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Life as a Flaky, Disorganized Mother

Photograph by Getty Images

Do you know THAT Mom?

We all know her. "THAT Mom" forgets playdates, flakes on school volunteering and loses class drama show props the day of the play. You've seen her on the yard. You've encountered her on your committees. And you've all wondered, "Why can't she just get it together? Why does she bother at all?"

Well, hi. Nice to meet you. I don't think we've been formally introduced. I am THAT mom.

I didn't start out this way. I used to be quite reliable. In fact, I even held a decent job and was pretty darn good at it. But somewhere along the way I had kids, and then I had more kids. And it all fell apart: the organization, the eagerness, the reliability, the "Yes! I'm on it!" "I'll do it!" and "No problem!" Gone. All of it, gone. All that's left is a wavering wail of "I'll tryyy?"

I'm not proud of my behavior. I don't like forgetting popsicle sticks for the class project, losing talent show costumes and showing up at the end of the school day only to discover I missed "gardening." And I can tell you that each and every time it happens I wonder, "How did I let that happen?"

Where did my brain go? I used to be able to do so much with that solid mass of gray matter inside my skull. Now, I'm pretty sure you could suck it out with a straw. It might have to be one of those Boba sized straws, but if somebody was really committed, you know?

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I don't like being unreliable. I just don't know how other moms do it. Sure, I'm a single mom. But I really can't use that as an excuse. Frankly, I was like this before the divorce.

I didn't even realize how bad I'd gotten until the school auction last month. I had won two tickets to special VIP party before the auction — a party parents had to pay extra money to attend. When I arrived at the auction an hour late (it was my boyfriend's fault, I swear!), one of the moms spilled the beans that the parents there had actually wagered on whether or not I would show up. That's when I knew I had a problem.

I know what you're thinking, "Why don't you just put it in your calendar, idiot? Don't you have a phone?"

Yes! I know! And I do! I put everything down in my calendar. Unfortunately, I just never look at it.

For some reason, I view my calendar as a cheat-sheet. On some subconscious level, if I look at my calendar, I feel like I’ve failed. A little voice in my head says, “Calendars are for slackers, Sarah. People who can't get their act together. Not former executives like yourself. You have your act together. You don't need no stinkin' calendar!”

And now I have to admit I have a problem. Maybe I can find a 12-step program that can bring a busy mom back to a state of organization and reliability.

Yes. I know. That’s the stupidest thing you've ever heard. I agree. It’s time for an intervention.

I want to be reliable. I don't volunteer with the intent of letting people down. In fact, each and every time I offer to bring 40 cupcakes to class I think "I can totally do this!" Then, reality hits. I’m out of butter; my 6th grader’s volcano project is due tomorrow morning; my bed was calling me.” My point is: my intentions are honorable.

Finally, the other day I pissed off one more parent who was simply fed up with my flakiness. I could hear the sigh of resignation in her voice as I explained that the matching skirt she had bought for my daughter (who was dancing with hers in the school talent show) wasn't "missing," it was just buried somewhere. Or wait — maybe she still had it. Yes, that had to be it. I remembered giving it back to her to hold on to for the show, I think.

"I'll go get another one," she said. Pissed.

"No, No! I'll do it. Where should I go? Where did you buy them? I'm happy to do it."

"No!" She was adamant. Clearly not wanting to take any more chances on me messing up. "I'll do it."

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And now I have to admit I have a problem. Maybe I can find a 12-step program that can bring a busy mom back to a state of organization and reliability.

Perhaps I should start by saying it out loud. "My name is Sarah Maizes. And I am THAT Mom."


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