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Mistake 1: The Alarm
I reflexively hit STOP instead of snooze as my phone’s alarm starts playing next to my head. It's my first mistake of the day. After years and years of getting up for work, getting my kids ready for school, getting to work, getting back home, making dinner, taking the kids to a variety of practices, helping them get homework done and fitting more work in before bed, I have enough experience to know that I can allow myself 3 mistakes a day. I cannot afford anymore. To have made a mistake this early in my day, well suffice it to say, it‘s just a bad start.
30 minutes after I have shut off my alarm, I wake with a start to hear my husband raising his voice in the kitchen in an attempt to peel our children away from their tablets and ascertain what they want for breakfast before leaving for school. I sit up in a panic. What time is it? It takes a moment for my mind to clear as the day’s agenda unblurs itself in my sleepy brain. I grab my phone and look at my calendar. Oh no! I have a project presentation for work at 8:30 and I remember thinking that I need some extra prep time so I have to get my daughters to school early.
I fling myself out of bed and join my family in the living room. The kid’s morning routine is out of control. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” I ask my husband accusingly.
“I thought it would be nice to let you sleep in a little,” he says with a defensive look on his face. I’m still trying to wake up and immediately feel bad for having a tone with him. He is well intentioned, but the morning routine is not his forte. I take over getting the kids ready and he helps as much as he can, but with an attitude, before he has to go get ready for work. I leave the kids in front of the tv while I quickly throw myself in the shower, put on my work clothes, elect to skip coffee, grab backpacks and yell at the kids to get in the car.
We aren’t early to school. My daughter is lucky not to be getting a late slip. I had hoped to get 30 minutes of prep time in before my presentation, instead I get to the office just in time for the meeting. I don’t get the resounding reaction of approval I am looking for after I present my plan. Instead, other ideas are requested and we have another meeting scheduled in 2 days. I am asked to work collaboratively with someone else. I don’t mind working in teams, but instead of being able to efficiently delegate out duties for a project, now there is a committee. I am all about democracy, but it's not a very efficient structure for completing a work project.
Mistake 2: The Muscle
In my personal office I see that I have multiple messages waiting for me on my various chat applications. But I ignore them for the moment. I’m frustrated. My head is in my hands while I sit at my computer. It’s not a good look. We have a modern office space where all the office walls are see through soundproof glass. None of my stress relieving techniques are working. It’s 11:30 and I decide to go work out. Working out has always been a good outlet for me. Some heavy breathing and sweat will take my mind away and allow me to refocus. I was getting nothing done and there is just so much to do.
After running a couple miles on the treadmill, I decide to lift some weights. I will push the stress out of me. I am on my third set of crossover pulls nearing my last rep. My body is tired and I am not paying enough attention. I can’t stop obsessing about the meeting. Instead of letting myself focus on the workout and letting the normal routine do its job, I take my frustrations out on the heavy stacks of lead, angrily pulling at them. I suddenly feel an enormous muscle pull slash its way from the top of my right shoulder blade down towards my spinal column. The pain is tremendous. My second mistake of the day and the afternoon just started.
I arch my back and stagger around the weight room drawing the attention of everyone else in the gym. The pain makes my eyes bulge and I feel nauseous. I make my way into the locker room and sit roughly on the bench in front of my locker. I am stamping my feet on the ground as tears streak my face. I would probably be doing a lot more kicking if I could, but it’s everything I can do just to sit up straight. I manage to shower and fortunately I have some acetaminophen in my bag along with menthol deep heat patches that I carefully apply.
Mistake 3: The Accident
I hate showing weakness in the office. Hate it. I get sympathetic looks from my colleagues when they notice my obvious discomfort. My boss eventually knocks on my open door and recommends I go home for the day. I tell her that the painkillers are working and I will be fine. She tells me that it's ok and that she needs me at my best next week, passively insisting that I leave. I really hate this now. I put on a face, thank her and pack up to go home. At least I am going to miss rush hour.
I don’t bother using the GPS on my way home since I know the drive really well, but I should have. I am stuck in highway traffic due to a semi rolling over. If I had just kept the navigation app open it would have told me there was an accident and provided me an alternate route. Now I am stuck in my car, in pain and still obsessing about how bad the meeting went this morning. I think back at my behavior and feel embarrassed by how I reacted in front of my co-workers. None of them probably like me. I am too particular about details. I can only imagine what they say about me when I am not around.
The traffic is of course stop and go and I am looking at my phone. I hate texting and driving but we are moving so slowly that I decide it's ok. I could just put in my wireless earbuds and listen to something, instead I am doing Google searches for my work project. Through my peripheral vision, I think the car in front of me moves forward. It didn’t. I hit my gas too hard. I have the driving sensors switched off, so no automatic stopping. I plow right into the back of the car, not at a high speed, but enough to cause some serious fender and grate damage. The other car is a new beamer. My third mistake, and it's a major one.
Careful of my back, I get out of my car. The driver I hit is already out of his car and upon seeing me rolls his eyes and shakes his head. Whatever that means. We exchange some heated words along with our insurance information. The police come and I am delayed enough that I don’t think I am going to be on time to pick up the girls from practice. If I wasn’t having a bad day, I am now officially having a bad bad day. I call my husband to let him know that I need him to pick up the kids. He can’t. He is still busy at work and sounds annoyed at me. He says he is sorry I am having such a bad day before we disconnect.
Mistake 4: The Outburst
Both my daughters are quietly angry with me in the car after I pick them up late from soccer practice. I don’t feel like apologizing and so I am quiet in return. I want them to ask me about my day and care that my back obviously hurts. They are focused on their own problems though. When we get home I am short with my girls telling them to get their homework done before they start with Instagram or video chatting with their friends. They give me annoyed looks like they don’t want me to tell them what to do. I am on the brink of bursting out at them in frustration, but I manage to walk away instead.
I preheat the oven, pick some frozen pizzas out of the freezer and throw them in the oven. I can’t handle a complicated dinner and I don’t care who has a problem with it. I finally get down to my bedroom. I apply some new heat patches and take some long past due painkillers. I find a heating pad, sit down and close my eyes to try and relax. After a while, I hear my husband come home and he is shouting right away. I hear the oven door bang open. I forgot about the pizzas. I walk out to the kitchen to find smoke covering the ceiling, 2 super burnt pizzas and a look on my husband’s face like I am the dumbest person on Earth.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” I yell/ask him.
“If you can’t handle making dinner, then just don’t do anything. I could have just ordered something,” he says to me.
“You know what!” I yell loud enough for anyone in the house to hear. “You can take those 2 burnt pizzas and shove them!”
I turn and stalk away. My 4th mistake of the day. The one I just can’t afford. I love my family. It’s not right to take out my frustrations and anger on them. They need me to be a leader. Be a mother.
I sit back down in the chair in my room. My husband follows after me shortly afterwards. He sits on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands. He looks like I must have looked in my office earlier in the day after my presentation went so poorly.
“This is just happening too often,” he says to me.
I can’t afford 4 mistakes.