The thing about ugly crying is that it should be done in the privacy of your own kitchen, not in the grocery store.
Trying to keep it together somewhere in the canned goods aisle is like putting your finger into the leaky dike and hoping a miracle comes along soon. Like, pronto.
Thankfully, a People of Walmart passed by, pushing a cart full of chips and diet Pepsi, wearing yoga tights in my size without the benefit of having my general svelteness. If she could keep herself packed into those unashamed excuse for pants, then I could probably make it home without tears bursting from my face. Right?
So I kept my little ugly-cry fest between me, the pantry, and the cereal boxes and after about ten minutes – right on schedule actually – Edna Mode piped up.
She sits in a corner of my head just waiting for opportunities like this, which I attempt to keep at a bare necessity minimum.
“Pull yourself together woman!” she snapped, “You’re Elastigirl! What is this nonsense?!”
I heaved a great sigh.
“I’m only the worst mother ever! My son didn’t get into the college he wanted. My kids are going to grow up and be homeless and hungry because they didn’t get the job they needed because they didn’t get into the college they needed to because they didn’t have the grades they needed because they didn’t have a mom who sat with them every day in high school making sure they understood chemistry…”
I grabbed another tissue.
“I never even took chemistry! My kids are all smarter than I am! I should have hired a tutor in freshman year. I should have volunteered like I used to in their second grade classroom. I should have worked the snack bar during their volleyball games. I should have filled those college applications out myself, what if he missed his college acceptance because of a clerical error?!!”
I sank down on the linoleum, cradling a can of peaches.
“It’s all my fault. I wasn’t there for him, and now I have to keep him from being homeless and hungry by letting him live here forever!”
Edna watched me wail at this fresh and horrific thought, tapping her tiny foot.
“You have a lot of weird things in your head,” she started.
I glanced over at her, “Uh huh,” said my little sarcastic side.
“You place a lot of importance on this mothering job of yours,” she said.
“Luck favors the prepared,” I reminded her, “but I don’t know how I could’ve ever prepared for this job. I feel like I had his whole little life laid out at six months old, worked my tail off to give it to him, and suddenly the plot went off-script.”
“Just now?” asked E, “that’s some kind of record, darling.”
“I have no idea what happens next.” I looked at the floor in disgust, “Well, except mopping is probably next.”
Mom-guilt. There’s no other guilt like it.
“Words are useless! Gobble gobble gobble gobble!”
“I just worry that I messed something up back there somewhere and it’s too late to fix it.”
“Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost…history became legend, legend became myth…”
“Okay,” I said, standing up, “Who let Galadriel in here?”
“The world has changed,” she continued, “I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost.”
I hung my head, “Yeah, they aren’t little kids anymore. Maybe that’s part of this sadness.”
With a mighty heave, Edna kicked Galadriel out of our headspace.
“Never look back, darling, it distracts from the now,” she scolded.
A voice boomed out: “Remember Who you Are!”
Lion King? Really?
“You got to put your behind in your past,” laughed Pumbaa, as E herded the animals out.
“Look,” I said finally, “I just want all good stuff and no bad stuff for my kids. It’s a mom thing.”
“Well you can’t never let anything happen to him,” squeaked a tiny blue fish, “Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”
“That’s it!” I demanded, “Everybody grab an exit buddy, I have better things to do than wallow in the shallows.”
I put the peaches on the shelf and stretched my mind around yet another bend in the road for our family. I tried to imagine my Supersuit holding me together as years of growth shaped and reshaped us, much like a good pair of yoga pants. Ahem.
“Well, you’ll look fabulous anyway. Your suit can stretch as far as you can without injuring yourself and still retain it’s shape. Virtually indestructible, yet it breathes like Egyptian cotton.”
“Thanks, E,” I said as she faded away, “a yoga class is just what I’ll do next.”
“Don’t make me beg, darling, I won’t do it you know.”