At my best, I am an awesome multi-tasker. I get a jazzed feeling when I’ve got lots of things going on at once and I’m on top of all of them. I revel in my brain’s ability to keep various dates and schedules and projects sorted out in my mind, to keep plates spinning and balls in the air.
We have a big calendar on the door to the music room in our house. I’ve got us all color-coded with sharpies so I can tell at a glance who has something going on every day. Baseball and softball practices and games, plus Alex’s Jr. Umpire schedule. And the rest of us – work schedules, Bill’s students’ concert schedules, my Dad’s various appointments. We’re all up there.
I love calendars and sharpies.
We’ve been extra mentally and physically busy since Dad came home, my sister and I. Our sleepover schedules at Dad’s and our normal work schedules and getting used to Hospice coming in and out and our own families’ schedules and needs and wants…it’s a lot.
In addition to all the scheduling and physical care and grocery shopping and laundry (in Dad’s house and our own homes), there are our families who have to adjust to our absences, our divided attention. And there’s our own knowledge of and sometimes guilt for being pulled in so many directions. And the sleep deprivation. It’s a lot.
But we are doing our best.
A week ago I got Bill and the kids out the door and then headed down to Dad’s. I took a different route so I could stop by one of our favorite coffee places and get coffee for my Dad, my sister, and me.
I placed my order at the drive-thru and while I waited at the window for my coffees and a bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-an-english-muffin each for my sister and me, I checked my phone and saw a text from Bill.
“Looks like Alex missed his umpiring games on Saturday.”
The girl came to the window and handed me the three coffees on a tray, and as I turned to place them on the seat beside me in the truck, I spilled them. All three.
I screwed up Alex’s schedule and now I spilled our coffees.
I tipped the coffee cups up and saved about half the contents of each.
While I waited for the sandwiches, I checked our email and sure enough, there was a message from the umpire coordinator and the head of the league and did Alex forget, was anything wrong, did he try to get another kid to cover his games?
And all I could see was this:
YOU SCREWED EVERYTHING UP, JAYNE!!!!!!!!!
The girl handed me my bag of sandwiches and I pulled into the parking lot and typed a hysterical apologetic email to the umpire coordinator and a weepy apologetic text to Bill.
I had forgotten to write May’s umpire schedule on the calendar.
I failed EVERYONE.
I deprived two little league teams of a Junior Umpire on Saturday and left the adult umpires to handle the games on their own.
I screwed Alex out of TWO PAID UMPIRE SHIFTS.
I let him down, the local little league organization down, all little boys and girls everywhere who play little league down, and demonstrated my supreme incompetence to all the little league powers that be.
That one text dropped all my spinning plates and airborne balls to the ground in one long, deafening crash, and I started crying angry, frustrated, I’m-a-loser tears for the rest of the drive to my Dad’s house in my coffee-scented truck.
I got to the house, parked, and called Bill. Fortunately he was not in a class, so he could listen to my flagellating apology without having to stop me.
And he said the right things.
He said I have a lot going on. He said Alex needs to take responsibility for his schedule. He said he would find the schedule for May and write all the dates on the calendar. (Thank you, Bill)
I calmed down.
My sister was standing in the doorway, wondering what the delay on the coffee was. I got out and went around to the other side of the truck and tried to lift out the tray. The bottoms of all the cup sections were soaked and one of them disintegrated and I watched, helplessly, my hands full, as one cup dropped most of the way through. Fortunately the wide top stopped it from going through completely. Small miracles.
I carried all my stuff to the house and told Meredith my long tail of hysterical woe and she reminded me that the world really was not coming to an end because of me, and it will all be okay.
Hers is the voice of reason when my thoughts spin out of control. (Thank you, Mere)
It was just one thing. One relatively little thing to tip everything in my giant bag of stuff over and spill everything on the ground. One relatively little thing to make me burst into tears.
I tried to explain those tears to Bill the next day.
They were not tears of helplessness.
Those tears were not of sadness or sorrow.
They were rage and frustration, reigned in.
They were an alternative to me shouting and swearing, or throwing things or breaking things or being violent and loud and out of control.
They were cleansing and healing, and now I pick up my broken dishes and juggling balls and get new dishes and start them spinning, and toss the balls up into the air.
I start again.