Parenting, an exercise in barely-controlled chaos

The contrast between my childish ideas of what it means to be an adult and parent with what my current experiences are sometimes blows my brain right out into the rings of Saturn or beyond. The extent to which I don’t know what I’m doing, feel entirely unprepared to handle various realities of parenthood, or actively resistant to the responsibilities that I find on my plate staggers me.

It is indisputable that parents have more power than children, that adults in general have powers and freedoms that children yearn for. It is also true that is impossible for many kids (especially of privileged backgrounds) to understand the responsibilities, complexities, and challenges of adult life. I did not get AT ALL as a child many of the ways in which things were tough for my parents. And of course, I could not have done so.

Still, I want to thank my parents for the effort, sacrifice, and love they put into raising me. Damn, it is hard work!

What is still firmly cemented in the stubborn neurons of my brain is that parents, basically, know what they’re doing, are in control, and even if they make mistakes here or there it’s just an issue of mending the sail or varnishing the rail: the boat keeps on moving. If childhood and parenthood are circles on a Venn diagram, there’s hardly any overlap: parents are adults who know what they’re doing while kids are kids who don’t, and that’s that. (Stop laughing.)

So obviously, by that reasoning, I am not an adult, even if, weirdly, I have become a parent.

Why am I freaking out? Well, we have an open house at the elementary school we’re hoping Hazel can attend next year. The open house is tomorrow morning. I was supposed to arrange child care. I realized this evening, about 45 minutes ago, that I had not. In fact, as I was looking at tomorrow’s schedule during a call to our nanny to ask (beg) her to come in early, I realized that I had neglected to consciously realize that I also have two appointments scheduled for the same time later on in the morning. And this has been the case for weeks. I intended to resolve the double booking, but then I just forgot. I feel like the kid telling her teacher that the dog ate her homework. “Um, well, see, first he chewed it up, and then I grabbed it out of his mouth, but it was all covered with saliva, and I didn’t want you to catch some weird dog sickness, so I threw it away, because I care about your health.”

Uh-huh.

Tonight I kept saying to Ted, “What is wrong with me?” It’s actually not like me to drop the ball so thoroughly. I know, there’s so much on my plate, I haven’t been getting enough sleep, etc., etc., etc. But still, there’s that part of my brain saying that I should just be able to do it all anyway. I am still capable of some logical thought, and do see that if you drop everything to do something else, those other things you dropped don’t just magically bounce back up on their own. There is only so much time, so much energy, and so many resources. Some things will have to take a longer absence from the familial plate. There’s just not room for everything on it.

Nonetheless, I am fortunate in my partner and community. Ted is going to take the day off tomorrow. My nanny is going to come early so we can go to the open house. And then I will practice throughout the day while Ted takes care of the kids.

And I will again work on calming down the hyperactive squirrel that runs around inside my brain periodically shouting out, “Taxes!”, “Email!”, “Scheduling!”, “Time with Hazel!”, “Exercise!”, “More, more, more, more, more!!!”

Shut up, squirrel. You’re not helping.

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