How did I get here? It was so irresponsible, so stupid, so not my life. Sure, I had a lot going on, juggling many facets of my life, but I didn’t realize how thin the ice beneath my feet really was. I was on the verge of tears when I dropped the kids off at camp (trying not to think about how many campers would hear the story about the mom who— oops, I’m getting ahead of myself ) and drove to the Your Teen weekly staff meeting in my husband’s car; mine was in the shop—probably due to failed maintenance on my part. Ugh, another sign. I adjusted my glasses— no contact lenses, as my eye was raging with infection. No time for the doctor. I realized I was a mess.
Hold up. Once again, I am getting ahead of myself.
Yesterday, the plumber spent an hour working on our hot water heater, which had “gone” the night before. After no luck in fixing it, he decided he would return the next day with the magic part to restore hot water to my stinky family.
When the plumber returned this morning and said to me, “Hey, any chance your gas was turned off? You didn’t forget to pay your gas bill, right?” the synapses in my head fired, and I knew I had screwed up. (Flashback: I remember placing the bill on my laptop so that I could remember to pay it. By the time the kids went to bed, that bill had been moved and subsequently buried so that someone in my house could check his Facebook account—not that I am pointing any fingers, Zach.)
Profuse apologies to the plumber (I can only imagine how many people he told about this), my husband and my kids (who really weren’t so unhappy to live unwashed for 36 hours) preceded a call to the gas company, followed by a visit from a lovely gasman. Our hot water was restored. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong.
I didn’t pay the gas bill so Dominion Ohio turned off my gas? Seriously? I felt like the protagonist in a movie on Lifetime, with my life falling apart, my husband shaking his head at my stupidity (not really) and my kids embarrassed by me. My life had spun out of control. The unpaid gas bill was a metaphor for all the things I was trying to do, yet failing at miserably. I’d noticed little things lately: the laundry piles, unbalanced bank statements, large stack of unread books on my nightstand, reminiscent of the Tower of Pisa. Seriously, one more book, and that pile was going down.
When I walked into our meeting, my business partner confirmed my deteriorated status with a sympathetic look and laugh—not a laugh at me, but a knowing one.
“I really might cry,” I offered to the staff, as I confessed my sin. They were going to chastise me, shake their heads at me, text their friends about my pathetic state of being—all because I couldn’t remember to pay my GAS bill. What a loser. I could hear the song from Shrek playing over and over again in my head. “She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb on her forehead (thus forming the “L” of “Loser” for those not getting the visual here).
And then, Lisa, a Your Teen staffer, said the words that all of us moms long for. The five words that release us from our torturous, inner selves.
“That’s something I would do,” Lisa offered.
And, with those five words, I was freed. I could see clearly again (sort of ), and I could hear the rest of the lyrics from that Shrek song: “The ice we skate is getting pretty thin. The waters getting warm, so you might as well swim. My world’s on fire, how about yours? That’s the way I like it and I never get bored.” Us moms— not just this one—are always balancing, staggering and mostly just hoping that we can hold it all together—no matter how thin the ice feels beneath us.