Hey, it’s me. Remember me? The one who accidentally brought peanut cookies to the holiday party, nearly killing two of your students? You were on it like a flash, though, snatching the cookies out from their hungry little hands just before they reached their lips. You even had an alternative snack squirreled away in your desk, which you gave them right after you helped me get my hyperventilation under control.
I’m writing you this letter because I feel like I need to explain a few things. There are so many mornings that I want to pin a note to my daughter and go into some detail as to why she has jelly on her face, or why her shirt smells like Bigfoot’s dick. But if I had enough time in the morning to write a note, her face and clothing wouldn’t be attracting flies in your classroom, so here goes:
Let me think of a good way to put this, one that won’t compel you to call the authorities.
I haven’t always been such a flaming hot mess. In fact, there was a time in my life when I was actually put together. When people didn’t always look at me with one eyebrow raised or try to drop loose change into my coffee cup as I waited on the curb for the school bus in my robe and mismatched slippers.
I made a much better mom before I had children. I saw those poor kids in the grocery store with their hair sprayed out like peacock feathers and wondered how could their parents let that happen? Combing is a two-step process: wet hair, comb, enjoy.
Getting myself and three smaller, more emotionally unstable versions of myself out the door every morning is a like an episode of The Sopranos. There is raw emotion. There is swearing. There is bloodshed. Then my Spanx are finally over my lower abdomen, and I go deal with the kids.
I start strong, shooting for the stars as I delicately recommend the matching outfit I laid out the night before, the outfit we all agreed to. But every single pair of pants that is not in the bottom of the dirty laundry under the festering, moldy wet towels produces insufferable wedgies. Shirts that were fine last week have tags that feel like rusty syringes. Suddenly the clock hits fast-forward, and I realize that we are all still naked and have thrown ourselves onto the floor in a pile of wailing sobs. And also everyone’s shoes are outside—in the rain.
“Are you at least wearing underwear?” I scream over my shoulder as we sprint out the door, late as usual. “You need a healthy barrier between your butt and the rest of the world, just in case things go south.” I count it as a win that she ate breakfast in the car. The jelly on her cheek and shirt she dug out of the dirty laundry become inconsequential to our third tardy.
“Hey, when you told me to brush my teeth, did you mean with toothpaste?” she asks as she slams the van door shut and runs into school.
And what kills me is that I know this is all a reflection on me. I’m the overwhelmed, disorganized mom. I can only imagine what you think goes on around here. I’ve seen her with her friends at birthday parties, on the playground, at field trips, and I know it’s only a fraction of what kind of party she brings into your classroom.
Things can get crazy around here, but please believe me when I tell you that we don’t have fart competitions, and we certainly don’t raise our legs like a dog peeing on a hydrant when we let one rip. We don’t double dip, we don’t call each other “toilet diaper poop” when we’re mad, and we don’t wipe our boogers on just any old thing.
Our family has never once sat around the dinner table shoving pretzel sticks up our noses yelling, “Look! I’m a walrus!” and then eaten the pretzel.
Contrary to what she may tell you, I am feeding her. My children consider vegetables a preemptive strike, and they take it very personally when I have the audacity to serve broccoli.
So what I’m getting at, in a roundabout way, is thank you. Thank you for not judging me. Thank you for having my back. Thank you for telling me it happens all the time when I brought the peanut cookies. Thank you for reminding my daughter that tissues are our friend. Thank you for making sure she has a drink at lunch when I forget to pack one. And thank you—I notice the jelly is gone when she comes home.
I promise you, despite what you see, I am trying my best. I may be an overwhelmed mom, but one of these days we’ll all get it together. And every morning when I drop her off I take a deep breath and tell myself the same thing as when I plop my feet into the stirrups of my gynecologist’s office: This may be bad, but I’m sure you’ve seen worse.