Perhaps it was the list of errands and the non-stop schedule that threatened to bury me under a pile of obligations for the weekend. Or maybe it was the short, but soggy run I slipped in while my daughter was taking dance class that left my feet wet and my body chilled. It could have been the haphazard drivers navigating the rainy weather. Whatever it was, I felt two parts irritated and one part out-of-sorts. I let out a sigh and decided to take off my "everything is fine" mask.
“I’m grumpy,” I announced. My daughter looked at me in astonishment. I guess I had done a stellar job veiling my true feelings.
I had to think a moment or two. The list of seemingly shallow irritants didn’t feel quite right. So I decided to tell the truth.
“I am overwhelmed by my life.” My daughter gave me a knowing smile.
“I know how you feel.”
I guess she does. She is a junior in high school and I am aware of the constant reminders about grades, test scores, college choices, peer relationships, parental expectations, and teenage rites of passage such as learning to drive and managing adolescence. In that moment, based on the honesty of that mother-daughter exchange, I felt the freedom to verbalize my grumpiness as the day progressed.
We made our way to her choir uniform fitting, just to be told that she had grown a quarter-of-an-inch and that I would need to take out the hem of her gown and re-hem the dress so it was the exact length for optimal stage presence. One more task for an overscheduled working mom. As I toyed with giving the suggestion that perhaps my daughter would be willing to just bend her knees a bit to save us all the trouble, they discovered that there wasn’t enough length in the hem to let it out a quarter of an inch, so I was given two dresses – one to remove the hem, launder and return; and the other to hem to the exact length. When we got to the car, I suggested in all my grumpiness that my daughter should practice her hem stitch.
“But then we both would be grumpy,” she replied. That indeed would be a dangerous combination.
We then made our way to the Goodwill Store on a quest for me to find an inexpensive pullover and a pair of sweats to keep me warm in the hours I would wait before being called to the start at the New York City Marathon, things that I could discard and re-donate at the starting line. I didn’t realize that the Goodwill would be a madhouse the last weekend before Halloween and we spent our precious time fighting for a parking place and wading through cranky kids, tired mothers, and slightly used costumes before we could find anything resembling active wear hidden away in the back. I continued to verbalize my state of mind as we went through the racks.
“Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.”
“Mom, you are trying to stay warm, not create a fashion sensation.”
“I’m grumpy because I was sure I could do both for a budget of $3 to $5.”
I have a theory when it comes to work out clothes. Goodwill did not let me down. Size "small" is a rare commodity in surplus workout wear. Size "large" and "extra-large" are always in ample supply. Eventually, grumpiness aside, we found a white fleece pullover that will most certainly make me look like the Michelin Tire Man, but no luck with pull-on sweats. Everything we looked at, even pants with a generous drawstring were about two people too big. In a fit of boredom, I made the mistake of checking my email, just to find a string of concerned friends asking me how I was planning around Hurricane Sandy aka the Frankenstorm, heading towards New York City and threatening the best laid marathon plans. As I made my meager purchase, my daughter threw in an emergency pack of rain ponchos as a tribute to the possibility of running through a hurricane-soaked mega-city. We navigated back to our car to find that someone was blocking our exit. We discussed all the possible methods we could use to get the blocking vehicle to move, and as we amused ourselves, the driver finally relized their faux pas and pulled away giving us freedom to leave. Amusement is a good diversion from the negativity we can find in everyday life.
Back on our whirlwind schedule, I had just enough time to drop my daughter home, take a hot shower in a feeble attempt to restore circulation to my chilled body and drive slightly over the speed limit in order to honor my appointment for a hair cut. For the next hour, my well-meaning stylist lamented on how “mousy” my hair color seemed and I grumpily explained it was my “natural” color. She theorized that my lackluster looks must be due to an abundance of incoming gray hair.
“Have you ever considered becoming a brunette?”
“Well perhaps you would like to look at a few pictures to see how to brighten your look. They’re all a bit younger than you, but at least you can get an idea . . .”
I practiced saying my most recent mantra under my breath. “I love myself just the way I am. I deserve a beautiful and happy life.” I opted out of the offer to spend an additional $100 on “brightening” my look and decided instead that I would embrace my current state. This middle-aged, graying, over-worked woman is grumpy. And I am damn proud of it.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012