March 19, 2009: Man, did I feel like an idiot this morning. One of those days were you feel like you have failed as a mother. I had a great morning plan outlined - that right there should tell you disaster is imminent. I was going to get up, put on my running clothes, walk the girls to school, and then get a workout in at The Pavement (i.e. jogging on the streets of Caen) straight away. Then I was going to get home and start clearing out this extra room that has been full to the ceiling with trash since we arrived. Trash as in boxes from Ikea and other items purchased and all that plastic wrappy, bubbly/styrofoam stuff. Obviously, we are having some trash pick-up problems so these big items have been hard to unload. And I planned to break down all the boxes and put them in our CTA Bus and drive them to the dump myself. My vision for this room, which is right off to your left when you enter the building, is to be a workout room. It'll have a machine of some kind eventually, but mostly core training stuff like bands, balls and mats. So that was my plan: School, The Pavement, Extra Room, Dump, Pick up Grace from school. Well, I did get to school. But when we were about 1 block from school we noticed kids wearing costumes. Like it was October 31 or something. And as we got closer and closer, I knew I messed something up, missed something crucial here. I knew Carnival (a holiday celebrated around Lent and typically with disguises/costumes) was coming, but this morning at breakfast I had asked Ella when they were celebrating it at school and she said next Tuesday - she was absolutely sure of it. Shew, I thought. But when we got to school, it was obvious that today was Carnival and this was the day of celebration. A day of wearing costumes all day, parading around in them, playing in them, dancing in them. It was like a school Halloween party celebration in the U.S., but from 1983 when you could actually wear your costumes to school and keep them on all day long. And my girls were not wearing costumes. They were the Americans not wearing costumes. I felt like an ass! Ella was on the verge of tears, feeling left out. Grace and Mia couldn't have cared less, but I felt really bad when their teachers looked at me and (probably) said, "do they have disguises to wear?" "No", I said. "Our "deguisements" are in Colorado with 80 other things I wish I had right now." OK, I didn't say all of that. Grace and Mia's teacher looked around the room trying to conger up some kind of costumes for them - I wish I would've taken a picture of the final product. It was more of a hodge podge of mismatched clothes than anything else. Ella gave them a few words of encouragement and then I took her up to her room. She was brave and a real sport about the whole thing. Now, since I had on my running shoes and my running attire, I promised to run back to the apartment really fast and come back with whatever I could find that resembled a costume. I mean, there was clearly a costume parade on the horizon, in a matter of minutes, and my children were not going to be left out! This is the Good-Bad I was talking about. It is Bad that I was not prepared for this big day - but Good that I had worn my running stuff so that I could zip home quickly and back to school again. I got back to the apartment and found 3 silly hats and some home-made masks and that was about the extent of the deguisements in our house! I arrived back to school and I got some approving looks from Grace and Mia's teachers when I presented them with the silly hats and masks. Ella was relieved when I returned with SOMETHING, ANYTHING and she received some compliments on her silly hat from her classmates. So then I left the school, when all was finally right with the world. But I left feeling like an idiot. Like a mother who was unprepared, who didn't adequately prepare her children for their day at school.
I walked home, instead of running, because I also felt like a mother who had to pee but hadn't had a chance to consider that for quite some time. After I took care of that business, I finally went to The Pavement. And as usual, it made me feel better, gave me time to reflect and give myself a break for what had happened. It could have been worse, it could have just been Bad. I could have had absolutely nothing at the apartment to give them for costumes. I could have been wearing awful shoes that made me have to walk home slowly. I could have had twins that actually cared about all this, resulting in three girls with tears. But instead I had running gear, silly clothing and a little bit of time on my side to right the situation. It was a Good-Bad. I like Good-Bads a lot more than I like Bad-Bads.
After my run, I had a quick bite for breakfast and heard lots of commotion. Peeking outside, I saw tons of people, picketing, chanting, blocking traffic. Big strike. I don't know what the strike was about but I sure am glad I didn't have to drive anywhere today as it would have been fruitless. No, I spent the rest of my morning breaking down boxes and loading up the CTA bus for a trip to the city dump. I was quite surprised that I actually ended up finishing. Now the only thing left is a trip to the dump tomorrow. Home gym, here I come!
Grace had another pee-free day, no wetting the bed during her nap at home. I informed her that Monday was her big-girl day, the day she would stay at school for naps and would have to pee before and after nap time in the potty but not in her cot. She said she was ready. But I have to say, I have liked my one-on-one time with Grace. She is really silly - sillier than I knew! It is hard to get dedicated one on one time with three kids so close in age, away from everyone else. And this issue has afforded me the opportunity to do that - spend special time with Grace that I otherwise wouldn't have had. So there you go - another Good-Bad!
Grace and I prepared a picnic dinner to have at the park with Ella and Mia after picking them up from school. When we arrived at school, Ella proclaimed she had a boyfriend and that she made a new girlfriend. Yay! Mia had some candy in her hand that she had probably been holding for the past 4 hours, just keeping tabs on it so she could enjoy some later. I knew this because she had those colored candy dye rings on the palm of her hand, like when you hold M-n-M's for a long period of time. The picnic really made them happy, it was easy for me to put together with Grace, so the night was a success.
Tomorrow is Friday. What'll we do this weekend? I should know, but I don't. Andrew has had a long but fruitful week at work and not much time to spend with the girls. So whatever I come up with, it'll be something that allows us to be close and connected.
Pictured above: The strike today, from one of our apartment windows.