Monday, November 10, 2014

Subtext Guilt

I was telling Mike today that I felt like what I was doing is always inadequate. I'm barely keeping up with all the stuff on my todo list.

I'm not keeping up with Boy Scout stuff either. I spent four meetings with a group of boys to work on a merit badge and only two of the ten boys came to me with the little blue cards to sign even though I've reminded them at subsequent meetings at least four times. Even Nick hasn't asked me to sign his little blue card. Mike says they might have to do the work all over again if they lose their worksheets or I forget who did what or both before they arrive with those little blue cards. Not once during the four meetings were the same group of boys there except for Nick. Mike keeps telling me not to push the boys, that they'll realize their mistake at some point and come running to me to finish the merit badge. Yet it's all so demoralizing, this inability to get it finished with any of them.
Over the weekend, I had to sterilize a whole crate of pots and pans from the last campout in September. Everything in it had mildewed. It was so moldy it was hard to breathe, plus, bleach hurts my lungs ever since an unfortunate experience in my chemistry lab in college when the teacher's assistant assumed that everyone in the class understood the definition of 'waft.' It wasn't my job to unload this crate of moldy gear, but I'm the default sterilizer and the one who manages filthy stuff in general. I also haven't managed to run around to get signatures the way Mike asked me to do when he left for camp. It's someone else's job to get these signatures, but that volunteer is out of the country on a business trip, so it has become my job. Default volunteer

Yesterday, I didn't remind Nick to do his chores. I didn't push him to do the extra stuff he could do to earn cash for Christmas either, and I didn't, in fact, get him to do anything away from the television at all. I didn't walk Teddy either. Teddy's due for a walk today, overdue, in fact.

There are appointments I'm procrastinating. I'm over two years late for my mammogram. Who wants to have a mammogram anyway and until recently, I wouldn't have been able to raise my arm high enough to do it because of my shoulder injury. That doesn't account for all two years of being delayed, but I'm using it. It's a good all-around excuse and I'm using it. I'm using it for my delayed colonoscopy too, not to mention that summer was extraordinarily busy and who knows what was going on before that.

I also agreed to write a blurb for the local newspapers about a Boy Scout tree recycling event that will happen after New Year's Day. It's due in two days and I'll have to pass it back and forth in email to get it approved. Who can think that far in advance? Christmas? New Years? I haven't even caught up with birthdays from August! I'm telling you that I'm behind

I haven't called the roofers to get the garage fixed yet. I can't even remember what else I haven't done. See, I have a pile on the dining room table, which is actually in the living room, where all the stuff is put that we don't feel like putting away, or we don't know where away is for that particular item. Okay, I'll admit that I have three piles on the table at this point, most of which is a pet project of mine that I haven't even looked at in over a month. Yes, I need to go through my piles to figure out what I've forgotten to do and what I still have a chance to get done before deadlines pass.

This morning, I was texting Mike that Nick was nervous about doing the flag ceremony in the school assembly today.

"So you stayed for the ceremony? Good," he responded.

"No. I hadn't showered yet. I just met with Jack's wife to get the paperwork he needed to get signed and her son hadn't remembered his uniform." Why do I feel responsible for this kid forgetting his uniform? Why?

"Ah, okay," he replied. I wondered if there was a subtext in that message, the one that said I should have stayed to watch my boy in action. Mike doesn't usually talk in subtext, but I'm well trained, having been raised by a woman who could compliment me with words and make me feel inadequate with her tone of voice at the same time.

"Just my usual bumblings. Not the good mom, if ever. If Nick had asked me to stay, I would have." That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

"Oh, okay. Don't sweat it."

"Just feeling inadequate," I said, still feeling pressure about all this huge list of stuff I haven't done.

"That's the normal state of parenting, in case you didn't know. If there were a Hallmark card that said you were doing an adequate job, I'd buy you that card."

I laughed. There is always so much to do and never enough time or other volunteers to do it. I sent back one more note to Mike. I could see him finding a card for me like that. I would either burst into tears upon opening it, or, in the right spirit of things, I'd laugh until I cried and my sides hurt. I'd like to think I would laugh, getting a card like that from Mike, who isn't good at delivering subtext guilt.

"Thank you. I could use a card like that."

Thank you for listening, jb

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