“What do you mean you can’t find your sweatshirt?! The bus will be here in 3 minutes! Get upstairs and FIND it!” She raked her fingers back through her curly hair, catching on knots and adding frizz to the already tangled mess brought on by the humid dawn. The sun wasn’t even completely over the horizon, and she’d already been hunkered down, searching and crawling around looking for lost things for an hour. Shoes. Socks. Homework. Backpacks. The more she looked, the hotter the anger and frustration bubbled up.

It’s the same fight and struggle of every mother: put your crap away. pick up after yourself. wash up. no food in your bed! pick up your crap. PICK UP YOUR CRAP. Only this morning, as she lifts the edge of the couch and peer under, the go-gurt wrappers, Legos, socks, missing church shoes (WHERE were these yesterday?!) papers, scissors, remote controls, an iPod, and a some missing keys greet her. There is yelling. She is not proud, and the missing sweatshirt is not found, and the boy gets on the bus without a kiss goodbye, while the younger ones run for their flashing, waiting bus down the street. She stands at the curb, arms crossed, in her pajamas, feeling the sting of stereotype and fighting back hot swirling tears of frustration and regret. She hates starting the day this way. She wishes this was the first time.

Life is swirling around her, eddying at her ankles, pulling the sand out from under her feet in a constant tug, leaving her dizzy and unsure where to step next. She had imagined this quarter off of school would be a respite, a way to catch her breath and remember who she was before grad school started. Instead, the old tripe about nature abhorring a vacuum was daily illustrated in technicolor, and she couldn’t seem to get a grip, let alone ahead.

The weeks were flying by; there were IEP’s (yes, more of them), scouts, interviews, test prep, tutoring, snarls with the DMV, a fender-bender, doctor appointments for the kids, procurement of records, snafus with the bank, denial of EBT benefits, appeals, callings, lessons, back to school night, parent-teacher conferences with the non-IEP kids and on and on it rolled. She had another interview to set up, and two tests to take, but couldn’t find a place giving them in the window she needed. It might mean travel, and that would mean more nightmares. And the holidays were starting to swell before her and she knew when she turned around, the wave would crash in a heave of chaos.

She watches the giant ochre busses groan and roll down the street, and waves feebly at the dark reflecting windows in which she sees not her children, but the reflection of the morning sky. She hopes they can see her, and that for today, it’s good enough.

12 thoughts on “Powerless

  1. Gosh…I know this too…

    Thank you for voicing so many parts of my own story. You have an amazing talent and I appreciate that you share it so freely.

  2. I am so sorry for the bad morning and piling up of life’s annoyances and challenges. I am not a morning person, so much so that my husband had the job of getting the kids off to school the past two years while I hid so that I didn’t end up nagging and yelling and generally making everything unpleasant for everyone, so I really sympathize with the morning thing. This year he was called to be the seminary teacher, which meant I needed to suck it up and do the morning routine. One thing that has REALLY helped me is getting a hanging shoe rack for each of my kids’ closets. On Sunday evening I/we choose clothes for each day of the week and put them in the shoe rack sections. And there are a few open slots at the bottom for church shoes, soccer cleats, etc so there is a place for them to go so they are not floating around the house. (Not that my kids routinely put them where they belong, but there is a specific place where they actually do belong). Somehow this has made mornings so much less stressful. There is one less set of decisions for me/my kids to make and negotiate, and it has made a real difference. Don’t know if it would help your family, but just thought I’d share. Blessings.

  3. I know those mornings. Really, I do. We usually have echos of, “If you don’t hurry up, you won’t have time to eat breakfast!” and “Stop arguing and just BRUSH YOUR TEETH!” as well ;-). It’s hard enough with my husband and me both herding the kids through the morning routine but now that we are a coast-to-coast commuting family … it’s a whole new adjustment. I feel like we are just now finding a groove and it is October. Maintaining my composure in the mornings as the only adult has been my biggest adjustment.

    I like when you talk IEPs in your posts, as I can relate to that too. My older daughter is a resolved-apraxic and has inattentive subtype ADHD (and is a great kid!) and we too jump through the IEP hoops on our end as well.

    Tomorrow will be better!

  4. Ahh, the familiar strains are singing. Only our time is night time, bed time, as the chaos ensues – trying to get the kids in bed (and to stay there), making sure lunches are made and bags are backed…because the bus arrives at 7:30, and there is no way for night time chaos to happen in the morning.
    Hang in there. I can’t say there is an end…I don’t believe it. But each and every day we survive. You are surviving…
    Love you!

  5. Survival comes in a variety of ways. I believe the most important of which is just getting up in the morning and doing the daily grind once again…

    Be patient. Be flexible. Be kind – to your kids *and* to yourself. Wallow or blog for a bit, then pick up those boot straps and forge ahead.

    Even when you’re feeling powerless, you are still my heroine!

  6. Tracy, I’m on the other side of Motherhood now. I had so many days like the one describe here — replete with IEPs for child #2. I wish I had words that would be magic and comforting and bring you peace. it’s a journey that you have to go straight through. I know that it feels like you will live the rest of your life this way, but the honest-to-goodness truth is: things will change and you will not be here forever. That’s the honest grace of it all.
    The thing is, that I found, going through that has given me the tools and experience to assist other, younger moms as they are now experiencing it.
    I’m sorry about the EBT thing — go back again and fight it. There is more than one right answer. Think about every scenario that you have that could be a loophole for them to approve you.
    When I went through this, I had a difficult time praying for myself — just feeling so alone. So, i asked my friends and family to pray for me until I could pray for myself. What you need the most is peace — that it will all work out the way it should, and deep down inside, you know it will — you just need to convince yourself. Sometimes the hardest thing.
    You’re not alone! Thank you for sharing your life with us! We’re praying for you ; )


  7. I, too, have this except it is bedtime. I have 4 very small children and a husband who is working full time and then going to school in the evening for his Masters, as well (MBA). His days are overflowing and overwhelming and I don’t see him except Sundays. I feel like I yell far more than I should and I feel like I can never get a hold on everything that has to happen every night. It literally swallows me sometimes but I loved reading this and knowing I am not alone.
    Like Anne Shirley says, “Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it.”

  8. Been there-done that only 7 times over (including working fulltime and going back to school. I survived, so did my kids and I am glad that part of motherhood is over! Hang tough…you can do it and with pizazz!

  9. Wow Tracy. That was…. stunning. I have been in and out of the same boat for the past 10 years, but am making some big shifts as I grow and change with God. For me, the most vital thing I have done to change the situation is to actually allow myself to feel powerless and out of control instead of frantically trying to avoid those emotions. As I sit in that emotion, I talk to God. What I have found is that underneath those emotions, our Heavenly Mother has things to teach us about what her definition of mothering is. Until we are willing to be honest about the fact that our paradigms of mothering aren’t Hers, then our pride keeps us from being taught higher ways, and our ways will never bring true happiness. We will continue to experience pain until we understand and practice higher ways of being–this is how God’s universe is designed.

    You are an extremely talented writer. Can’t wait to hear more.

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