So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I had to go to the bank yesterday. Like, walk into the bank and talk to a teller.

“Um, I haven’t done this in so long. I need to withdraw $50. In fives if possible?” I meekly asked. I’ve only used the ATM for years, so I forgot what it was like not to punch numbers and have cash shoot out at me.

“Sure!” the nice woman said. “I hear that all the time. You said all fives? Do you need singles too for change? I mean, most people who ask for fives are looking to break larger bills.”

“No, I need it for pizza parties. Two orchestra, band, soccer, middle school book club and a few others I think. And I need to send five dollars in for each of my kids for end of year gifts for my three daughters’ teachers and coaches. Well, I’m going to give a bigger gift myself, because they were awesome, but the kids wanted to do something, so that’s nice. And I need to send eight dollars in for a t-shirt and 11 dollars for this new music book so my daughter can practice some songs over the summer, but I think I can write a check for those. Oh! And five dollars for a field trip my youngest is taking . . . .”

The teller stares blankly at me.

“You know what? You better make it $100. All in fives if possible.”

My husband calls as I walk out of the bank. “I have a problem,” he says.

My first panicked thought does not go to the idea that he may have just experienced a car accident or lost his job. No, I’m internally freaking out that he can’t follow through on our carefully mapped-out plan regarding how we will get through the next three weeks of activities.

“Tell me you don’t have to go on a trip,” I exclaim, a little too frantically. “Don’t say it.”

Despite that I know this statement is utterly ridiculous, despite that I realize my husband’s job provides most of our family’s income, any mom with multiple kids can relate during the month of May.

He says it. “I have to travel next Thursday and Friday.”

I hurriedly put him on speaker so I can check our family calendar. “Well, you’ll miss a concert, but you’ve seen the others. Maybe I can switch carpool for soccer that night so I can drop the twins off early, and then maybe Jane can drop off at the high school instead of our house. Then in between, I can pick up the new uniform that hopefully will be ready before the weekend for the tournament. Will you be home before the first game at 6:30? I really need you to be home then.”

“That’s the plan,” he responds. “I’m sorry about this.”

“It’s your job!” I say, trying to sound rational but internally sending bad mojo to whomever in the universe messed with my meticulously crafted schedule.

I muster a quick “I love you” and hang up the phone so I can dash to the grocery store. Not for food mind you. I need three pieces of poster board, some new glue (why do middle schoolers still need to glue stuff?), eight gift cards, and if God is on my side, a pair of cheap reader glasses because my daughter thinks it will make her look more like a lawyer for her Language Arts mock trial.

After accumulating all the things on my list, I hop into my minivan smug with self-importance because I have all the things of May under control. I then remember that we have nothing for dinner that night. I wonder if I can pick something up, but I know it’s not possible with kids running in three different directions at 15-minute increments.

So, back into the grocery store I go, for actual food this time. And by actual food I mean a rotisserie chicken, a container of fruit and a small prayer that I have some instant rice in my pantry.

As I sit in the checkout line behind other parents whose carts are filled with flower bouquets for teacher appreciation, craft supplies and convenience food (solidarity to the mom with two stacks of Lunchables), I start a mental checklist of what else I need to finish. The kids need new shorts because they grew two sizes over the winter. I have to find a baby photo of one of my kids (which one needed that?) I signed up to drop off a case of bottled water for a 5K and  I need to find mouse ears for a play and sign up two for soccer tryouts.

As I get into my minivan for the second time, my mother calls. “Hi, just wondering if you sent me those photos you promised of the girls?”

We both know I forgot. I start to word vomit all the things we have going on to the woman who raised three kids herself, when she interjects: “I know, dear. The month of May is always the worst.”

And because I feel old, I can’t fathom that it was always like this. I figured it was my overscheduling, my disorganization, my fault that May sucked.

“No, it’s not just you. Don’t you remember May when you were growing up? You had that three-day long dance recital and softball games and your brother had little league and field trips and class parties and award ceremonies. It was the worst.”

And there it was. May was the worst since the dawn of time apparently.

So, give yourself a break, Mom. Do the things you can and let go of what you can’t. It’s not you. It’s just the fresh Hell that is May.

As I pulled into my driveway and put the car in park, I saw a little sticky note sitting on my dashboard. In big red letters in my handwriting it said, “DON’T FORGET COOKIES.”

Whoops. So, off to the grocery store I go. Again.

You may also like: Why Tired Mothers Stay Up So Late

To the Tired Mom in the Middle of the Night

I’ll Hold You Instead

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

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