I have a lot of mugs and nowhere to put them because (as my younger daughter so aptly put it) “we have a lot of space but no room in this house.” These mugs are leftover pieces of my life, (profound, I know), complete with porcelain chips, broken handles and corny sayings like “You’re Doing Great!” “Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken,” and “Super Mom.”
That last one’s my favorite. I have no memory of where it came from or who gave it to me, and I don’t know what I would ever do if I stumbled into the kitchen, caffeine starved and bleary eyed and my mug had suddenly disappeared itself. Like life without liquor or Lauren Graham, there are some things I’d rather not consider because that mug and I, we’ve been through a lot together. I mean that mug, out of all my mugs, has been around the block and back again, and still comes looking for a refill.
And I certainly needed a refill that morning because, um, I wasn’t doing great. I was doing the opposite of great. I was failing … doing 50 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone on my way to an hour and change of my life that was quite literally nonrefundable all while lecturing my daughter on the importance of safe driving (oh, the irony) just minutes before her road test.
I was a little tired, I guess, and the weather was a little muggy and I hadn’t slept much the night before. Not that I didn’t enjoy Junior’s rousing rendition of “Old MacDonald” (two hours too long of the E-I-E-I-oh, my holy sow, I swear by 4 a.m., I was ready to moo-move him into his own bed, in his own room where he and that little toy tractor could party till the cows came home.)
But, now no one was partying. No one was singing and while there’s no use crying over spilled coffee, (credit: massive pothole, somewhere on Sturges Ridge Rd.), there might have been some use in crying over a failed road test.
Isn’t it hard enough being a teenager? The acne, the hormones, the incessant, nagging feeling that if only Jacob Dylan would just realize that you and you alone are indeed his “One Headlight” Cinderella, you could totally happily ever after it and have his babies in Brooklyn? Portland?… Oh, right. That was me at 17.
My point is that this whole driving test thing, this whole clammy hands, did I fill out the paperwork right, does this outfit make me look responsible or more like a 1960’s airline attendant … is just one more opportunity to fail.
So I have to say, I’m not entirely sure where I stand on this but considering I’ve failed like, an excessive amount in my life, I feel like if I didn’t at least espouse to my children the idea that all of this struggling, all of these little potholes in my path … doing 50 in a 35 mile-an-hour zone, spilling coffee all over the paperwork for the DMV, trying not to cry over the fact that I will never be the future Mrs. Dylan and Milo’s still very much ghosting me, are just opportunities for change? Growth? More caffeine? I’d be a hypocrite and probably still dressed like a stewardess.
I was thinking about all this big life stuff while my poor daughter sobbed on the sidewalk, while the poor driving test guy (who I’m sure gets nowhere near enough pay) tries and fails to console her, while my husband called in somewhat of a panicked state that my younger daughter decided somewhere between me pulling out of the driveway and trying to half listen to road test retake options, she could not, would not, you can go to hell in a handbasket and listen to Old MacDonald along the way go to school because um, she broke a nail “and do you even have any idea how incredibly painful acrylics are when they chip? And what will people think if just one nail is missing? What will they say? A missing nail!” she screamed in the background.
My husband hung up and after what felt like a very long time, maybe 40 years, I realized that despite all of the porcelain chips and chipped nails, despite all of the spilled coffee and questionably wasted tears, despite the fact that sometimes you just get the wrong guy at the wrong time (very much just referencing the DMV here) and despite and maybe also because I’m very much not Super Mom, my mug is still mostly full (for today, anyway) and I’m happy to have failed.
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.