Thursday, October 16, 2008

The story of how one adorable pair of heels thrust me into an abyss of self-pity

Here's an important lesson we learned last night: No matter how much your husband needs a new dress shirt for an important business meeting the next day it is NEVER a good idea to take two sick kids and a sick pregnant chick out to help find one. Though this was 100% my idea, I am completely willing to admit it was a terrible one. Because it ended in a complete and total meltdown for me and the kids...

It all started when I tried on an adorable pair strappy suede heels while distracting the kids at Marshall's. Oh, the shoe was beautiful. And sexy. And flirty. And I looked in the mirror at my unwashed hair in a messy ponytail, my sloppy blue jeans that had been worn one day too many and my husband's dress shirt (I'm currently in denial about my need for maternity clothes) and suddenly the proverbial ton of bricks hit me hard. I may never ever need to wear cute shoes on a regular basis again. Which actually somehow translated to: I may never be cute or relevant or flirty or cool again. I may never be useful or socially valued again. I may never be anything but a sloppy, grungy SAHM with chronic crankiness issues and no lasting impression on society.

God help me, I almost started bawling right there in the shoe aisle at Marshall's. But, I didn't. I pulled it together. And having not found the holy grail of men's dress shirts, I grabbed my wiggling kids and headed off to our next high class destination. You guessed it. JC Penney.

So, there we are in JC Penney. Sick and miserable and wrangling wiggling kids while picking out the perfect dress shirt for Thomas' important interview. And he says to me, "Hey they're having a great sale. Should we go buy some stuff for you?" To which I automatically reply, "No. You're the one with a job. Let's don't waste the money."

There you have it. In a nutshell. It would be a waste of money because, well, what do I do besides wipe noses and butts all day? But, I still didn't lose it because I had two wriggling whining kids to corral while the other shoppers tried unsuccessfully to disguise their disdain for my noisy snotty-nosed children.

And, here's where I actually lose it. At the counter, one shirt rings up at regular price. The next shirt is supposed to ring up at 88 cents because of this big sale (pretty amazing sale, right?) but it doesn't. It rings up at...$4.90. GASP!!! Apparently the promotion didn't apply to clearance items. Which prompts some angry rant against the pitiful cashier about how ridiculous it is that they would rather discount a $42 shirt down to 88 cents than a $4.90 to 88 cents. Because at this point I'm desperate for someone to understand that I have a brain that works and is valuable and the only way I know to make that clear is by pointing out a glaringly stupid (not to mention financially unsound) policy to some girl who probably is making $7 an hour and would like nothing more than to finish her shift with as little drama as possible.

I was rude and ugly and just, honestly, a bitch. And I did it all while wearing sloppy jeans, my husband's dress shirt, and a hideously unwashed and unkempt ponytail. Not to mention, trying as hard as possible to get my seemingly unruly and snotty-nosed children under control. Not my finest moment.

All of this is how I came to be sitting in the front seat of a messy minivan at 8:00 on a Wednesday night crying all the way home and listening to my children bawl at the loss of their "mall cookie privileges."

I wish I could say that I came home and my kids said something deep and profound that made me realize I would always be a valuable member of society even if not in a way that is immediately obvious or that makes cute shoes a necessity but it didn't happen that way. In fact, I felt even worse about myself for failing at the one important job I do have.

So, this story has no happy ending. At least not one I can tie up with a pretty bow. Because, honestly, this is my constant struggle. It is easy to feel left behind by the rest of the world when you're home washing clothes and changing diapers. But, I know what I am doing is important even if it feels thankless and unimportant some days. I just wish it wasn't so hard to remember that on a daily basis.

And, if I'm being honest, I wish the required footwear was a bit more glamorous as well...


Amanda said...

I'm sending out virtual hugs right now.

I think this is a case of "the grass is greener" syndrome. The SAHM mom's I know stuggle with the feelings you have.

On the other hand, I, and other moms working outside the home, don't feel as stylish as the other mom's because I have to throw something on at the last minute to get Hope out the door for school.

But clothing aside, the SAHM I know often beat themselves up over their parenting because they have high expectations for their "one job."

Moms working outside the home, like me, feel like a failure as a parent because we aren't there all the time.

In a nutshell, being a mom is wonderful and harrowing at the same time. Either way we all second guess ourselves.

You are an awesome mom!

Amanda said...

please ignore the bad grammer and misplaced '

I think I left my brain at home!

Halie said...

You are a great mom! Your job is so important, even when some days don't feel like that.

I agree with Amanda above.
Whicheve situation you are in, working mom or SAHM, you will always want to be the other at some point, I am sure.

Not that I can really speak on this right now, since I don't have kids, but I can imagine I will feel that way when I do.
If I work, I will be envious of those moms who are SAHM.

Ivy, Kai and baby boy Loving are/will be so lucky to have you as their mom.

Also, where is Thomas interviewing?
We will definitely be thinking of your guys, I know he is really looking to do something else.
Keep me updated with how it goes.

kellymac said...


Go back and buy the shoes. Wear 'em to Kroger if you have to. You're worth it.

chanelireli said...

Here is a great big hug! I have a friend that wears heels every day as a SAHM mom, I don't know why, but she does. So if you want cute shoes, put them on with your dirty pony tail and sloppy jeans and feel sexy :)

Anonymous said...

Sh*tty day. Sucks the big one. Does it help to know that I sit at my desk and wonder why in the world I put it all on hold for *this* - amanda's right that the grass is always greener. Three years of school and that may be the best lesson I learned :)

and halie's right too. you rock as a mama and your kids are all the luckier to have one who is willing to be "real" - even in the bad moments.

Anyways, you should totally read Wendell Berry. He had this great line about women gaining the right to work and how really all we did was exchange bosses (our families) who cared about us for bosses who don't give a damn about us. It really is thought-provoking. And he doesn't cuss in his version, which makes him a little more credible. And he thinks farming rocks...maybe he hasn't met your chickens though.

hope thomas' big day went well. can't wait to hear about it.

tons of hugs. from your friend with the shriveled ovaries.

Amy said...

Been there done that, and I still have been known to act that way on occasion. Why is it that we as mom's feel the world caving in on us at times, I have no doubt you are a fantastic person, mother, and wife (why else would you have taken your sick children out with you to buy your husband a new work shirt?) Hang in there and God Bless!

Jen said...

Hey Jen,

Well, if it helps, I feel guilty sitting in my cubicle because I'm not playing with my kids. And I feel guilty when they misbehave in public because I figure it's my fault for not being there for them in the formative year. And I feel really, really guilty when my 95-year-old granmda asks me if I'm "still working" because I should be home with my kids.

And on another note ... I didn't wear makeup once last week because it took too much effort to get the kids ready before work. And I've gone to work with spitup on my shoulder. And I've leaked milk through my shirt while at work.

No matter which way you play it, moms put themselves on a guilt trip ... and we feel sorry for ourselves. We've all been there, and it sucks.

Don't know if that encouraged you or not, but at least you know you're not alone. Parenting is hard. It's often thankless, but I wouldn't trade it.


Rae said...

Augh. I just hate those kind of days. It IS so difficult to feel like you matter when you're at home with crazy children and yourself to talk to. I swear, some days, I feel like Tom Hanks on a deserted island. WILSON!!!!! Honestly, I catch myself thinking, why in the world am I so distraught about this? Doesn't anyone care that these bananas have spots on them after 2 days on the counter? Why does Sadie Claire have to pretend to be a puppy to the extent of eating dog food? Am I going crazy?

Ha. I guess it's the fate of SAHMs. Just know that you're a valuable person!