Imagine a frazzled mom. Let's say, for illustrative purposes, the mom is me. Here are a few of the things that may have led to her frazzled state on this particular day, a Tuesday. A Nathan Contest Tuesday:
- birthday party planning for three kids. Three birthdays in one month is frazzling
- fundraiser money due for Scouts, along with reminder emails sent out to parents about this because they are also frazzled
- the deadline for pictures to be returned to son's school was that morning, and frazzled mom forgot it so she must make a trip to return them because the cost of keeping those pictures would require a lien on the house
- also forgotten in the morning, the weekly envelope that needs to be signed and returned to daughter's school or daughter will be given detention (which is so unfair. It's not her fault her mom is frazzled), so an extra trip to this school is also required
- ceremony agenda for Scouts needs to be typed up, because they must show off their skits next week
- regular social civilities need to be maintained, or frazzled mom will alienate friends and family
- bills need to be paid, house cleaned, dinner made, or frazzled husband may make frazzled comments and this would lead to non-arguing which is extremely frazzling and highly annoying
- trip to the post office needs to be made, because frazzled mom doesn't trust mailboxes to deliver bills
- library books are due. On this frazzled day. And that is what led to the brainless move.
I was happily finishing all of these tasks, proud of my industrious day. Sure, I hadn't managed to blog yet, or post to the Nathan Contest, but after lunch I wrote some, blogged some, and all was well. I only had two errands left: the post office and the library, which I had purposefully left for last because of the perfect commute loop created with picking up my daughter. So I loaded the boys in the car, swung by the post office, wrote out the checks in the car (because I'm frazzled, remember, so nothing is done ahead), and tossed the bills into the drive-by mailbox (despite my better instincts. I've had negative experiences with drop-boxes in the past, BUT, it's raining and I have three kids in the car. This is extremely difficult for me, I just want everyone to appreciate that). Then I tossed the checkbook on the passenger seat, picked up my daughter from a rainy-day schedule (think long lines of frazzled parents with umbrellas. And Southern Californians aren't used to the rain so the parking lot is a mess). Finally, only one errand left. The library.
I always go into the library to return books. Firstly, because I love the library, and secondly, because as you know the drop-off seems risky to me. The first and only time I used it, the library workers reshelved my books without checking them in and I had to argue with them that I had returned them. Ever since, I go into the library and ask that they please scan the books, right there in front of me (in a nice, "Are these overdue?" way, of course). But it was raining. And I have a two year old with a yucky cough. Plus the four-year old fell asleep. And the eight-year-old is hungry and tired from afternoon learning. And I did it for the bills. So again, against my better instincts, I pulled up to the drop-off, ran around the front of my car in the ever-increasing rain, opened the passenger side door, and began unloading the books that were piled high on the seat. Some of you sharp-eyed readers may already know the mistake I'm about to make... the boneheaded, braindead move I made as I hurried to get those books out of my car, but in my defense it was very rainy and Southern Californians aren't used to the rain. So here it is. Somehow, in that pile of library books, the checkbook had gotten mixed in. I watched it slide down into the giant metal receptacle with mine-own-eyes.
Really? I really have to take my coughing baby and sleeping preschooler and hungry second grader into the library to figure this out? Yes. I acknowledge the brainless stupidity of what I'd done. And here's what happened next:
1. There is no parking. None.
2. The eight-year-old declares she has to go bathroom. Bad. The rainy-day lunch schedule threw her off and she forgot to go at lunch. I told you Southern Californians are no good in the rain.
3. The two-year-old starts screeching. He does this when he's aggravated, especially when strapped into something like a carseat. It's loud and it hurts and makes frazzled parents want to turn around and go ape-crazy on the kid. But I don't. It's not his fault he's been stuck in a carseat for almost the entire day.
4. When parking opens up it's at the across-the-street lot. That's okay, I'm grateful. Eight-year-old is now frantic and I'm imagining a trip to the doctor and urinary tract infections and feel like an official Bad Mom.
5. At last we're in the library. I shake out the Dora the Explorer umbrella (the daughter hates this thing, but it still works so why waste it?) and rush the kids into the bathroom. The two-year-old now has a runny nose to match his yucky cough. Bad Mom to the second-degree.
6. The four-year-old refuses to try to go bathroom. Waking him from a car ride nap is always a recipe for disaster, and his scowl is fierce. He's not prone to accidents so I decide not to push it.
7. The librarian takes in our dripping, coughing, scowling appearance. She tells us to please wait in line. She doesn't smile.
8. We wait in line. It's not long, but the eight-year-old has to periodically state that she is S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G. When we're next, the four-year-old announces that he has to go to the bathroom. I tell him to hold it.
9. I explain to unsmiley librarian that I have actually thrown my checkbook into the book drop receptacle outside. I tell her how stupid I feel, and by the way she starts shaking her head at me I can tell she agrees. She crosses her arms and everything! I feel like she's the principal or a severe, condescending justice of the peace. Above the noise of my four-year-old insisting to be taken to the bathroom, my daughter's declarations of hunger, and my two-year-old's congested screeching, the librarian asks me, "Why did you do that? (Dummy!) I'm very busy!" She didn't say "dummy", but it felt like she did, and the deflated balloon that was my spirit shrivels to the size of a piece of chewed up gum. I now feel like a moronic idiot. Rather than answer her inspired question, I ask her if she can help me. She cannot. There is no one else to work the counter. I look behind me. There is no one in line, but I suppose she has a job to do.
10. The crusty old library lady begins organizing books and I ask her when another library worker will begin a shift, and she says there are already other library workers in the library, helping patrons find their books. In fact, one appears a second later and I ask, "Can she help me?" The librarian doesn't answer, but she rolls her eyes (for reals) and disappears into the back. The four-year-old, who has been yelling at me for some time that it's not good for his private to hold his pee-pee marches off to the bathroom without me. I chase after him and the librarian comes out with a set of keys. I apologize and tell her I need one teensy second. She shakes her head again and turns her back to me, and a small part of me almost let's him have an accident all over her floor.
11. Out of the bathroom at last, the nice library worker girl takes me and my grumpy kids outside and we recover my checkbook. She's kind, and says that things like that happen all the time.
12. I walk my wet kids across the street to the car and decide they deserve hot chocolate. From the drive-through Starbucks. Mommy's had a long day.