Y’all didn’t pray hard enough for me.
Two days ago, I sat on my couch and penned my first post here. For those of you who missed it, I basically whined for two pages about how much I hate Tuesdays - the day my children transition from their dad’s house back to my home, Camp Chaos, as we’ve lovingly labeled it. Well, here we are, 36 hours later, and boy do I have a recap for you.
Pick-up began like any other Tuesday. Usually opting for casual and “easy” dinners these nights to help cut down on the stress, I had my rotisserie chicken and fresh Italian bread packed in the trunk of my maroon Honda CR-V and a package of Peanut M&Ms for them to split, and a Three Musketeers to help me cope with the emotional rollercoaster I was about to buckle in for.
Switching from teacher to Mom Mode can require some prep work on my part. So I scarfed down the chocolate and found some good #AndyGrammer tunes to pump through my speakers. The three of us like jamming out to his stuff - it’s so positive, upbeat, and damn catchy. And IT'S CLEAN! I don’t have to explain the finer concepts of life, like bumping and grinding, or why a milkshake brings all the boys to her yard to my nine and ten-year-olds with his stuff. Instead, we end up pumped, smiling, and feeling slightly better about ourselves and our days.
With my headspace marginally improved and “Damn It Feels Good To Be Me” bumping, I pulled into His driveway and beeped the horn twice. I plastered a smile on my face, and for shits and giggles, decided I’d record today’s transition. Hell, if I’m blogging, I should probably have some actual footage to show. How very wrong I was.
“I had a horrible Sunday and I don’t want to talk about it!” yelled Christian as he opened his door and climbed in.
“Why are you recording us?” questioned Avery.
“I will THROW this lunchbox at your face if you’re recording me,” C said, his black Adidas lunchbox clutched tightly in his hand above his head, waiting for the smallest cue from me to send it flying forward.
Well, we’re off to a damn good start.
I managed to get Christian to agree to divulge his news to me later, privately. I’ve found, over the years, that despite my children being only 16 months apart, they both value their privacy and ability to have individual conversations with just me - without the input, snarky comments, and/or unsolicited advice from their sibling.
Avery, thankfully, had a “great start to the week!” Phew, maybe I stand a chance tonight.
“Mom, can you switch this song? I don’t like this one,” C asked.
“Well, what are you going to do if he plays this tomorrow night, bud?” Confused looks crept across their faces. “Tomorrow. If he plays it.”
Nada - they weren’t picking up what I was putting down.
“We are going to see Andy Grammer tomorrow night in Boston. Your first concert!”
Now, I can’t speak for all moms, but I know I have this freaking habit of building up big reveals in my head, and imagining how excited my kids will be when they find out. I envision their little heads inflating from the pressure and excitement until they pop and go off like a tea kettle on the stove, screaming and happy tears flowing while they exude appreciation.
This was NOT one of those moments.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a school night.”
“But we’ll get home so late.”
“Dad’s going to freak out.”
“We have to go to school the next day or daddy and my teachers will yell at us.”
After a mini car meltdown, I get them to table the conversation until we get home. I’m not sure why I felt like the open air and space of my home would somehow alleviate the stress that the confines of my car created surrounding this conversation. But, when in doubt, stall.
Ten minutes later, we arrived to Sadie the Spaz and unloaded our bags. I took a breath, let the dog outside, and braced myself for what was coming.
“Oh, Christian, I asked Kenzie. She said 'No.'”
My Mommy Senses tingled and my ears perked up, eavesdropping on an exchange that wasn’t meant for me.
“Well, did she say why?”
“No. I just asked her if she would be my brother’s Valentine and she said ‘Ewwww… no.’” Avery shrugged her shoulders and ran outside. My body slouched forward.
I quickly gathered that Avery had asked one of her classmates to be his Valentine and she had rejected my adorable, Casanova-esque, hopeless romantic, slightly sensitive son. Which wouldn’t be THAT big a deal, except he’d already been rejected LAST week by his seatmate, Jenna. Not to mention, Avery’s re-telling was a bit cruel. Christian didn’t need to hear that Kenzie found him gross.
I walked back inside to find Christian crying. “I got shot down TWICE. TWICE, Mom.” I hugged him, comforted him, as I had after last week’s soul-crushing “no.” I tried to explain to him, again, that he was young, not all of his classmates were ready for those feelings, and that you shouldn’t feel the pressure to have someone JUST to have someone for the sake of a fabricated, Hallmark holiday. I wiped his tears, told him I loved him and realized he’d be just fine when he farted on me while laughing uncontrollably.
We proceeded to argue (i.e. I bribed, yelled, threatened) for ten minutes before he finally agreed to hop in the shower. Time to deal with Thing 1. Upstairs, Avery was in my shower and waiting for me to discuss the Andy Grammer concert.
“I want to go, I just wish Daddy wouldn’t be on my back! I know you say it’s OK that he yells at you, but he yells at you over text and yells at me in person.”
To say my ex and I have different parenting styles would be the understatement of the century. I could write an entire blog on our differences in personality, our relationship, and less-than-surprising divorce. And I likely will. But not today. I’m going to need a LOT of chocolate, a margarita or two, and an emotional support human next to me to go down THAT road.
It took me roughly 30 minutes and numerous accommodations and concessions before I finally got her to agree to go. We decided that we’d hold off on telling her dad until AFTER I picked them up after school, once they were clear of his house (Don’t judge me - it’s not lying, it’s selective timing). My mom agreed to sleep over and drop them at school the next morning so they could get two extra hours of sleep. And we agreed that they would do their nightly bedtime call with their dad before we headed to the show, eliminating some of the guilt and anxiety they were anticipating.
We settled all of this just in time for us to head downstairs and prepare dinner. But not before Christian managed to trip over his pajama pants and slide in his sock feet, careening hip first down the last four steps in our house.
Fuck. My. Life. We’d been home for 45 minutes and had already had three crying fits, one panic attack, and a broken heart.
I’d love to say that the night improved. I’d love to think that future Tuesdays might be marginally better. That maybe, eventually, He and I will co-parent in such a way that won’t create such a noticeable gap between the two households.
But as much as I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist. So I understand that every Tuesday, from here to college, will likely mirror the shitshow that was last night. I dream, like I’m sure other divorcees do, of the day when my children feel safe, protected, and free enough to be themselves, no matter who they’re with. When they don’t fear infringing on one of our feelings. When they don’t feel anxious or like they have to hide information out of fear of retaliation.
As I tucked Avery into bed last night, we tossed some ideas around for her upcoming Spirit Week.
“I’d like to wear your Stitch onesie, Mom.” I giggled at the thought of my four-foot, 75-pound, gangly-legged daughter trying to fill out my adult, size XL blue fleece footless pajamas. “Well fine. If that won’t work, maybe I’ll just go as my favorite superhero. I kinda already look just like her anyway.”
I tilted my head, trying to recall something I was sure I’d missed. Superheroes were Christian’s thing, not hers.
“You, Mom. You’re my superhero.”
These are the moments you hold onto. These are the moments, that after three exhausting hours of up-down-loop-the-loop-drop-upside-down on the roller coaster that is my children, I dig my nails into and refuse to let go. Motherhood is fucking hard people. It is downright soul-sucking at times. Most days, I’m convinced I’m just adding fodder to their files for the therapy that is sure to come in the next few years. And then one of them gives me this slightest glimmer, a thread to hang by. They remind me that I am human. And no matter how much I feel like I’m fucking it up, they don’t see my failures. They see their mom - a woman who has been there every Tuesday to hold them as they process their many emotions, someone who has been a literal and figurative punching bag as they work through all of these big feelings.
Whenever your “Tuesday” is, I hope you hug your littles a bit tighter and give yourself a tad more grace than I have in the past. You’re doing a freaking kick-ass job, Mama.