When you lose your sh**.

Excuse me, I seem to have lost my sh**. Have you seen it anywhere?

I’m guessing the three wooden engine boxes my husband stuffed in the boot of my car could be classified as casualties? Yesterday, I hurled them clean across the driveway, praying they’d shatter. They did not. And this disastrous outcome kicked my grown-ass tantrum into a whole new orbit. Indignant, I slammed the car door, cranked the tunes and gunned it to Safeway. Because, doesn’t everybody decide to go grocery shopping in the midst of losing their sh**?

By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I had done little to calm myself down. I decided to just go with it and let the voice in my head have top billing at this pitiful sideshow.

Damn those kids.
Damn the constant, bloody mess in the house.
Damn the folded laundry, still sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
Damn the clusterf*** dishwasher that’s never emptied.
Who are the assholes that fill it up with pots? 
F*** the chronic lollygagging of the pandemic.
F*** my period that no longer shows up in a timely fashion.
F*** the four jars of empty peanut butter in the pantry. 
F*** the dog who refuses a walk unless it’s me!
F*** me for procrastinating on the school supplies.
AND … F*** me for not having the foresight to realize I don’t have the patience to be at home 24/7!

It was then that I started to sob. I had crossed into frightening territory some ten minutes earlier, screeching at the top of my lungs to the ungrateful hoodlums — I mean precious children — that take up residence in our humble abode.  I was still shaking from the volume I’d been able to drum up. Here is a friendlier version of my meltdown: 

“I am done catering to you people! Get off your duffs! Get off your devices, NOW! I want a list of all the ways you’ll be contributing to this household, and you’re gonna present it to me in the next ten minutes!  MOVE!! MOVE!!! MOVE!!!!”

Sh** lost. Shrapnel all over the place. But I couldn’t tell if that volcanic eruption ought to be deemed a relief? Like, I just needed to release some pent-up steam? Or was it actually more a warning sign… and peeps best be taking cover for the REALLY BIG BLOW UP. Be ready, be very ready.  

Look, I know I’m not the first to lose her sh**. 

But what I hate the most, is (a) admitting that I reverted to my six-year old self (b) knowing my eldest took me on a fishing expedition and I instantly fell for her bait and (c) realizing my kids have seen me lose complete control. I’m sure they wondered what in the Sam H-E-L-L was happening while their mother yanked these unfamiliar crates from the car and launched them into our hedge. Note: if you’re wondering why said engine boxes were in my car, that’s another triggering story involving my husband, some ideas he has, his obsession with picking up random things, storing them in our garage and “one day” upcycling them.

Here’s the deal. My social working friends have informed me that kids don’t feel safe when parents become dysregulated. (Excellent. Mine will be in therapy for years!) So what am I going to do about this sh** that I seem to have lost? 

I’ve decided my only course of action is to forgive myself.

That’s right, I’m conjuring up some good ol’ fashioned mercy on this middle-aged Mama. She doesn’t deserve to beat herself up any more than she already does. Because it takes time to transition from one world to the next. And this one has had a decent amount of weirdness to stickhandle. 

My old world was regulated, controlled, and stuffed to the brim with structure. I’d leave the house at 8:30 and get home circa 6:30 or later. I’d walk through the door feeling depleted from the grind, but grateful to be back in my safe haven of comfort. HOME. There’d be a wiggling bum waiting to greet me (please know this is the sheepdog, and not my hubby). The kids would seem reasonably pleased at my arrival and may even get off their devices long enough to come give me a hug. But if I’m being honest, even back then I belly-ached about the same overriding theme.

And that would be, never enough hours in the day to complete all the competing priorities, or at best to execute them above the bar of half-ass. To combat this, I used to employ the strategy of squeezing seven minutes out of every five whenever I could. (That got me nowhere but a reputation for always being late, so don’t get any good ideas here!) 

But this new world is a definite contrast, over which the pandemic has layered a cutesy little twist. Read: horrifying, annoying, get these dang kids back to some sort of routine. STAT! There’s been zero structure. Only chaos, and confusion. As much as I try to plan my day, there’s no getting around the blurred lines of home and work life when your office is in a bedroom. The constant niggling of all the things left undone in the house scratch at my desire to be that GOOD MOM. That GOOD WIFE. 

It’s not that I’m trying to emulate perfection. More, that I aim to please. And I see this renaissance of motherhood as a wonderful opportunity for me to serve. To really be there for my kids. Granted, they’re not wee ones anymore. At 12 and 17, they’re completely self-sufficient-ish. But I’m aware the clock is ticking. One day these sweet girls will have flown the nest. That day is coming soon, and part of my goal in starting over was to try and strike a balance so I could participate more fully in their young lives. While I can. 

It seems, though, that I haven’t been functioning optimally under these current conditions. I’ve been feeling inadequate as a mom when I need to focus on my new business. And sucky as an entrepreneur, when I settle into the worry that my 12-year old is entering hermit-like status. (She’s barely ventured out of her room this summer.)

I need to be better. To try and level up. The corporate world and I have had a divorce and this IS my new reality. I’m open to all suggestions! So many of us are facing these same blurred lines, where working from home can SOUND like a dream, at first. And then I wonder why I can’t be more like those *other people*, who seem to be THRIVING at home. With commuting shelved, they’ve got the freed up time to sit in peace. To just chill with a ham sandwich on their back deck in between all that Zooming.  

To end this tale of sh** losing, there’s one other thing I lost yesterday. I realized it only after heading into the grocery store, and mid reaching for the laundry detergent. It occurred to me that I didn’t have my wallet.

I may have stomped my feet in the center of Aisle 4. REALLY? 

Today is a new day. 

So I’m starting with a clean slate. It’s the girls’ first day back to school. It was with mixed emotions I sent them off. Where have the years gone? My eldest finishes high school and my baby has entered middle school. And while I can’t change yesterday’s shenanigans, I can try to be a little kinder to myself. The rogue engine boxes have been neatly stored in the garage for “some day” and looking around, it seems I’ve got most of my sh** together. I’ve a roof over my head. People that love me. My good health.

And… six hours without interruptions!

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