeding a 6-month-old ketchup and soda and eating my preschooler’s food.
And I realize that on any other day, I probably would BE the one casting the judgmental looks I am now on the full receiving end of.
Not that I ever MEAN to look at people that way, or think those thoughts… But isn’t it so true that sometimes they are out before you even realized you thought them?
So, on Friday… I was THAT mom. The one whose cute outfit (from yesterday) was crumpled and well hidden behind a frumpy fleece. Whose hair was slicked back … Not by fancy product or some fashion design … But by the oil slick I have to clean up every morning that practically requires a haz-mat suit. My roots loudly cried “get me to a salon,” and my eyebrows started to look like Frieda’s.
In fact, just to make myself feel somewhat better about the situation, I started referring to myself as Mrs. Frumpmeyer. (of course, not out loud.)
I certainly didn’t look or feel like Rachel Lewis, decent mom of two and skincare consultant.
There was a cute mom there, who had it all together (at least in that day) and every once in a while, I caught her eye and would smile. If I had been Rachel Lewis that day, I probably would have struck up a conversation. But something about this chic’s looks back to me resembled more pity than camaraderie. So I stayed silent.
Mrs. Frumpmeyer doesn’t make new friends with cute moms.
On the way home, I touch the back of my head… Only to realize that my pony tail holder must have snapped at some point. And my hair was so gross, that it actually stayed in place all on it’s own without a pony tail holder to be found. It was sticking up, and out, as though I had sprayed my hair with hairspray, and then stood face first into hurricane-force winds.
And it had looked that way for, how long???!!
I called Ryan and said as soon as I pulled into the garage, he was taking the kids. I beelined it to the bathroom, dimmed the lights, put on Miles Davis, warmed the shower, and mud-masked my face. I used every pampering product I had in my bathroom … Which is a lot.
For the grand-finale, I blew-dried my hair… Which I hadn’t done in a week.
It only took me about 30 min… But I couldn’t believe how much better I felt.
As I washed Mrs. Frumpmeyer down the drain, I wondered who she really was. Was she sone sort of sacrificial hero … Slaying her ego for the sake of her kids? Was she to be admired?
It would have been validating to think that.
But I really think that Mrs. Frumpmeyer had things a little backward. She gave, and gave, and gave, and gave… Without really ever giving to herself.
And that had her starting and finishing her day feeling frazzled and half-present… Instead of fulfilled and ready to take on the day.
I think Mrs. Frumpmeyer ignores a very real need. The need kids have for a confident mommy, comfortable in her own skin, who gives because she is full. Someone who takes time for herself, even if it’s just a little bit, so she feels more grounded and ready for the day. Someone who has met her own needs, so she can more readily meet their needs.
I’m NOT saying everyone needs to look like they’ve stepped out of a salon every day. Or even that they looked like they stepped out of a shower.
But I do think us moms need to find what helps us feel grounded, rested and ready to give. For me… That involves a shower, a cute outfit, a blow dryer and some foundation and bronzer at least.
For you, it might look like a cup of hot tea, a walk outside, a few pages in a good book, some worship music, a telephone call to a friend, a Biblestudy, or a few minutes on Facebook.
I’m sure Mrs. Frumpmeyer will be making an encore performance much sooner than I hope. But I hope to figure out the delicate balance between caring for myself, and caring for my family.
So… What do you do when you turn into Mrs. Frumpmeyer? How do you feel about her presence in your life?
P.S. Baby survived the ketchup incident, I’m happy to report. She got side-tracked on the slide, so we were able to extend Maddy’s play time a little. And she had a full bottle and some veggies right after getting home.