My husband calls in the late morning, “So, did you send the kids to school with moustaches?” Crap. Instantly, I feel like a failure. I had forgotten Moustache Day at school- this just-for-fun theme day that has never happened before but had to be scheduled the day before Christmas break, when there is nothing else going on. I was ashamed of, disappointed in, and disgusted with myself. The working parent remembered Moustache Day, but I didn’t. Isn’t this kind of minutia exactly why we decided I should stay at home? So that there was someone who’s JOB it was to answer all their questions, taxi them around, soothe fevers, keep us stocked with toilet paper, and draw facial hair on the second grader on December 20th? Arghhh!
I don’t think most mothers realize how fragile their mother egos are. (I didn’t include fathers because, in my experience, dads don’t carry around the same kind of guilt that mothers pack in with extra diapers and a clean set of drawers.) It seems that self-doubt and self-flagellation come with the territory. We all look at that parent who does that one thing better than we do, and instead of congratulating her on teaching her children complete sign language, in Portuguese, or instead of simply coveting her energy/patience/clean shirt, we do to ourselves what we would never do to our own kids. We look at ourselves and say, “Why can’t I be more like her? I must be [insert favorite pejorative descriptor: lazy, disorganized, not that smart, impatient, selfish, etc.]”
Well, I’m all of those things, and most days, I accept it. I also don’t have the mind of Carl Sagan or the bone structure of Gisele Bündchen, and that’s okay. Most days, I live comfortably with most of my shortcomings. My family is getting what they need from me. I’m doing okay. And then it happens- the little wisp of a breeze that topples the tissue house that ego built- Moustache Day.
I hung up the phone. The dust settled, and the wise part of my soul (she is very small) spoke up in her tired voice, “Get a grip. You got your kids to school on time, fed, with all their snow gear. They practiced their piano and got homework done. They went to bed at a decent hour. They are fine. You are fine. You covered the big stuff. Luckily, most kids forgive their parents’ mistakes, even the big ones. Lay off yourself and go make us some coffee.” And with that, my wispy mother ego was righted and there it will stand… until I forget snack day.