Friday, November 13, 2009

Failing with Aplomb -- Apparently it's just part of my personality.

Dear readers, I know it's cliched and reeks of martyrish? martyresque? martyrdom? (you know what I mean) behavior and all that, but sometimes I do wonder why I even try. Yes, I know this is the mantra of many a mother out there, but seriously I just need to expect failure in certain areas.

Remember those personality tests I've been taking? Well, one of the things I've learned is that in addition to my lovely traits such as being bubbly, charismatic, outgoing, compassionate, easygoing, persuasive (shall I go on?), I can also be disorganized, easily distracted, self-indulgent, undisciplined, lacking in follow through and undependable meeting deadlines (Enough already! My ego cannot take it.)

Actually, it's a big fat lie to say I've just figured this out about myself. The fact is, I've known it for years. Maybe I'm just now old enough to embrace all the parts of my personality, work with who I am and what I want to be, and not sign up for things that aren't a good fit for me, like say, anything having to do with details or organization. Okay, I'm good with being the big picture person who comes up with the creative ideas that I need others to implement. We all play our roles.

But, what does one do when she's the mother of three and is responsible for eleventy-hundred* details in her children's lives, but she has issues with disorganization and follow through? She tries, dear readers, she really does, but as you can imagine, she fails quite often and sometimes quite spectacularly. Like, say, when the school has a Veteran's Day program that requires her child to wear particular articles of clothing.

A month ago the kind music teachers at our school let us know there would be a Veteran's Day program at school this year. Now, unlike many areas of the country, Veteran's Day is a big deal in our little town. There is a parade, there is a breakfast honoring our Vets, there is a program at school. That's how we roll here in the 'Ville, and we love it. Two years ago the Veteran's Day program from our school was held at a mega church in the town next to us and our sweet little elementary-aged cherubs sang with that church's symphony, and there were pictures of all the Vets that the children were related to on-screen, along with their branch of service and what war they fought in. There was even a picture of a British soldier who is related to a family at our school, and we all thought it was wonderful. Yes, we even recognize our Allies on Veteran's Day here in the 'Ville. And let me tell you, that night there was not a dry eye in the house. Not one!

So, this year's program was not quite that elaborate (I'm pretty sure the music teacher can only do that once every 5 years or so, because it was a production!), but it was still important nonetheless. A month before the program we were told that our patriotic children had to wear navy pants and either a white or red shirt. Nothing fancy. In this economy, they didn't want any one worrying about having to buy extra special clothes, just basic solids from your drawer.

Well, since my 9-year-old has grown more than three inches since the summer, he did not have any navy pants that fit, so it was off to the store for me. I didn't mind at all. He needed some new church pants. Now, you've got to realize that going to the store ONE WHOLE MONTH EARLY, is amazing, unbelievable, absolutely fantastic for me. I do not shop a month early for things such as this. I usually go out the night before and run all over town crying tears of panic, because I can't find pants in the right size. That's how I roll. But alas, dear readers, I have determined to add "margin" to my life to help tamp the crazies down just a little, because there is no reason for me to be crazy if I just plan ahead -- or so I tell myself.

So, off to the Target to buy pants. Precious son tries them on and for some reason these size 10 pants are 4 inches too long on my gangly son who is only about 4 or 5 inches shorter than me. Wow, wasn't expecting that. Guess I have to take those back. But I hate taking stuff back to Target since they've become the receipt Nazis, and they try to guilt me into using a credit card to purchase things, so they can keep up with my receipts (since I can't), when I much prefer using my cash envelopes, thank you very much. So, two weeks later (still two weeks ahead of the game) I take them back and buy a pair of 8s. They look like big 8s, so I think they will fit. A week or so later, I remember to try them on my son. As I am sliding on pants that now look overly big, I spot the H next to the size 8. Yep, I bought the size 8 husky pants. Crap, I say (or something like that), I have to go back to Target and return something AGAIN! Oh well, I can do it.

I remember to take back pants the day before the dress rehearsal and exchange them for regular 8s. I just know these will fit, right? I mean, the 10s were 4 inches too long, surely the 8s will be just right. I remember to try them on my precious first born that night after he got home from Scouts. Too small. As in, he would have gone all day without using the bathroom, so he wouldn't have had to button them again small. But, God bless my boy, he was thrilled to have them. They were, after all, the blue pants he had to wear to school for the dress rehearsal the next day.

It is now 8:30 at night, my husband is out of town, and my son's pants, the pants he has to wear the next day, do not fit. Yes, he could have squeezed into them for two days, but then he would have never worn them again, and I'm not throwing $15 bucks down the drain! So what do I do? Go to good ol' Facebook wherein a flurry of messages begins with my school mom friends, and I find out that very dark jeans are acceptable. SCORE!!!

Next morning I tell my son to wear his dark jeans and red shirt, wherein he has a meltdown. Complete and total. He is slightly hysterical in telling me that Mrs. H said "No jeans!" So I tell him that I will go the Wal Marts just up the road and find him a pair that fits and will bring it to him at school before the program. "NO!" he screams, and tells me he is not allowed to change his pants, only his shirt at school. So, being the awesome mom that I am who handles fits such as these in a mature and loving manner, I tell him he can wear his dark jeans or no pants to school. It is totally up to him. I'm sure you're surprised to hear he wore the jeans.

So, true to my word, I run out to the Wal Marts and find a pair that really look like they will fit. My Mom and Dad get to town, and Mom and I go to the program while Dad keeps Little Bit at home. I take the pants. My Mom, being the awesome "I" personality like me says, "Don't worry about it. He's fine now. It'll be too much hassle." Seeing half of the other kids wearing track pants and green t-shirts to the dress rehearsal, I agree. This, I will find out later, was a mistake.

After the performance I go see him and tell him how proud I am and what an awesome job he did and maybe -- just maybe -- he should sing when he is up on stage doing his synchronized flag waving routine with the blue plates, and we all go home happy.

Now, my Mom and Dad have come into town because I cannot go to the actual program Thursday night. When I say "can't go" what I actually mean is "don't want to go." You see, there is this awesome thing called Christmas Village going on, and I am part of the group that puts it on. For the last 13 years, I have volunteered at the show and have even served on the board pre-children. I get a free ticket to Sneak-A-Peek every year, which is the pre-show where they sell wine and lovely ladies shop and there are no strollers or crying babies or people I want to put the smack-down on because they've snatched up the last of whatever I was just looking at.

Sneak-A-Peek is one of my favorite events of the year. And when the school sent out an e-mail concerned about fitting everyone into our tiny gym for the performance, and added a performance, and split people up into alphabetical order to decide when they could see said performance, and even asked parents to come during the day to dress rehearsal instead of the performance if they could, I figured I was golden. Mom and I would go to the rehearsal, dad would take son to performance while mom babysat girls, and I would go shopping. Fool-proof plan, right? Not exactly.

I ran around yesterday afternoon getting ready. I washed red shirt and new navy pants (which fit) and got them ready for the performance. I even got the basketball outfit ready for his practice that was after the performance. I ordered pizza for my precious angel son to eat an hour and 15 minutes before the performance, and I got ready to leave. I told precious angel son that his clothes were on his bed, ready and waiting. I said this to him while he and my father were watching the Golf Channel. I made precious angel son look at me and respond that, yes ma'am, he understood that his performance clothes and basketball clothes were on the bed ready and waiting for him when he needed them. I gave my mom, who was downstairs, directions for my girls and then headed off to get Amy to go shopping.

It was awesome, it was blissful, it was all that was good about Sneak-A-Peek. Amy drank wine and handled me talking to every other person in the crowd with grace. She just left me to go shop, and then I called her to find her. It worked really well. We should do it again next year, Amy.

So, I return home triumphant from my shopping excursion at almost 11. My mom tells me that my son didn't go to basketball practice after the performance because he was tired, and I could care less. Don't blame him. Didn't really expect him to, but I got him prepared anyway, because I am an awesome mom. I ask my mother if dad liked the performance and if he could see him. I was a little worried he wouldn't be able to see his grandson in the sea of faces, because I had forgotten to tell him where said grandson was going to be standing. Mom said that Daddy had no trouble at all seeing him, because he said, "He was the only one in a blue shirt."

What? Wait. What was that? I thought you said blue shirt. (Internal dialogue: "Don't panic and don't yell at your mother, because you have a tendency to yell at your mother, and it's not what nice grown-up, 36-year-old women should do to the mother they really adore.) That can't be right, because he had to wear a red shirt, remember? I put his long-sleeved RED shirt and navy pants out on the bed for him. Mom gets that completely innocent and puzzled look on her face and says, "Well, you know, I wondered if that was what he was supposed to wear."

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!! I scamper up to my son's room and the performance outfit was still right there on his bed undisturbed, and the blue graphic ringer t-shirt he wore to school that has some sort of gas station-type logo on it is crumpled on the floor. Yes, my son wore a graphic t-shirt to the Veteran's Day program at school where everyone I know saw him, seeing as how he stands head and shoulders above the rest of his classmates, and you apparently couldn't miss him BECAUSE HE HAD A BLUE SHIRT ON. My mom did say he remembered his patriotic scarf and had it wrapped around his neck, so it sort of hid the logo. Well, I guess I should be thankful for small favors. All I can say is, "Epic Failure."

Now, I realize dear readers, that wearing the wrong thing to a school program is not, in the grand scheme of things, a big deal. It's just that this is so classic for me and my family it is painful. My son is walking through life with his head so far up in the clouds that I'm surprised he remembers to eat. He is an awesome kid, and I love every inch of him, but he is so much like me it makes me a little crazy. And please don't get me started on the mother I love who would help me kill anyone who hurt my children and hide the bodies. All I can say is I didn't fall far from her "oblivious to details" tree. When she saw the other kids at dress rehearsal in inappropriate clothing, she assumed the blue shirt he had on was fine. And my Daddy, who I love and adore, is not one to notice things like clothes, unless of course you are wearing something showing too much skin or that makes you look hideous, and then he is the first to comment. Needless to say, it was the perfect storm for not getting to the program with the right clothes on. And yes, I totally blame myself. I should have put them on him myself before leaving, but I didn't want pizza sauce all over them.

So that's why, dear readers, I give up. I'm just not worrying about things like dress codes and appropriate attire anymore, because obviously it is an exercise in futility, and I just refuse to beat my head against that brick wall anymore. And next year I'm making Amy drive to Sneak-A-Peek, so I can drink lots of wine so that when I get home to my next failure, it won't matter quite as much. By the way, my friend Lori reminded me on Facebook that only the 3rd-5th grade parents were there, so technically the whole school did not see my epic failure last night. Again, thank goodness for small favors.

* Eleventy-hundred is a real number and it means a whole lot.


  1. I seriously laughed out loud so many times while reading this! Totally something I would do...and I don't have kids clouding my brain! :)

  2. Lori, my dear friend, I also am the person running around at the last minute trying to get the right clothes for the show. MY son wore black pants, and no one noticed. My daughter wore the same shirt as 14 other girls, and no one noticed. And I was there last night and did NOT notice that any of the third graders were wearing screaming blue shirts under their bandanas. Just consider that you're helping your child fight against conformity and peer pressure (admittedly from the teachers, which is normally not so 'peer'). Just a little earlier than kids usually rebel. See you ARE planning ahead! :)

  3. I think you are my twin sister. My sister from another mister.....I think our parents need to sit us down and tell us this. I am so certain because you have described a day in my life.

    I have 4 children and I've run around many many times to get the perfect outfit AT THE LAST MINUTE and then something happens and it doesn't get taken to school or whatever the case may be.....

    And somehow everyone is still breathing when the dust settles..... Well, I'm gasping for air, but most people don't notice or don't care.

    Just wanted to say hello "Sis".... lol

  4. Stephanie -- I think you might be my first, real, honest-to-goodness random visitor to my blog, and if you are I love you for it! I'm guessing you found me from a comment I posted at PioneerWoman, but I'm not sure. Anyway, thanks for coming by and reading me! I checked out your blog and like it, which is good, because I'd have hated to dislike it when you were so sweet to comment on mine, "sis."