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It's the moms of the world who make family go ‘round.
Last Monday I had a full day scheduled. Not on purpose mind you. It was one of those times when things just started stacking quicker than I realized, all on the same day, and I wasn't able to get a hold of the situation and move things around in time.
We had four dentist appointments, and a lacrosse game with no time to get home and eat dinner beforehand, so going out was the only option unless we wanted to eat around 8 at night. If you have kids who play sports, I know you feel my pain—you either eat dinner at 3:30 pm or right before bedtime. That's just what you sign up for.
The plan was, I'd pick up all three of my kids early from school so we could make it to their dentist appointments. From there, we would hit the drive-thru where we had exactly a half hour to shove some salty carbohydrates and grease into our mouth before getting my daughter to her lacrosse game.
We would make it home at the very decent hour of 8 pm, and have time to pack lunches, shower, and get homework done for the next school day.
That seemed to be the easy part: I had it all planned and felt in control. The hard part would be preparing for this evening of events. I knew I'd be exhausted after busting my butt all day to get all the things done in a very short amount of time, knowing when I got home with my three teens, I'd have no energy left after bossing them around to get their homework done and clean their bodies so they could get to bed on time.
We made it to the dentist one minute early, and I gave myself a pat on the back as I reached for a magazine and planted my bottom on the leather sofa. At last, a moment of peace.
Yes, I'm at the point in my life where four of us getting our teeth scraped and cleaned can almost be counted as meditation since you have no choice but to stay put through all the cleanings. You get to sit in a comfortable chair and lose yourself in magazines that you have no time to read otherwise.
But alas, just as I was flipping through to get updated on the Royal Wedding, The Royal Baby and what the latest flip flop trends would be this summer, the secretary slid her glass door open and gave me the look.
You know what I mean, the look another mother gives you before they tell you something they know is going to ruin you because they've been there a time or four.
"Your appointment is next week," she said. "I know. I'm so, so sorry."
"What! Next week? But I got it all done. I was on fire today. I was even on time."
'I know," she repeated.
Then, as my ducts started to well up with tears, I'm pretty sure she closed her eyes for a few seconds in hopes to ease the blow. I could tell she, too, had done this. And me arriving on the wrong day made her think back to when she'd screwed up. It was making her feel sorry for me and validated all at the same time. It was as if we were taking a moment of silence together.
I wanted to throw the magazine (and myself) on the floor. I want to shout a big, "Nooooo."
No relaxing for an hour and a half in a quiet dentist office for me. No feeling like I'd nailed it. My organization skills and memory were fading away with each passing day.
As we piled into the car, all I wanted to do was hit that fast food joint and cry into a burger and oversized fry. My oldest chimed in with "what's the big deal, Mom? Why are you so upset? This is a small thing." Not only was he right (kind of), he sounded exactly like someone I know. That someone is me.
I'm constantly telling my teens to not sweat the small stuff. I preach about how if it won't matter in a few weeks, it shouldn't feel like such a to-do now. I tell them to embrace the moment, and mistakes are how you learn.
Yet here I was in tears because I arrived at the dentist office a week early.
But as far as I'm concerned, moms have right to lose it in a time like this. We run such a tight ship, try so hard not to forget things and keep it all straight for our family, that when we do mess up, it's not only frustrating, we have to plan and rush around even harder to make up for the mistake.
No one does it for us. No one comes along and says, "I'll do the planning and making sure everyone has what they need today. You just give that pretty, little mind a rest." Nope, it all us, all the time, and we know it.
So when we miss a dentist appointment, or arrive at the school concert on the wrong night, we feel deflated immediately. It takes work for us to show up and to get our kids to look halfway decent.
We watch our partners sit back and simply get in the car when it's time to go after we've given them the rundown. We are the ones who make the appointments, make sure our kids have nice pants for the concert and that they pack more than a bag of chips and a cheese stick in their lunch.
It's the moms of the world who make family go ‘round. The moms force the kids to do the things they don't want to do.
And when we have a day that falls apart because we forgot something, it feels like we are lugging a hippo around for a while.
That's why we cry when we miss an appointment or forget to show up at the salon when it's our turn to have our hair done. Our behind-the-scenes work is enough to keep us from making an adequate grocery list because our minds are buzzing with the next thing we have to get done.
So, that afternoon we went home. I relaxed on the sofa under the blanket and told my kids to make their own dinner, then we headed to the game where I shared my stories with fellow moms.
One by one they came forward with their experiences like “Oh, I did that last week, it ruined my whole day.” And, “I cried the last time we missed an appointment and no one in my family knew what was wrong with me.”
Yes, me lying on the sofa to gather myself after that episode was dramatic, but I deserved it. After all, the next day was just as crazy and I needed my energy. And since I didn't get to rest at the dentist office, I was determined to fit it in somehow lest I screw up tomorrow, too.
Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine and is a full-time freelance writer. She's writes about all things parenting, food, and fashion.