Whack-a-Mole with Shame

Yesterday was a hot mess. It started out pretty good. It was my oldest son’s fourteenth birthday and I made him a glorious cake. Money has been extra tight lately, so I didn’t get him much for his birthday. It felt good that I was able to make him a special cake. Mom guilt whack-a-mole….the struggle is real!

This is Devin’s birthday cake. It is four layers of fudge, pudding, and devil’s food cake covered in stabilized whipped cream, chocolate gnosh, candy bars, and Oreo cookies. It tasted as good as it looked……

So I spent most of the day herding cats- I mean kids, trying to get them to do their chores. That was especially difficult given that Devin was making use of his birthday hours to play as much Zelda, Breath of the Wild on the Wii U as he possibly could get away with. His brothers like to sit and watch. Eventually, I decided to let it go and let them enjoy the last day of spring break. All things considered Spring Break has gone pretty well. Ben has been helpful in the evenings, and I have kept people from killing one another. And the house is still standing.

Before I knew it, it was time to take Austin to his birthday party. I still hadn’t wrapped the presents for Devin’s party. I also hadn’t picked up the modest bouquet of balloons I was going to grab. Austin’s party was in the evening and the invitation had noted that we were welcome to BYOB, which I know means “bring your own bottle.” There would be drinking, but that hadn’t really registered. If it had, I would have realized is that this would not be a drop off birthday party. I also didn’t realize that the pickle parade would be be going on literally one street away.

We got off late. Whack-a-mole. I saw the pickle parade and thought of the STEM academy that had organized a truck or something. I was supposed to sign a form and drop Layne off for the parade and I didn’t do it. That reminded me of the event last weekend that I also forgot about. Two moles to whpack.

I gingerly made my way through the maze of closed off streets and hordes of pedestrians. Driving can be heaven for me. I actually love to get out of the house and drive. There are a few things that can turn heaven into hell; traffic and pedestrians. Ughhh! They are so small and vulnerable and they pop up in unexpected places like crosswalks. (Imagine that) I’m looking for other cars and there is an opening and then I start to drive only to slam on my brakes in terror. A pedestrian! My heart leaps into my throat and stays there. It’s awful.

I finally found the place where the party was. We were a half hour late. Whack the mole. My stomach dropped when I saw a bounce-house and a barbecue. It was an outdoor birthday party. I glanced back at my little guy dressed in a short sleeved red tee shirt. I hadn’t even considered that it might be outside! A cold front had come in the night before and it was chilly. With the stiff breeze, it was even colder. I was also dressed in only a light shirt with no jacket. Whack the mole. I reasoned that the sun was out and he would be playing, so maybe he wouldn’t get cold.

I found Emily, the mother of the birthday girl, and she greeted me warmly and gave me a hug. She was the only person I knew. There were dozens of kids running around. Austin was already running around the bounce-house in glee. The decorations were amazing. The venue, the cake, the decorations; everything was on point. This was the kind of birthday party parents give their kids around here. Not the sad affair I was putting on for my son. Whack-a-mole.

Parents were gathered on picnic tables with bottles of beer and glasses of wine. I had planned on leaving to go get ready for Devin’s birthday party, but how could I leave my son with a bunch of adults I don’t know who are drinking? My panic really started.

My religion doesn’t allow alcohol, but I have actually been to several parties where people are drinking and it really isn’t a big deal. The problem is, I am a solidly introverted wallflower when it comes to parties. My social anxiety comes out, and I am usually checking my watch until it’s over. Sometimes I can find a friend that I can chat with and that makes it a lot better. I had no such luck at this party. The adults all seemed to know each other. My anxiety was already through the roof at this point, and I was in no fit condition to try and make small talk with strangers. Ironically, the thought occurred to me that a beer might be just the thing to help me relax. Maybe even get warm! Too bad…..

So I shivered miserably for about twenty minutes. I tried standing over by the bounce house and watching the kids, then I thought I looked like a hover mom, so I sat down again and tried to distract myself with my phone. Then I felt guilty for being that Mom. Wack-the-mole. I was gradually getting more and more cold. I decided to go home to get jackets, but the host kindly offered a jacket for Austin. It was a little small, with a few ruffles above the pockets, but it would help. I smiled and thanked her, keeping my social mask in place. Honestly, the cold didn’t seem to bother him at all, but I was deflated at the thought that my excuse for leaving was gone.

For a while, I sat inside the small house/photography studio that they had rented for the event. It was a few degrees warmer and sheltered from the wind. Eventually, they brought out a humongous balloon bouquet with probably fifty foil balloons! It was a sight to behold. It reminded me that I didn’t get any balloons for my son. We were supposed to be starting his birthday party about now. Wack-a-mole.

Austin pulled me outside to admire the balloons as they were tied to the picnic tables. He was desperate to have one for his own. I tried to explain that the balloons were not his. They were Ava’s balloons. I started noticing that my nail beds were turning blue. I have a weird condition when I get cold. It is related to my anxiety, and when I get cold, the capillaries in my hands and feet spasm removing the blood and making them go numb. They get all nasty looking and splotchy yellow-white. It’s called Raynaud’s. It still freaks me out even though it happens a lot.

I called Ben. The phone went to voicemail. I called again. That is the signal we use when I am in crisis. He came right over, but I couldn’t wait. My skin was turning white. I told my little boy I had to go, but I would be right back. I ran to the van to get the blood and feeling back into my hands and feet. A few minutes later, Ben arrived at the party and I drove home. I’ve never been happier to leave a party in my life!

So, on my drive home I got a call from Layne. He and Devin had gotten into a fight over the Wii U. Layne was clearly jealous that Devin was allowed to play for so long and he was resentful. He had put himself in timeout, which is our strategy when he gets upset. I praised him for that. The only problem was, he had taken the gamepad with him, which Devin was upset about. I tried to get Layne to put the gamepad somewhere neutral, like my room. He refused to surrender it, and Devin refused to let him keep it. I told them I would be home in five minutes to help them settle it. I only hoped that I would be in time to prevent a fistfight. Sigh! This story has a good ending, but you have to read part two……..

To be Continued!

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