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Hang In There, Mama, You're Doing Fine

I am the type of mom that might *appear* to have it all together. I work full time at a high-level position. I run a not-for-profit advocacy program and a part-time PR company. I have an obsession with keeping my house clean. My oldest is attending a wonderful college in Utah. My youngest is smarter than I am to the point that I rely on Khan Academy to help him with math homework. And I'm Mrs. California America 2021.

But come on, we all KNOW I don't have it all together. I'm human just like everyone else. I'm honest about my Pinterest fails, that marriage is hard, that I can't do Algebra, and I only recently learned how to cook. I want people to know that life isn't based on a social media highlight reel.

So today, I'm chuckling because I had to Google when my youngest returns to school. Because three years ago, I messed up as a parent. Then I posted about it and the backlash from strangers was swift.

We have lived in almost a dozen states and my children have attended more schools than any other military family I know. But in all of these schools there are some things that are consistent. Generally, every single year my kids get two weeks off of school for Christmas and one week, give or take a few days, for Spring Break.

Today, the first Monday after New Years, many parents, including me, are going back to work for a full five days for the first time in two weeks. Kids are getting on school busses and teachers are preparing for these kids to struggle to pay attention for the first few days. Let's face it, those of us who took time off are still trying to figure out what day of the week it is and that doesn't even take into account that it's a new year and we're all thrown off!

To add to the twilight zone moment in our first year living in California, I was also "TDY" - which means I'm wasn't even home to make sure backpacks are ready, lunches are made and that at least my youngest, who is still in middle school, gets up with his alarm.

Now I swear I had checked the school district calendar and I swear I saw SOMEWHERE that he had school that Monday. I checked in with him and my husband that morning on the security cameras, talked to him by phone and was happy to see him head to the bus stop - only to see him 30 minutes later come back and say he wasn't waiting for the bus any longer because there were no kids and no bus to be seen.

So I checked the school website again and lo and behold it showed "HOLIDAY BREAK" written across the entire week. How did I miss that!

Now as a former journalist I can tell you that a three-week holiday break doesn't just happen. At some point someone thought that was a good idea and had to get it approved by the school district, which in some towns would make news and parents would show up for that meeting. And knowing how these things happen, that means they had to have a reason to justify this decision, some kind of story as to WHY this needed to be so. So I go into my city's Facebook group and I admit I messed up:

"Tried to send my kid to school today. This is our first January in California. Why do they have three weeks off for Christmas break?"

I figured a few parents would laugh, that many would understand my confusion but that hopefully at least one person would know the answer. And, of course, I should have known better.

Instead, the mob attacked.

"Is this a joke? Why don't you look at the school calendar?"

Thanks, what a novel idea. That won't tell me WHY though.

"Because teachers deserve a break."

Yeah, at no point was I saying they didn't!

"It's been like that forever, duh."

Um, yeah, but did you see the part where I said we just moved here?

And it went on. Strangers crucified me as if child protective services needed to come to my house and take my kids! I didn't screenshot the worst of the comments before deleting the post but at quick glance they were getting pretty horrendous. The amusing part is that in that same group people are asking for prayers for our military service members and their families while crucifying the very people they are praying for.

Three weeks of Christmas break isn't normal, my friends. Trust me, we've been in enough school districts to know. And then I received a private message from a stranger in the group:

Sorry for all the rude people responding to your post in Murrieta Talk. The reason Murrieta Unified School District chose to have their school schedule is to match those of Colleges and Universities thus making the transition much easier which I think is a great idea.

Ah there we go! An answer!

I also posted my twilight zone moment on my own Facebook and there the response was very different, reminding me that I have down-to-earth, nonjudgmental and realistic friends.

I tried to send my child to school but apparently he has another week off and I got my TDY travel dates completely messed up and I'm having to reschedule all my meetings at work because I won't be back in time like I thought I would. I don't even know what day or month it is right now or apparently what is happening in my life (insert face palm emoji) please tell me I am not alone about being lost in the twilight zone!

And my friends understood my plight.

I didn’t remember until last night that we are leaving on a mini vacay today, so ...

Well, I was up well before dawn—normal—and then I discovered I had poured half-and-half into Rocky’s bowl of dog food rather than in my coffee. 😯 Does that count?

God bless real friends who get it!

Look, moms, my point is, we ALL have these days and we will all have the judgement of strangers who are keyboard warriors pretending like they have it all together when I promise they don't. You are not a bad mom for making a mistake or asking a question or sharing your shortcomings. You are real. You are human. And I'd rather be surrounded by real moms any day of the week! We are all drinking cold coffee (or the LDS version of coffee), wondering if we can pull off that messy bun and trying to get enough sleep. We are all juggling 10 things, walking around like a hot mess and trying to keep our lives together!

These small things won't matter in a couple hours and probably don't really even matter now. They're something to look back on and chuckle about.

Chin up! You got this!

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