Friday, November 18, 2016

instrument bits

yesterday i got the first "mama i forgot my instrument" 
call from the middle school.
just two nights before this, 
dear mama friends and i were talking about
this exact situation, and ones like them.
about our parental role to decide  when
to let them fail, and when to bail them out.
we mamas together affirmed
a commitment to ourselves and each other
that it is our role, not to always bail them out.
that there is more learning and growth in letting them fail sometimes.
that we can't be driven by how this reflects on us
as humans, women, parents.
that the decision to let them fail is not being harsh, but wise.

so when i got that call two mornings later,
i first had a little chuckle.
remembered the mama & sisterhood commitment from the two nights before.
then kindly, but firmly, told her i wouldn't bring it.
that being prepared for school is important.
i reminded her of our conversation before 
signing the contract for the instrument.
i told her i loved her.
i told her to have a good day.
i hung up.
then, almost immediately, 
i decided to bail her out.

you see i remember so clearly the day 
we picked up that new instrument.

i remember being in new york, the day before, 
when the rest of her classmates got theirs 
at the school program designed for new band students and their parents.

i remember her disappointment that we wouldn't be able to attend,
because i would be in new york and dad needed to be at football practice with bennett. 

i remember her saying she would be the only one without one on friday.

i remember her teary eyes.

i remember my massive mama guilt.

i remember emailing the teacher for details on where i could get the instrument.

i remember deciding that i would surprise her when i got back from new york
with a little after school adventure to get the flute.

i remember it making her day.

i remember it ruining bennett and jane's day,
who did not want to get in the car.

i remember promising slushies on the way back for good behavior.

i remember it taking way longer to get there than i thought.

i remember driving and realizing we really, really didn't have time for this adventure.

i remember thinking, no worries, it was going to be a quick in and out thing at some small little instrument shop.

i remember finally getting there and the parking lot was packed.

i remember walking in the front door and there was a line.

i remember that this line was next to a handicap ramp.

i remember bennett's eye roll and look because we both knew this wouldn't be quick.

i remember hearing many, many instruments being played 
in private lesson rooms in the back of the store.

i remember seeing lots of bright and shiny instruments hanging on the wall.

i remember these instruments seemed to be shouting at jane saying,
"hey little girl, i'm bright and shiny and have lots of buttons...come push them."

i remember not seeing jane dart for them, while i was having a word with bennett about not running up and down the handicap ramp.

i remember hearing a concerned musician speaking sternly with jane.

i remember the tears.

i remember the sweat.

i remember the clock ticking.

i remember almost bailing.

i remember sticking it out.

i remember the conversation with ella.

i remember how my mama guilt transformed to me guilting ella.

i remember making it clear that it was her instrument commitment that brought us here.

i remember her understanding.

i remember the joy of this afternoon adventure was beyond fleeting.

i remember it was almost our turn, and jane had to poop.

i remember asking the mom behind me to please, please save our spot.

i remember her saying yes, and giving me the mama wink.

i remember getting back in line.

i remember it finally being our turn.

i remember signing the contract with ella.

i remember the musician store clerk handing ella the black case with shiny buckles on it.

i remember the look then in jane's eyes...shiny, black, case, buckles, handle...i want it.

i remember telling ella, that we were going to have to 
let jane carry the instrument case to the car.

i remember telling her this would be the only way we would 
get out of this bloody store without more tears.

i remember telling jane, she may carry it, but that she was not allowed 
to open those shiny buckles.

i remember the look of deep concern in ella's eyes.

did i mention i remember the tears? the sweat? the clock ticking?

i remember getting in the car and bennett saying "time for slushies."

i remember looking at the clock and realizing we had 30 minutes until soccer & football practice.

i remember the traffic.

oh how i remember the traffic.

i remember the deep breaths i took before telling kids 
we didn't have time to stop for slushies.

i remember the groans.

i remember the tears.

i remember the defeat.

i remember my mama apologies.

i remember making promises of future slushies.

i remember calling wes to tell him we were running way late.

i remember asking him to have all the gear ready for a quick change.

i remember him telling me my new soccer cleats arrived so he'd get those ready to.

i remember thinking, oh yes, kicking it around the pitch w/the girls is exactly 
what i need after this stressful afternoon.

i remember lacing up and running out the door.

i remember reminding wes that he had to pick ella up from practice, 
because i needed to go to jane's pre-school orientation.

i remember taking the field with my new boots.

i remember how obnoxiously bright they are.

i remember the oohs and ahhs from the girls on my team.

i remember how good it felt to kick and shoot in my new cleats.

i remember having so much fun i lost track of time.

i remember dashing back to the car to scoot over to pre-school orientation.

i remember getting there and realizing i forgot my change of clothes...and shoes.

i remember seeing all the other parents all dressed up, looking lovely.

i remember telling myself that no, no you do not have time to run home and change.

i remember, walking (no click clicking) into orientation 
with my bright green cleats and #goals tank on.

i remember the curious look from teachers and surrounding parents.

i remember having to tell them that no, i don't play professional soccer, 
i just came from running my 10-year old daughter's practice.

i remember i most definitely smelled. 

i remember sitting in the back.

i remember remembering being one of those nicely dressed parents when i was at this same orientation during ella and bennett's pre-school days years before.

i remember thinking, oh this is that 3rd kid thing.

i remember thinking while yes this may definitely be a 3rd kid thing, this is more than that.  
this is the
guilt driven,
over committed,
promise broken,
discipline given,
shiny button pressed,
click clicking,
 cherry on top on this thing called motherhood. 

so yes, i brought ella her flute yesterday,
even though i said i wouldn't.
because, i remember what it took to get that flute.
because, let's face it, sometimes we just don't have our acts together.
because, some days just don't go our way.
because, those are the days when family sticks together
because, this is love.
and because that's where wisdom, growth and learnings are found.

happy friday dear ones!


  1. Well said!! As Moms, we all say we aren't going to cave for those forgotten things, and talk about life lessons. But, at the end of the day, I remember all the things I have forgotten, and wish I had someone to help me out. That's part of my job as a mother, to help my kids out. Maybe they will remember that when their kids forget their cleats, or basketball sneakers, or book....and the list goes on. You, my friend, say it all too well!!

  2. Thank you! Just to know others have days like these with the same thoughts, feelings, and reactions...well it's comforting to know I'm not alone!

  3. This is such a precious account, Erin. I got a lump in my throat thinking about all of the (many) times my dad was late to work or left work early in order to bail me out (musical instruments, gym clothing, homeworks, you name it~~!). There should be an asterisk and footnote w/ my parents names on every single one of my report cards. My parents are still here, visiting for the holidays, so I think i'll take the opportunity to personally thank my dad for being my middle school hero.

    Thanks for sharing! Hope you had a lovely thanksgiving.