Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You know those days, when you can't decide between bursting into tears, or punching someone in the face ?

I had a challenging day.

If I wasn't post-menopausal I would blame it on PMS - because that was just the kind of irrational, emotional, miserable black cloud I was under for most of the morning.

I know that people do this all the time, but for ME and MY KIDS, getting up and dressed and fed and lunches packed and out of the house by 7am is difficult.

When you have spent the previous night at the clinic - AGAIN - until almost 9pm, with a kid who had a high fever, it makes things that much harder. Because she has been on antibiotics for several days, and because she was feeling fine as long as the fever was kept down with Motrin, the doc said it was OK for her to go to school - and since I had work in the morning, that was good news. Or so I thought, until I realized how late it was, and how little sleep she would be getting.

And just as I anticipated, waking her up was not easy. I got up at 5:30. I made lunches, I showered, I dressed, I helped Max finish up some homework that he had been too burned out to finish the night before. I made him breakfast, ran a load of laundry, fed the dog, and went to wake Lucy.

Hah. Hah Hah. No.

Went back a few minutes later, after brushing my teeth and getting completely ready to go. Nope.

So I carried her, sound asleep, down the hallway. I put her on the couch. I coaxed off her PJs. I wrestled her into some of her clothes. I added breakfast to her lunchbox. It was 7:05. I ran to the car with kids and lunchboxes and backpacks and water bottles and my apron, and MY breakfast.

I dropped off Max, I drove to Lucy's school and waited for them to open the doors - then did the handoff, including setting her breakfast up for her. She was the very first kid, and she seemed very alone as I walked away and left her standing in the wide doorway watching me go. I felt sick. She is so little, and she didn't feel well, and here I was dropping her off as early as possible, so that I could go wait TABLES ? No. Just, no. Because she needed her momma. But, I had committed to this shift, and planned with the school to take her for this extra day, so I just kept walking. And felt really shitty about it.

I raced down the hill to work, the guilt just eating away at me, that she was eating breakfast alone in an empty classromm while the teacher was setting up for the day. I told myself that there were probably other kids there already. She would be fine. Just fine. I parked and walked in to the cafe, and discovered I wasn't scheduled to be at work for another 30 minutes.

30 minutes is a lot of minutes.

And, because I wasn't scheduled, I couldn't punch in.

And, because I wasn't scheduled to open, I would have to stay later - which would mean not being able to pick up either of my kids.

I wanted to cry. But mostly, I was mad. Mad that I had very specifically accepted the shift on the condition that I open, so that I could pick up my kids. Mad that I had asked, numerous times, before AND after the schedule was made, if I was opening, because I needed to pick up my kids. And I was assured that yes, I was opening, so I could leave in time. Mad because I specifically asked if the other waitress COULD stay for the later morning shift, because if she couldn't, I couldn't take the Tuesday shift they were trying to fill, and was told that she had been called, and had said that she would work the later shift. Mad that I had BUSTED MY ASS to get there, and I wasn't supposed to be there yet.

I could not have done more to make sure that I could accept responsibility for the shift. I could not have done more to be there on time.

And need I remind you, that my rule of thumb is "own it". If you accept a responsibility, fulfill it - or find someone who can.

So, with that said, I own it. I did not go and look at the schedule on Monday morning, to make sure that it was correct. I took my manager's word. And I should have just gone and checked the schedule myself.

Which is why I wanted to cry. I was so mad at myself for not checking. So mad at myself for not calling the other waitress and making sure that we were both OK with my working the opening shift. And so mad for taking the stupid fucking shift to begin with, when my family - my priority - would suffer for it.


I do not think I was a lot of fun to work with today. I was so upset. And sad. And furious.

I tried hard not to mis-direct my feelings. I tried to clarify to my co-workers that this had nothing to do with them, that I was just having a terrible day. I apologized - which just made me angrier. I felt like I was apologizing for something that wasn't my fault. But i kept apologizing. And of course, the more upset i got, the more mistakes I made, which made me MORE upset, and led to really pissing off my boss. I apologized to him, too. "I'm having a bad day." I said. "I'm sorry, I'm really trying to get it together." I flooded the bar washing out blenders. "I'm sorry" I said. "I am having a terrible day." The other waitress very kindly said she would be happy to stay later so I could get my kids. I thanked her, and was so grateful for her generosity. At the same time I was furious that I was affecting HER day, and HER plans, and had to ask for favors, when this was all someone else's doing.

Which brings us back to the fact that ultimately, it was my responsibility to go look at the schedule, and make sure I could fulfill the shifts as they had been assigned.

So the lesson in all of this is, if I want to punch someone in the face, it would have to be me. And I think self-flagellation is so 1800's.

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