Today is payday. Today is payday.
This is what I kept saying to myself as my card was declined for the second time at the register. My $200 worth of groceries had already been bagged in my reusable shopping bags. So it wasn’t just a matter of making a run for the car with an apologetic look. If I was to leave empty handed I’d have to wait for all the groceries to be un-bagged too. I could feel my hands start to shake. Then it happened, the baby started crying. Loudly. Five people suddenly appeared out of nowhere and lined up behind me. All the while I am racking my brain as to why my card isn’t going through. It’s ok, I tell myself, just write a check – you have the checkbook. Write a check and get the fuck out of here. I hastily fill out the check lines, of course I didn’t have my own pen and had to ask the cashier. I hand over the check, anxious to leave and put the baby down for a nap at home and assign my five year old quiet time activities. The cashier asks for my ID. It’s not in my wallet. Why isn’t it in my wallet? Where else could it be? It’s supposed to be in my wallet. Thats when I feel the tears start to well. All the sudden there’s three more people in the line behind the five that had magically manifested. All witnesses to my crumbling sanity. I look at the cashier and say, “I can’t find my ID, I have another card with my name on it.” Of course that’s not going to cut it. I call my husband and hastily insist he needs to leave work and come to the store. At this point I have picked up the crying baby in a last ditch effort to soothe her while I panic. I set the diaper bag down and start to empty it’s contents on to the floor right there in the queue in a desperate attempt to do anything but cry in front of ten strangers. I find my ID as soon as my husband appears. Which makes me feel worse because now I have interrupted his work day with my nonsense. I finish checking out and dry my tears and exit the store as quickly as is humanly possible. I have never wished so hard for an invisibility cloak in my life.
I get that worse things can happen. Will happen. Have happened. There are very few things I hate in this world. I hate unloading the dishwasher, I hate putting away folded laundry, but what I hate the most is public displays of emotion. The overwhelming feeling of needing to cry only becomes stronger when I am out and exposed. Trying to hold it together surely only makes me fall apart faster. I’m sure I am not the only one. I know I’m not alone. Being a mom pushes you to the edge and then some. Even though everything was fine I still couldn’t shake the lingering feeling of guilt and disappointment.
There’s no happy ending. I’m sure I learned things. I’m sure it’ll happen again in spite of that. Maybe not in the same way or at the same place. Vulnerability is the hardest thing we do as humans. Feeling raw and reeling is hard to recover from.