A letter to the Joggers Who Saw Me Go Crazy

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Dear Joggers from Last Week,

I know you were having a leisurely run that morning, probably enjoying those precious few moments of freedom before your intense day of mothering began. And I know the sweet silence of morning was broken by a crazed, screaming lunatic in her backyard, yelling like a banshee at her kids at eight o’clock in the morning. I’m sure you didn’t mean to stop and stare, but you couldn’t help it. I mean, who does that? Most people are still asleep that time of day, and here she was, already yelling at her kids, and the day had barely begun. You probably shook your heads, thinking, I’d never do that. You probably grumbled to each other as you continued on your way, whispering comments about “child protective services” and “nurturing.”

Luckily, you probably didn’t know that mom, disheveled and wearing her pajamas, was the author of a parenting book. Whew. How embarrassing would that have been?

I don’t blame you, ladies. I’ve done that before, too–watching crazed parents screaming at their children at the grocery store, the park, and even in stopped cars at an intersection. Even though I knew they loved their kids (hey, each family member was proudly displayed as a stick figure sticker character on the back window, so that proves it), it always made me think, Wow. I’d never do that!

So when this incident happened the other day and you walked away, shaking your heads, I just wanted you to know what you missed. You didn’t know how little sleep I’d gotten the night before, and the night before that, and how the kids were awake and roaming the neighborhood in their pajamas at six o’clock to “take the dog on a walk.”

You didn’t know that my two-year-old (also called Houdini) had gone missing because the older kids left the gate unlocked, and of course he’d been found playing and running in the street. (At least he wasn’t naked this time.) You didn’t see the stress of work, deadlines, and the looming financial disaster that I carried that day, clenching my jaw inside as I forced a smile. You didn’t hear the sassy remark from my daughter when I asked her to come inside and do her chores. And you certainly didn’t see how I cried harder than she did, or the awesome breakfast I made them, our lovely family trip to the park later (which miraculously, went very well–even with the dog). All you saw was that one moment in time, for which I will forever be branded in your minds. And boy, I bet it was entertaining.

I hope you enjoyed it. But above all, I hope you said, “I’d never do that,” to each other. Because honestly, I believe those words are worse than breaking a window or walking under a ladder, because they don’t just bring bad luck–they ensure that yes, you will do that–and you’ll probably have two mommy joggers walking by when you do.

Because that’s the way the universe works.

Sincerely,

Me

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