This one's gonna be long and rambly. Sorry, Tom.
I had a rough Mommy week. Not a monumental, epic, change-the baby's-future kind of rough Mommy week. A teeny little things rough Mommy week. Haven't eaten, have food in front of me, but can't get to it because Lily is eating and I'm holding her on my lap and she's getting hummus everywhere and she's getting hummus all over me and I have to sing soon and I have to eat and there is no one around to hold the baby. Left the umbrella stroller in the car, only have the giant offroading stroller, need to get to rehearsal, have help getting stroller down stairs on this end but not up stairs on other end so I go to a station with an elevator fifteen blocks away from rehearsal planning to walk and when I get to the other end it's raining way too hard to walk that far and I am stuck stuck stuck with a cold wet baby in midtown Manhattan. House guests- I love having visitors, and these were very special visitors- but Lily can't sleep in her own room so she is grouchy and that makes me grouchy and she can't sleep so I can't sleep. Finally have a babysitter so I can run this errand, and I can't find the paperwork- errand cancelled. No clean towels because I can't get to the laundromat.
Oh. And doing it all while going through Lexapro withdrawal. Side effects include "brain shivers," (when my skull and brain feel unattached, so my head turns, and then my awareness turns later) ringing ears, and bursting into crying fits which may or may not be related to anything. But I am busy, I have responsibilities, so I will not cry.
Then, Friday morning. My sister and nephew were visiting, and we had a playdate scheduled with someone who I barely know but we didn't have anything planned and it's the park, so sure. We tried to get out the door in time. But with two toddlers each sleeping away from their own cozy beds and suitcases and toys everywhere, we ended up leaving the house when we were supposed to be arriving. I sent a text to my- friend? No, I really didn't know her very well- to let her know we would be late. What happened next can only be explained, I believe, with an annotated transcript (from memory, and cut-and paste texts) of the conversation that followed.
*moments after text is sent, phone rings, caller ID tells me it's Crazy (that's what we'll call her)
Me: Hi, Crazy!
Crazy: (literally screaming) OK, I don't mean to be a bitch, but do you hear that sound in the background? That's the sound of my five-month-old son screaming in the background because I woke him up early to meet you on time. (1) The last time we were supposed to meet, you were an hour and a half late picking up Lily, (2) and now this. I mean, are you seriously this flakey? Is this seriously who you are as a Mom?
Me: (week-long efforts to hold back tears no longer effective) Wow, Crazy. I cannot even believe how hurtful you are being right now. You know what? I'm gonna have Ryan drop that swing off to you tomorrow. (3) *hangs up
Text from Crazy moments later:
you have set a prescedent of being late. i woke a sleeping infant 2 get here on time. there r 2 of them and i 1 of me and i managed 2 be on time. annoying to say the least.
My text response:
Ryan will drop off your swing tomorrow. Please send your address. I wish you knew me well enough to make the judgements you made and it's unfortunate that it happened twice because that's actually not usual at all. But I don't really have room for someone to talk to me like that. I apologize that you had to wake the baby, I know his naps are valuable.
i dont have room 4 someone who will not respect my and my children's time.
Then, forty minutes later, a text announcing she was leaving.
(1) If he was screaming at the precise time we were supposed to meet, I'm not following how that part was my fault.
(2) She watched Lily for me once. She tried to call three times while I was teaching to see when I was leaving because she needed to put her son down for a nap.
2A- I didn't answer because... I... was... teaching.
2B- I had been uncertain about when I would be able to leave. I was "late" for the time determined in her head.
2C- Lily is the world's quietest, easiest baby. She has never, to my knowledge, stopped another baby from taking a nap, especially when she was an infant. If he needs to take a nap, put him down for a nap.
3- We were meeting primarily so I could return the jumper I borrowed.
Now. Some reactions, a day later.
I cried for the rest of the day. Since then I have had two people tell me in unsolicited, unrelated situations that I am a good Mom. I also had a student say something like "see, you make me feel better about life and my voice." Another student replied "yeah, that'll happen with Mindy." I believe these things to be true. Yet this is the moment I hold onto- the moment I became the victim of a bipolar episode. (I promise I would never throw this term around, it's something I know to be true about Crazy, she told me herself.) The thing is, I have people in my life who have bipolar disorder. They do not talk to me like that, and if they did, I would be willing to discuss it because I care about them. I feel no need to repair relationships with toxic people I hardly know.
In other news:
My sister and I took the kids (one 11 months, one 22 months) into the city via subway yesterday. Getting up and down those stairs was an interesting trick. Sometimes people offered to help. Sometimes people glared at us for taking too long.
My sister and nephew got on the airplane to go home. It was a turbulent flight. She had to keep him on her lap. Have you ever tried to hold a two-year-old still? Flight attendants and other passengers were yelling at her. She cried most of the flight. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my sister cry.
So. *trumpet fanfare* Here's my point. Being a parent is difficult in the best of circumstances. Sometimes we have less-than-pleasant moments in public. Babies cry. Toddlers throw tantrums. Mommies are late. Maybe even really late. I guarantee you this does not bother you one-tenth the amount that it bothers us. Further, I have never-ever- met a parent who was not doing his or her absolute best. Calling someone a flakey mother feels right up there with "dude, I just slept with your Mom" in the Never-Ever-OK-to-Say category. Rolling your eyes, staring in a judging way, making comments about a kid's behavior... Guess what. Not helping. So please. Keep it to yourself. Dig way down, locate that tiny little heart of yours, and give us a break.
Oh. And if you see us with a stroller in the subway station looking at the stares with bewilderment, don't wonder if we need help. We do. Don't wait til we ask. Just offer.
And don't forget. Mother's Day is just around the corner.