Saturday, October 24, 2009

Broken Hearted Crying

I unwittingly reached a new low in parenting my eldest on Friday.

She's joined the school choir this year and had a performance at a local retirement home on Friday. I knew this. I was going to pick her up at 4:30 after it was done, instead of attending since a) the twins would be with me and b) the school concert is this next Tuesday where I'd get to see the whole show in relative comfort (e.g. with more arms available to hold squirmy twins).

Then I got the call from Eric where he told me that she told him that I'd be walking her to the performance after school. Uh...what?!

Suddenly, I was on the hook.

Well, okay then. I packed up the twins and the stroller and went up to her school and waited in the hallway with all of the other parents that were walking. I did not, however, walk into the classroom when all of the other parents walked in because I had the twins running up and down the hallway to try to burn some energy off of them.

This was my fatal mistake.

Lined up outside the classroom were the choir snacks, so I knew that if I just waited, Caitlin would come out to grab a snack and we'd say Hi! She did come out, eventually, in the last group to get snacks and her eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot.

"Caitlin! Hi! Wha--what's the matter? Why are you crying?"

Caitlin threw herself at my legs, wrapped her arms around my waist and choked out that she didn't think I was coming. That she looked and looked at all of the moms and didn't see me and thought I wouldn't be there.

I was utterly crushed. She was utterly crushed.

I had no idea how important it was to walk in that door. I had no idea she was looking forward to seeing me so much. I had no idea that she cared THAT MUCH. I crushed her and I never knew it until I was patting her back and hugging her tight and apologizing for not walking in the classroom door.

We fight so often these days that I actually forget that she's 8 years old and still loves me dearly, even when she's being a terrific brat. I forget that our fighting and yelling and rounds of punishment for rudeness and door slamming and talking back is not the same as hating me. Even when she says she hates me. I forgot that sometimes it means more to just show up to an event than it does to actually participate in it (I spent half the time watching/listening and the other half showing the twins the home therapy dog and fish tank and responding to questions from the staff about the twins.).

This parenting gig is hard freakin' work but it's the stuff like this that blindsides you that makes me feel like a failure.

She's fine now. The performance went really well and she sings like an angel. I'm looking forward to the school concert where I'll get to hear it again with the rest of the family and maybe even take a picture or two.

My hard lesson for the day: Don't forget to walk in the door.


Scylla said...

Hugs to you guys! Big huge hugs. Oh, and sloppy wet kisses from faces covered in something sticky.

Anonymous said...

Wow, dont be so hard on yourself, parents are not perfect, its a very hard job!
Donna, NY

Cousin Janet from NY said...

She does sing like an angel, doesn't she? I had never known till she stayed with us. She must have gotten that from your side of the family. Nobody on this side can sing, that's for damned sure.
I hope you sat down with her at a calmer moment & explained to her that you didn't realize she would be so disappointed if you didn't walk in. That you certainly didn't realize that & felt awful. I'm sure you did, cuz with all the stress, you are really a wonderful mother. And she does adore you.

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