Saturday, February 23, 2008

worst. mother. ever.

This weekend Anna is at her dad's. Eric picks her up from school on Thursdays and on the weekends she's at his house, she stays with him until Monday. Now, the routine is for David to pick her up from school on Fridays, and every Friday it's my job to remind him that it's his day to pick her up. This parenting thing is new to him, and his work is so in-the-moment that he gets wrapped up and I know how easy it would be for him to forget. Plus the last several weeks have been wonky because one Friday her Nana wanted to pick her up, another couple Fridays David was travelling for work so I picked her up. Well yesterday, with the knowledge that she was at her dad's this weekend, I was just not thinking....until my phone rang at 3:15 and I saw it was the school. Immediately I knew: OH FUCK FUCK FUCK SHIT OH MY GOD SHIT WE FORGOT TO PICK UP ANNA FROM SCHOOL!!!! As always, her teacher stands on the steps of their classroom and watches to make sure the appropriate parent/gaurdian is picking up each child. This day she waited with Anna...and waited and waited, as EVERY. LAST. CHILD. at school walked off, hand in hand, with their loving and responsible care-takers. Finally, her teacher sent her to the school office, with instructions for them to call me.

The gal in the office calmed me down by saying that Anna was fine, totally calm and I shouldn't worry. I had them put her on the phone, and she sounded fine (just FINE). I frantically dialed David reapeatedly but couldn't reach him; he'd been travelling the night before and hadn't turned his phone on after being on the plane. Then I called her aunt Karen, who, thank jeebus, has children at the same school, lives a few blocks away and is a stay at home mom. She immediately went and picked Anna up and kept her until one of us could get over there. Soon thereafter, Eric called to chat, and I told him what happened. At that point I was laughing about it, because HA HA HA What a dumb-ass I am!! We forgot to pick up our daughter from school! HA HA HA Can you believe that?!

He was NOT amused; he was pissed. The dynamic in our relationship always was (and, I'm afraid, always will be) that he is the dark, moody WORRYER, and I am the "Oh, everything is going to be fine!" person. Typical glass half empty married to glass half full. So I knew he was going to make a bigger deal of it than it needed to be; I know that kids take their cues from their parents, and I feared he was going to make a big deal out of it. Furthermore, as he reminded me, once HIS dad forgot to pick him up from school, and it remains one of the most awful memories of his childhood. sigh.

Once Eric had picked her up from Karen's, I called and asked to talk to her. I told her (again) how sorry I was. She was laughing and talking about her milk-shake and how she and Eric had just gone and started her first ever savings account and that she was goiong to save up to buy a horse. She didn't seem upst at all. I breathed a sigh of relief and thought "Whew. Maybe she DOES have enough of me in her genes to get through this without it traumatizing her for life."

And then, last night as she and Eric lay on his couch watching a movie, she had an anxiety attack. Her first-ever anxiety attack.

Sweet, sweet Anna, who has a heart of gold...she internalizes everything. And then her anxiety manifests itself in the form of too much handwashing, checking to make sure the doors are all locked before bed. That's right, I've also passed on my OCD gene. And now, anxiety attacks.

Shit. I knew I shouldn't reproduce.

**UPDATE: Part of what made me feel terrible is was Eric telling me that the very reason Anna keeps her feelings in is because I laugh everything off. So she feels she has to keep up the facade of being happy. He assured me that even though she didn't seem upset by being left at school. She MUST be. And the incident, paired with the fact that I "don't take anything seriously" is absolutely what caused her panic attack.

Well, while Eric went to a class this morning, I took Anna to run some errands with me. At one point I again apologized about yesterday and she said "What are you talking about??" So said, "You know, you being left at school" and she said "That's ok. I got to play a game in the office while I waited!" Then later I opened up a dialog about her breathing trouble and chest pain last night. She said "Yeah, it's happened a few times before. Usually when I'm super super super happy or when I'm upset." Aaah, an opening! So asked her if she was was upset last night and she said yes. I asked what about and she said "Well, Georgia yelled at me TWICE yesterday for no good reason!" Georgia is a classmate and new-ish friend. I laughed and said "Welcome to hanging around 7 year olds." And she just laughed and laughed. So overall, I don't think it was nearly as traumatizing as it could have been, or as some people (oh yes, Witchie Poo got in on it too...) would believe. As David, who knows a thing or two about childhood trauma, said: "She's 7 and this is the most-loved kid I know. This was so minor compared to all the love she gets and all the things you guys do right."

So. I guess I'm not the worst. mother. ever. Just the worst mother of the day.


jpogue said...

Don't let Eric make you over analyze stupid shit! Good heavens, if you feel so guilty that you apologize over and over she's going to fell like you really did do something wrong rather than making a simple mistake. Besides, having something like that happen shows her that even though things don't always go as planned, she was safe and things turned out fine.

I feel your pain. Ival is just like Eric and I always have to counter balance anything that goes wrong with light hearted "see, things happen that aren't exactly how we hope they'll be but in the end, things turn out fine and nothing bad came of it."

Don't you dare feel guilty for another minute!

Linda, aka "Lala" said...

We "forgot" Andrea at daycare once. (Misunderstanding on who was picking her up.) I felt pretty damn guilty. I thought I was the worst mother in the world. But a teacher stayed with her while they located us, (of course), and until we picked her up.

As I recall, she looked at it as "special" time for her to spend with her teacher. She survived just fine.

Hmmm, come to think of it, she IS bi-polar now. Coincidence? Yea, gotta be. Cuz I'm sure it was all the times the DAMN tooth fairy forgot her - that's what did it! Poor kid told me she was going to start sleeping with a fly swatter, to teach the forgetful tooth fairy a lesson!

Kids who know they are loved, are pretty darn resilient. And Moms who don't panic about stuff, and instead turn things like that into opportunities for talk, fun, laughter and happy hugs - just reinforce that resilience.

Linda, aka "Lala" said...

It doesn't hurt a kid to know their parents are human.

kate said...

Lala, that's exactly what David said; that it's ok for kids to know that even grown-ups make mistakes and the world doesn't come to an end. And that she knows there are other people beside just her parents looking out for her, like the teacher, the school secretary, Aunt Karen. Afterall, "it takes a village."

And thank you Jodi and Lala both for reinforcing my instict on how to handle it. As you know, I typically see most things as funny and amusing and an opportunity for playfulness. Eric just has to rain on my parade every now and then to remind me why I divorced his ass. : )

All of it, by the way, is better today, including Eric.

I love you both! 13 days and counting....

Dee said...

So now I see where the idea that Anna would be traumatized for life over minute incidences came from, Eric. And, the girls are right, apologize once and forget it. No big deal. Even when they get hurt, you remain calm ( no laughing there ) but the child reacts to how the parent acts. You are doing fine, just fine, and so is Anna. And so is David. You are a GOOD PARENT.
Now its 11 days----and counting.
love you !