Did you ever have one of those mornings where, despite your best intentions, you screwed up and you are guilt-ridden the rest of the day? I recently had a day like that. It all started with a 90-minute school delay. I actually like a school delay on occasion; it gives both me and my kids a chance to catch up on some much-needed sleep -- especially my little night owl. Last week brought an overwhelmingly large amount of homework for my fifth grader and she had been working diligently to finish it each night. Unfortunately, she also had her concert rehearsals and her brother's hockey practices to sit through, so her evenings had been unusually late. On this morning after receiving the delay notification, I sneaked into her room, turned off her alarm, and closed her door. She managed to sleep until 9:00 a.m.! She would have an hour before having to get on the bus. What a leisurely morning we would enjoy. Or so I thought.
I let her watch TV while she ate her breakfast and I went to post to my blog and return a phone call. From my window, I saw my neighbor's daughters heading to the bus stop. I thought maybe they wanted to get there early so they could play in the fresh snow. But knowing their mother, they were not going to be playing in the snow before school, they were going to the bus stop as the bus was arriving so they wouldn't have to spend time out in the cold. Here comes my "oh sh*t!" moment...
I hung up on my friend and dashed into the kitchen. I told my daughter rather quickly and loudly that I did my math wrong (nothing new there) and I miscalculated when the bus was coming. It was coming RIGHT NOW! I took her homework and shoved it into her backpack while she threw on her boots and grabbed her coat. She was still chewing as we dashed into the car. "I'm going to have such a stomachache from this!" she whined. "Me too," I thought.
I attempted to catch the eye of our bus driver as he was making the turnaround in our cul-de-sac. As I sped down the driveway, I was also skidding around on the freshly fallen snow. I leaned on my horn the whole way down the driveway in an attempt to get his attention (I'm sure every neighbor heard me). To my dismay, he wasn't driving the bus -- of all days to have a substitute!! This driver stopped momentarily as I skid to a stop inches from my neighbor's lawn, but then went on to the next bus stop. My daughter was upset. "She has to stop the bus!" she was screaming. I laid on my horn all the way to the next stop. I yelled to my daughter to get out and run to get on with the neighbor. She said she couldn't get out of the car because her backpack wasn't on and the dog was in the way (whole other story, but my dog loves to go in the car, even if it's just to skid down the driveway with the crazy lady in her pajamas). Now comes the Worst Mom Award nomination moment: I yelled, "Get out of the car and run to the bus!" Ugh.
Needless to say, she got on the bus, walked to the back and sat down. I could see her so I waved and smiled as if we had both run a marathon and crossed the finish line together. But that's obviously not how she felt. I pushed her kicking and screaming across that line. We were not in it together.
So would it have been a big deal if she missed the bus? No. Not at all. I could have driven her to school. I could have let her finish her breakfast, put her homework in her backpack, kiss the dog goodbye and sing along to the radio for the three-mile drive. Beating myself up about it doesn't help, but that's what I do. It's my form of re-evaluating my parenting skills. How I felt looking at her sit down in her seat on the bus, stressed and pissed off, will act as a reminder the next time my math skills fail me and we are running behind. When she gets home in the afternoon, all will be forgotten. She rarely holds a grudge, which is a wonderful quality she possesses. She will swing the door open and yell as she does at the end of every school day, "Mom, I'm home!" in her sing-song voice and rattle off something funny/crazy/unbelievable that happened that day.
And even though she won't mention the morning "incident," I will apologize to her. I want her to know that moms make mistakes and get caught up in the moment. But more importantly, moms should also know that when you do something wrong, you take responsibility for the action. I can't rewind time and change my reaction, but I can store it away for next time and respond differently. And if all else fails, I'll add a dollar to the co-pay jar and see her in therapy when she's 20.