Yesterday, I was neither a great diabetic nor a great mom. But I suppose I should have seen that coming.
It was the second day of a recital weekend for my two dancing daughters, and given that I hadn’t done such a bang-up job managing dress rehearsal madness earlier in the week, I guess backstage mommy excellence was bound to elude me.
But let me set the stage that is May and June. Normally loving, patient parents are simply overloaded with end-of-school and activity wind-down events. From class picnics to exams to recitals to championship games, most of us just strive to get through it without a chardonnay drip.
Last week we had an exam/class picnic/2-day dress rehearsal combo pack. Because tired, overscheduled children make for cranky, meltdown-prone children, parents must press pause on their jobs/needs/lives to manage and maintain portable study guides, snacks, and costumery. And I handled all of that pretty well…initially.
Fast forward to hair pin #78 in my second daughter’s bun on Day 1 of dress rehearsals when I thought the air conditioning had stopped working because I was suddenly covered in sweat. I looked at the clock but couldn’t see the numbers clearly. I asked my 11 year old to get my glucose meter while taking a deep breath and estimating that I still had close to an hour before we had to leave for the 20 minute drive to dress rehearsal. She brought the meter and said “Mom, make sure you’re ok to drive because dress rehearsal starts in 20 minutes.”
What? 20 minutes? Unfortunately, the clock had not stopped to account for my low blood sugar confusion. Seeing that my sugar reading was 52, I grabbed a bag of jelly beans and started swallowing. (By the way, when you avoid sugar as a way of life, and then down three handfuls of it, you pretty much want to vomit. But vomit doesn’t match red sequins, so I kept my nausea to myself.) I then proceeded to make it through dress rehearsal without moving from my chair or having so much as a conversation with other moms I’ve known for years—otherwise known as “my friends.”
In my attempt to avoid a second sugar crash performance, I loaded the recital bag with snacks and drinks, which was an effective – if not terribly nutrient-rich – strategy. Dashing from daughter #1’s backstage room to daughter # 2’s backstage room throughout Friday and Saturday’s three recitals, I was silently bemoaning the fact that other mothers seemed so…together.
They had made time to do their hair (I couldn’t find that). They had made time to put on makeup (au natural for me). I’m sure they hadn’t broken their vegan diet commitment that day because they were together enough to pack a decent lunch in advance, and weren’t forced to scarf down a third of their daughter’s Italian cold cut sub.
They seemed to tend to their daughters’ needs with ease and sail into the theater with smiling, relaxed grace. I, on the other hand, huffed and puffed and sunk into an audience chair, breathless, exhausted and disappointed in myself.
And then I saw Maureen. Maureen is my friend that I see just once a year during recital time. When our daughters were in pre-school together, we saw each other far more frequently, but now different schools, different dance classes, and different schedules have limited our time together. It is one of the annual dance traditions I cherish most, seeing my Maureen, because there is an effortless beauty in her manner and a loving honesty in her voice that everyone should have in their lives, if even just once a year.
We had a quick chat on opening night, and then spoke just before the third and final performance of the weekend. It was at our second meeting that I felt compelled to lament my ineffectiveness as a supportive dance mom. She nodded in all the right places, and reminded me that all moms feel that way when running hither and yon in the names of their children. And then she gave me the greatest gift.
She told me about a conversation she’d had with her husband after seeing me during opening night. She had told him that she had been so happy to see me, because she counted me as her “feel-better friend.” When he asked her what she meant, she replied, “You know that person who just lifts you up and inspires you, and when you walk away, you just feel like a better person for having been in their company, and you want to go out and do better and be better and accomplish more? That’s who she is.”
And then the stress and self-loathing just kind of drifted off. I began to see that my daughters felt perfectly supported, and that my fellow moms were perfectly supportive of me. No one cared if I had mascara on, if I had flat-ironed my hair or if I ate a perfectly vegan diet that day. My failings were simply all in my head.
So, there among the recital rubble of bobby pins and sequins and saved recital tickets for the scrapbook, Maureen reminded me of my worth.
I need to remember that worth is directly linked to wellness. When we let go of our worth, even temporarily, we let go of our wellness. And knowing that we have value is as critical to being a diabetic mom as is any insulin.