It was a Chick-fil-A for dinner kind of day.
You know those days. Those days when the kids have back to back evening activities, sometimes maybe even doublebooked so you have to decide which one to attend–the first basketball practice of the season or tae kwon doe or scouts (basketball won) and you run through the drive-thru in between because even if you had put a meal in the crockpot at the beginning of this crazy day nobody has time to actually sit down and eat it.
This particular crazy evening started with a 4:30 ballet class.
My daughter gets off the bus at 4:05, and the ballet school is about 8 minutes from our house, so it’s always a mad dash from the bus to the house, a quick snack, strip down to the skivvies, pull on tights and the leotard, twist and pin hair into the requisite bun, find the ballet shoes, and off we go.
We have yet to make it on time.
And in case you are wondering, in that entire scenario, the hardest part is finding the ballet shoes.
Usually I take the time before my daughter gets home to have everything laid out, so the entire production can take place in the kitchen (yes, I dress my kid in my kitchen—wanna fight?) while she’s eating a snack, or at least trying to take bites in between me stripping clothes off of her. She’s become a master of eating celery with peanut butter on it while I brush her hair into a bun, and I feel an odd sense of maternal triumph that she no longer cries when I get to a tangle.
(What can I say, my mother made me tough it out as she brushed, I expect nothing less from my daughter. Hairdressers routinely comment how unperturbed I am when having my hair brushed. This makes me feel strangely proud of my hard head. It’s the little things in life, people.)
But today, I’d had a busy day of my own. I got home only moments before my first child walked in the door, and didn’t have a chance to dig out the ballet stuff before I went and fetched my daughter from the bus stop. I gave her the required snack, then dashed around the house, trying to locate her leotard, tights, and those ding dang ballet shoes.
It didn’t take me long to find the leotard and tights, but the shoes, oh, the shoes. I looked in the closet, I looked in the car, I looked in her ballet bag, and I searched her room. All the while I grew more and more agitated trying to dig up those stupid shoes.
At one point, I decided to take a break to get my daughter’s hair done, figuring that if all else failed, she could wear her too small shoes (which, naturally, were folded perfectly together in plain sight in the closet). While I was braiding and twisting and pinning, the dog farted. It’s a sign of my stress that when my daughter started laughing and fake snorting at the canine flatulence, I snapped at her to be quiet and hold still.
Because it’s not about the shoes.
I’ve tried to explain this to my husband. When I can’t find something for my kids, it makes me unreasonably anxious, because it’s not about simply having lost something. It’s a sign of my overall failure as a mother.
See, a GOOD mother would have all the ballet stuff together in a designated space, perhaps a drawer or a closet shelf or a bag. It wouldn’t take over 20 minutes to get the child ready for ballet because everything would be coordinated in one smooth movement.
Good mothers don’t have to go hunting for shoes in the dark pit that is my daughter’s room, which right now is a virtual sea of clothes, books, artwork, markers, toys, and other various bits of plastic that are unidentifiable yet inexplicably priceless to my 6 year old.
Good mothers have daughters who have clean rooms and sparkling furniture, not rooms with walls that still bear the marks of a child’s “creativity” when she was three and smuggled the nail polish into her room to “decorate” her door.
Good mothers don’t lose shoes. Or their tempers. Or, for that matter, have farting dogs.
It’s an imaginary person I’m batting at, I know. It’s an imaginary judgement, I know. Every mother I know has had to hunt for shoes, it’s part of the world of parenthood.
But still, every time I pull out three shoes from the closet and none of them match, I feel like a slipped one notch down on the good mother ladder. Because there IS a good mother ladder somewhere. SOMEBODY is keeping score, doncha know. I’m not sure who, and I’m not sure how, and I’m not sure when this invisible competition will come to an end, but IT IS VERY VERY REAL IN MY OWN CRAZY HEAD.
And don’t even get me started on clean socks.
Tonight, after I picked up my daughter from ballet (and yes, I finally found the shoes buried under some pile of detritus in her room. We were ten minutes late to ballet class.), I drove her and my son to my son’s basketball practice. I had put clothes in the car for my daughter to change into, so she wouldn’t have to hang out in the gym in ballet clothes. I even had some slip on shoes for her to wear over her tights.
She refused to wear her clothes, preferring to skip from the car, twirling in her ballet skirt, but did put on the shoes.
We lost them in the gym, and left without them.
I hope whoever finds them doesn’t judge me too harshly.