I’m staging a revolution in my head. The accumulation of thoughts and feelings has reached a boiling point – I’m at a crossroads, and I can’t decide if I simply need to lower the heat and simmer down or hit full blast, allowing the bubbles to roll over the edge and hit the burner to get someone’s attention. I don’t entirely know my place but if I don’t find it quickly and secure a firm position, I’m going to be the one who ends up getting burned.
I already feel like I’m getting burned.
It started in the middle of July when Samantha informed me that her cross country practices were already commencing. I hated this for many reasons. One, it annoyed me that the school was infringing upon my summer, like showing up at a birthday party that advertised it would last for 4 hours and finding out it only lasted for 1. Two, the practices were every day beginning at eight o’clock in the morning which is to say, the host of that 1 hour birthday party just announced there won’t be cake or presents. Nevertheless, my daughter made a commitment to be part of the team, and as her mother don’t I want her to respect her responsibilities, be dependable, learn to work hard, and understand how to sacrifice for something you want? Of course I do, so I dutifully drove her to practice every morning.
After school started I got this bombshell one Friday night. “Oh Mom, by the way we have practice tomorrow morning at 8am at a park 70 miles from home because the coach wants to take away more of your happiness.” Or something like that. Maybe it wasn’t exactly 70 miles away, but it WAS at 8am and it WAS a 45 minute drive. And if you’re going to drive 45 minutes for a two hour practice it doesn’t make sense to go home and come back, so this had me alone in the middle of an unfamiliar area trying to kill two hours on a Saturday morning. Enter the silver lining: Mimi’s Café and the Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich with citrus remoulade. I’m nothing if not resourceful.
My tension built last week when another practice went extra long because the coach decided they needed more time in the weight room – Samantha was due to babysit for some friends of ours, and I had to call and tell them she was going to be late. Annoying for all parties involved except, of course, the school/coaches. Ultimately, the final straw hit me last night. Practice ran overtime, we were late for dinner with friends, and en route to our dinner (which was prepared and waiting for us – delightful) Samantha began to stress about the workload she still had that night. I lost my patience – school and sports had already taken ELEVEN HOURS of my daughter’s day, and now that it was time for food and a little family time and a few minutes to, oh I don’t know, let’s get crazy and say “RELAX!” school was still in charge of my family. And for the record, she was up until 11:45 pm doing homework.
I’m completely frustrated, and part of my frustration stems from feeling unsure about my role here. Ultimately I believe I am the parent and I get final say. Right? Not right? I don’t even know. If I tell her to let something go am I holding her back? If I tell her she can’t participate on a Saturday because we’ve made plans as a family and damn it all to hell THEY CAN’T HAVE HER, am I preventing her from learning commitment to a team? Am I just mad because I feel like I’m losing my daughter when this is just the natural course? This is brand new territory for me. I feel like I’m not the one wearing the pants in my own family, and that All Things School has essentially opened the gate, let my daughter in, shut the gate behind her and told me I can peek if I want to from the other side.
What’s a mother to do?