I cried the other night.
Deep, wracking, heart-breaking sobs.
We were in the last week of play rehearsals before the show, the night before had been the dress rehearsal, which means I had been at school from 7 am to around 10:30 pm. Hockey had just wrapped up, so even though I wasn’t driving Monkey in the Middle to the rinks, I was driving Monkey Girl to the high school for her own rehearsals and the dance studio for classes and her job, and I was in the midst of grading research essays and we were recovering from birthday season and I, my friends, was tired.
Baby Monkey and I went to daycare to pick up Tiny and while we were putting on his coat, he said “Mama, how come I didn’t get to go in the room where we took our pictures with Santa?”
“What?” I asked, a little distracted as I fought with his zipper and tried to figure out what we would be having for dinner.
“Everyone got to go in the room where we had our picture taken with Santa and wear nice clothes, except me.”
And suddenly it made sense.
“Tiny…was today…picture day?”
He nodded at me sadly.
I zipped him up and walked back into the room where the children were playing and asked the teachers, “Did I miss picture day.”
They nodded at me and said that yes, I had missed picture day. They talked among themselves to see if the photographer would be coming back and then agreed that that day had been the last day the photographer would be there.
So, apparently, I hadn’t just missed picture day, I had missed the entire picture opportunity.
I hustled Tiny out into the hallway and as we walked out of the building, the tears began to fall down my face.
“Mom, are you crying?” Baby Monkey asked.
“Yes,” I whispered through gritted teeth.
“In the car,” I hissed.
When everyone was clipped in, Baby Monkey tried again.
“Why are you crying, Mom?”
And the dam broke loose and I began to sob.
Why was I crying?
Because I was drowning.
Because I am everything to everyone.
Because the weight of my choices is a heavy mantle to bear.
And, yes, they are choices, and not choices I regret, and they are mine.
I loved everything I was doing, but it was a lot and it was all converging at once.
But, I was tired and I was, for the moment, drowning.
I honestly didn’t remember seeing anything about picture day coming home, but it must have and I must have skimmed over it or thrown it away.
And so, rather than burden Baby with the truth of the matter, I said, through my tears, “I’m crying because I missed picture day for Tiny and there are no make-ups and now, for the rest of his life, I will never have a Pre-K picture for him like I have for the rest of you and it makes me so, so sad.”
Baby reached forward and put his hand on my shoulder and said “I’m really sorry to hear that, Mom.”
I drove home and I cried the entire way.
When we got there, Monkey in the Middle was sitting at the counter, doing his homework.
“What’s wrong?” he asked the second he saw my face.
Baby filled him in and then sat down to his own homework.
Except it was math homework, and they were word problems and he was sure he was going to fail before he even began, and so, soon, his own tears started.
As I tried to get him settled and calm him down, while still crying myself, because once it turns on, it is almost impossible for me to turn off, Tiny decided he wanted someone to play outside with him.
I tried to explain that we were all in the middle of something, and he would have to be patient, and his own tears began.
So, at this point, three of us were in tears. Big tears.
And, slowly, I see Monkey in the Middle stand up at the counter and start to put on his shoes.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Taking Tiny outside. I can’t concentrate right now and then you and Baby can get through his math,” and as he walked by, I saw tears on his own face.
“Are you crying?” I asked. “Why are YOU crying?”
He answered in a small voice. “Because you are all so sad.”
Which, of course, made me cry harder.
We made it through.
Monkey in the Middle took Tiny outside and Baby and I settled in and he got through the math.
Baby went out, MitM came in and got his homework done.
I stopped crying and got dinner on the table.
We made it through.
I made it through.
Why do I share this story?
Because I hear it all the time, “I don’t know how you do it all, Amy.”
The truth is, I do do it all.
And I truly enjoy everything that I do.
But, not without a price.
Things slip by.
I lose things.
And that’s okay.
But, the point is, it’s not easy, and just because I look like I have it all together doesn’t mean that I do.
And that’s okay, too.