School started Tuesday.
On Wednesday, my middle school daughter had picture day.
PICTURE DAY. The day after school started! Which felt like a special form of cruelty, asking me to be organized two days in a row. Like the universe was saying, “NO, Beth, it’s not enough to have ONE day’s worth of clean clothes; you’re supposed to keep a whole pile of them clean ALL THE TIME.”
Now, the universe and I have had a long and loving relationship, but I’ve felt lately like he’s become increasingly unreasonable. More demanding. Kind of a punk. As though all that Awesome Cosmic Power has gone to his head. I decided, therefore, that the universe would need to make it up to me by doing my laundry this year, like a timeout or “opportunity to rethink his position” but with natural consequences, which would serve the dual purposes of knocking him off his high horse for a while and maybe, if I was very lucky, making a dent in Mount Laundry. Win/win!
On Thursday, one of my 1st graders was home sick. With diarrhea. Which created more laundry. Also, the eggs froze in the back of my fridge and we were late getting ready for school so I put a couple in my bra to warm them up. Free back-to-school breakfast tip, folks: putting eggs in your bra doesn’t end well. Well played, Universe. Well played.
Today is Friday, which means today is the day my 1st graders reminded me that I’ve been promising to ride bikes with them to school. In Oregon. Where a giant (even for us) rain storm hit last night. With cascading water. And flooded streets. And waterfalls. And also lots of water. I casually mentioned to said 1st graders that it was raining and implied that we could, perhaps, wait ’til next week to ride our bikes since none of ours come with flotation devices. They collapsed on the floor in tears. And I, as always, played the role of Total Sucker. We rode bikes to school.
Cai’s tire got a flat.
We rode through snow, sleet, and hail. Minus the snow, sleet and hail and plus buckets of rain and mud.
We arrived at school.
Without Cai’s backpack.
And that’s why I arrived at the school again an hour after school started to put two muddy bikes in my car and deliver a missing backpack to my kid. Wet. Bedraggled. Disheveled.
In other words, a mess.
Which makes this morning just like every other morning at our house.
And so, in a fit of honesty, I asked the school secretary whether she’d like me to just go ahead and offer a preemptive apology for all the times I will arrive in her office this year as a raging mess. Forgetting backpacks. And lunches. And permission slips. And to tell her how my kids are getting home. Should I go ahead and say I’m sorry for making her run to and from my kids’ classroom? Should I buy her vats of coffee and cases of wine? “I am a total and complete train wreck,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”
And Heather chuckled and said, “That’s OK. We do train wrecks here.”
We do train wrecks here.
WE DO TRAIN WRECKS HERE.
And oh my word, you guys, can I just say, my heart flew? Flew.
Because with that one phrase, I thought, YES. Yes, we can be here. We can be who we are. We can be our raging mess. We can be embraced for that. Like it’s normal. Like it’s OK. Like we’re OK. And worthy of grace.
And also with that one phrase, Heather summed up all of what we do here. In this online space.
Because we do train wrecks here, too.
The last few days here have exhibited that in spades. People are raw. And messy. And passionate. And scared. And angry. And kind. And unkind. And hurt. And helpful. And healing. And, well, all of it. We’re all of the things. All of us.
I just want you to know that it’s OK. It is. Because we do train wrecks here.
Welcome to the mess.
Announcing a Limited Time AMA
Some of you have asked me questions. Particularly on the last post. But it’s hard to tell which questions are rhetorical and which are questions for which you’d really like a reply. I want you to know, I’m not ignoring you. I just would like to engage more sincerely and less, well, volatilely. (Let’s pretend that’s a word, shall we? <— Rhetorical. We’re totally going to pretend volatilely is a word.) So, for a limited time, due to the fact that my kids are in school with all their backpacks thankyouverymuch, but get out of school later today, I’m going to hang out here and answer questions. As many as I can. I’ll let you know when I need to stop.
So here we go. AMA: Ask Me Anything. You know, like how I feel about cheese.
UPDATE: For example, since I can’t post pictures in comments, here’s my answer to Jessica’s question, “Is your house really as messy as you say it is? For really reals?”
UPDATE #2: I wasn’t able to be around to answer questions when I planned because, you know, life. So I’m going to leave the AMA open indefinitely. I’ll let you know if I need to close it. For now, if you have questions, feel free to ask them.