Contrary to the image of myself I seek to project and live up to, I am not always cool. Not always calm. Not always in control.Not always altruistic, certainly not Mother of the Year.

Yesterday I left my cell phone at home because I left in a huff. I take great pains to be organized, to fix my things, to not forget anything and to generally be in control. But put me off balance and I forget things. And when I forget things the left side of my head aches and I get upset. And I forget even more things.

I spent the morning making up for sleep that I sorely lacked, had a nice modest lunch of leftover escabecheng tilapia which I had cooked the day before, and reveled at how I was feeling like a weekend already because it was Thursday -- the bulk of my school and office work ends on Wednesday. I waited for Elmo and made him ham-and-cheese sticks: strips of sweet ham and cheddar cheese rolled in molo wrap. I asked our helper to cook because I had to be getting ready for work. But the frying was bad: too little oil, too strong flame, and the result was anything but the golden brown that I had envisioned.

Third grader Elmo, still in his uniform, took one bite and said: "It's burnt. I am not eating anymore." Funny how six words can throw me off track. How could a kid dismiss others' efforts just like that?

So I left in a huff and discovered that I had left my phone on the couch. It was too late to go back.

I survived that one. And then everything was cozy and cool and dim this morning. One call, two call, three calls to stand up and take a bath. Breakfast, which I had instructed our helper to cook (with a special request to please go easy on the flame), was clubhouse sandwich ham and egg and sliced cheese on three layers of sugar free wheat bread. I put them in the toaster and relished the crunch of toast bread being cut into small squares.

But the small kids take forever standing up and getting ready, and Elmo was toying with the aircon with his foot. When does one snap?

Is it when you see Elmo's bags in disarray, or when he asks if you were able to buy the pencils he had mentioned oh so casually the previous day? Is it when he forgets his water jug, or when you smell his hair that's supposed to be shampooed but still smelled of sweat? Is it when you learn he did not practice his violin when his recital is coming up, when he spent the previous afternoon playing outside instead of studying, when he loses his jacket or forgets his notebook?

Is it when the school service arrives and knocks on your door, and you realize they have no more time to eat the clubhouse because they're pressed for time, and you cannot sign their diary because they had misplaced the pens you just recently bought at the bookstore?

Mind you, that's only the ones in grade school. The teenagers are a different animal altogether. They have never ending needs and wants masquerading as needs. These are those who try to show you they can make it on their own -- no thanks, Mom, no need to fuss -- but who come running to you anyway for just the tiniest, most trivial things. They snuggle up to their significant others but every once in a while ask you to go out with them when you just want to save money and stay home.

They still want to squat in your room. Don't get fancy ideas, now. It's not you. It's the aircon. In the meantime, how can you move around and fix your closet at 2am?

I look at the clock and it's not even seven in the morning. I go back to bed and try to sleep, so that the stressful morning would seem more distant.

It is in these instances that I look forward to changing hats. I'll shed Mom and be Journalist for the rest of the day. What a relief! I just hope I can squeeze in an hour for my massage.

And then I'll be fine. Maybe I'll treat myself to My Week With Marilyn and Aveneto's Seafood Parmigiana and tall Roasted-Milk-tea-with-Pearl-normal-ice-normal-sugar over the weekend. I did turn 36 last week and I still had not gotten anything for myself.

Or maybe I need more scented oil to sooth my nerves. And then I will be myself again.