LEARN IS A STRANGE WORD IF YOU SAY IT OVER AND OVER TO YOURSELF
This day hurt.
The job came with its own good reasons attached. Helping. Earning. Learning again. Staying close by. Being of use.
I left for what must be better reasons.
And then, a note from my university that the financial aid I expected might not arrive. I’m on academic warning or termination, but the feds who dole out the money aren’t sure where I land on the scale of success to failure. No idea if I’m still in that yellow zone, or in the red. I’ll finish the incompletes from spring semester and maybe all will be well. Strike that. All will be well, but it took a few hours for the powers that be to tell me that I have a bit of hope. Hope is good enough for the end of this day. I’d misplaced it around three.
My small person wanted to stay with me today. She got “in trouble” yesterday at summer camp for getting out of the locker room too slowly. A complicated shirt was at fault—I could barely get the thing on her in the morning—and a counselor raised her voice to her. We are silly, but we don’t yell. Miss Malorie yells at everyone, and my dear small girl got an earful of her own for the first time at camp. She was shamed, and now she’s scared. I took her back today anyway, and she was careful to avoid the yelling counselor. She didn’t want to go, but my need to earn money trumped her desire to dodge random raised voices.
The pragmatic mama wanted to point out, “That’s life, baby. You will get unfairly yelled at, now and then.” I did say a version of those words, with added sympathy at her shamed feeling. She works so hard at being good—too hard, sometimes. I’ll bet Miss Malorie got yelled at a whole lot when she was small, or she would know better than to raise her voice to a child in a locker room, vulnerable and struggling and frustrated with a shirt that looks really cool but causes wardrobe malfunctions.
I landed in the crosshairs of a situation that I don’t really comprehend, but I removed myself with sadness and purpose. Grownups have that privilege, most of the time. Lesson: I am strong enough to jump when the high-rise is smoking. Don’t wait for the flames to lick my toes, even if I might easily convince myself that it’s really just a barbeque on the third floor.
I’m shamed by failing to maintain a pace I had set, but that’s life, baby. I didn’t drop that class when I should have, when my mind was spinning with change and strangeness and fatigue. Lesson: I am fallible in big, fat, life-altering ways. I’m tangled in my complicated shirt right now. Don’t wear that again, dumbass. It’ll get done, this degree, and when I finish, I’m going to celebrate from the nursing home if I have to.
I want to be with my daughter when she needs a fucking break, but I can’t always, so I planned a playdate with a friend for tomorrow and a sleepover at home for tonight, and no one will yell if she doesn’t move fast enough from point A to point B. Lesson: I am her first and last resource, so when she calls for help, I have to do what I can to help her navigate this big world. She is small, but she matters the most, and everyone needs a break now and then.
Telling my people about my hurtful day eased the shock and sharpness. I have resources, too, who hug me when I stop by on a moment’s notice and who answer the phone when I call in a panic and who say yes to moving a little bit backward when I had thought that forward was the only option. Four, in just one day, these people of mine, grabbed me by the collar and shook in a most loving way. Lesson: don’t hide away when the bad stuff challenges me to a staring contest. Ask, and hugs happen, the real kind with words of love and reassurance.
Today hurt me, but I’m learning my lessons.