Today, I Broke Down and Gave In

by Lisa Douglas

The past two weeks of “back-to-school” have been particularly tough for me, watching my kindergartner go off the first time, my oldest son practicing at 6:15am for (TEXAS!!) tackle football for his new-to-him junior high, getting used to the 5:45am alarm clock, 18-hour days, cooking spectacular lunches, all with a teething infant and a smidgeon of sleep deprivation.

Survival by coffee, sometimes brewed more than once a day, is how I’m getting through.

I don’t know what it was about today, perhaps it was finally leaving on time for the first time this week (damn holiday weekend). Or perhaps it was encountering the screaming pre-k child hyperventilating as his father walked away, his shrieks permeating the moist morning air and reverberating through my ribs like a ping pong ball.

Maybe it was handing her chilly water bottle to her, knowing it was too cold to hold, seeing her placing it on the gym floor while they waited to be escorted to her room, and knowing she was going to leave it behind. So I stood, watching, the only parent lingering to watch, and realizing my momma gut was correct – she stood without it. When I saw the look on her face when I grabbed it and gave it to her once more, the look of shock and surprise and elation at seeing me again, much sooner than in a couple hours for lunch, it just about broke me.

It took everything I had to walk out of the building without shedding a tear. I watched other students with their parents, some clung to their arms, some were being dragged (literally) because they weren’t listening, or late. I stifled my tears as I walked as swiftly as I could to my car. I exploded once the key hit the ignition, and cried all the way home.

Today, as I nursed Baby V in the wee morning after returning from school, instead of slurping more coffee to fight the drowse, I gave in to the wear and droop in my eyes, and closed them. We napped for about an hour, her and me, while Baby Dude remained asleep in bed.

The extra sleep was delicious, even if I awoke with a dull headache.

Maybe it’s been building, maybe I could use more naps, or time in the day, or an extra set of arms sewn on my person. I don’t know. But today I gave in to the tears, to the sleep, and admitted defeat.

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