The day before Mardi Gras break, I received a phone call from my son’s school. The lady on the phone stated that the Pre-K students did not usually arrive at school early, that the parents usually came just in time for the parade. She continued to ask whether I would be attending the parade because the students usually got out earlier than the already early 11AM dismissal with no childcare…the Friday before we would be out of school for a week…
…the Friday I took time off so I could drop off my child with his float at before care so the float would not be damaged in a ride that would have otherwise taken place with 5 children…because I had to be at work before “before care” opens…
…After a season where the flu had been worse than ever so I missed a day of work for my son. I missed two days for my daughter. My husband missed the same.
…After I missed a day to stay home because my children’s school closed when they were afraid that the devastating hurricane that hit Houston was coming our direction. (My school was not closed.)
…After I missed a day when the thieves stole my car from my driveway.
…After I missed a day to go to court to get custody of my son…after I missed a day when my sister changed her mind…after I missed two days when I lost my sister to violence…after I took a day to go to Homecoming before knowing what life had in store.
Yet, here was the phone call, almost accusing me of not being a good mom, as though with all that life had going on, the least that I could do was find someone to watch my son parade…in his float, that I spent time making the night before…
…for which my husband had to drive across town to borrow a wagon from his sister to use in the parade…for a float that I made for him last year…and my other son the year before…that I will do for my daughter next year…
…because contrary to popular belief, 4-year olds do not make Mardi Gras floats out of wagons.
I cannot remember the last time I vacuumed my floor. I gave up on the laundry half way through yesterday. It is currently 10:54 PM, and I need to go to sleep. But God asked me to write so here I am.
I will get less than 6 hours of sleep tonight. I never get more than 7 hours of sleep during the school week. I am tired. My husband cooks. He gets the kids ready in the morning because I’m always running late…because I am trying not to drown…trying to get one more thing done before I am out the door.
I got to work after 6:55 eight times this year…mostly because I stopped at Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. My guess is that I clocked in between 6:58 and 7:00AM. I know because my administrator stopped to talk to me about my excessive tardiness. He asked if there was anything he could do.
I wanted to tell him he could come help make a float for the Mardi Gras parade or a train car out of a cardboard box for the Polar Express, check over homework, find the shoes for the three year old, fold a load of laundry to make sure we have uniform socks, pants, jumpers, and bloomers. He could sweep my floors or wipe my counters, brush a set of teeth, break up an argument over toothpaste. That way, maybe I could go to bed on time…still dreaming about the extra school work I had highly hoped I could get done at home.
Maybe he could learn what products work on extra curly hair and style my daughter’s crown while she attempts to go back to sleep on his lap, look for the shoes and backpacks that managed to leave their designated spaces sometime after I intentionally placed them neatly so I would know where they were in the morning. He could stop and pick up snacks on his way home because someone is snack buddy tomorrow. Maybe he could come wake me up early so I had extra time to really get everything off my to-do list and make sure that I do not miss those 3 minutes…the three minutes I more than make up for when I journey to my car at the back of a nearly empty parking lot at 5:00PM.
Or maybe…just maybe…he could call my son’s school, and tell her I was sorry, but I had no days left to take off for her Mardi Gras parade. I had already made provisions for someone to pick him up at 11. I already stayed up making his float that will pale in comparison to those dern stay at home moms.
But I just smiled. I said I would do better. I told myself, “You have just got to do better.”
When I took my hair out of my faux locs, I immediately fell in love.
Then I washed it, and I could not make it look that way again. So I did it again…and again…and again…until I found something that worked. I found a girl not the same but still beautiful to look at in the mirror.
I took a long look at myself. I looked at the mom in the mirror.
I ignored Michael Jackson as he taunted me, “If you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”
I snarled at him. I changed enough. Now was not the time to talk about change. Now was not the time to beat myself up for all the Mardi Gras parades I could not attend, floats and train cars that could not compare, work that never made it home, carpets that never saw vacuums, disappearing shoes, backpacks, keys, and rings. Now was not the time to discuss later nights or earlier mornings.
Instead, I began a different conversation with myself.
LOOK. JUST LOOK. LOOK AT THE MOM IN THE MIRROR.
You are beautiful.
Your are amazing.
You are smart.
You are loving.
You are strong.
You are doing it.
You are doing it all.
What you will not do is focus on all the things you are not. Now is not the time for that. And when you forget it, when you began to think of all the things you are not, all the things you need to change, go back to the mirror and start over.
Start over with the mom in the mirror.
You are beautiful. You are amazing. You are smart. You are loving. You are strong. You are kind. You are phenomenal. You are blessed. You are a ray of sunshine. You are a shining star. You are a survivor. You are a doing it. You are doing it all.
You are mom, and the world needs you to be the mom you are…AS IS.
What are some things that you say to the mom in the mirror?
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