The early flush of spring break quickly wore off as life began to hit us hard. The evenings I had hoped to spend catching up with my son, lingering over warm vegetable-laden soups were quickly replaced with this: Kids, in order by age:Z,A,D,J
Who knew that the hairstylist that was running late on a Tuesday afternoon could cause such an avalanche of misfortunate timings. Including a lost pair of sunglasses, Z missing J’s performance and maybe even a C on a science exam.
Me: “Get in the car. You need to drive J and me to the high school – we need to be there right now!”
Z: “Where’s A?”
Me: “Getting his haircut. You’re going back there to pick him up when you’re dropping us off and pick him up there.”
J: “My shoes don’t fit.”
D & J are rummaging through the baskets trying to find the next size up pair of dress shoes. This is all that’s left – and we head out the door.
I hand Z my credit card to pay for A’s haircut as we pull out the violin and get out of the car among the throngs of students, in various sizes from 5-12 grade, all wearing black on the bottom and white on top, at the high school.
Z texts, “How soon before J plays?”
Me: “He’s done.”
I snap a quick photo of the orchestra and send it off to dad who is off on a business trip.
Z: “But I just got through dropping A off at home, and I’m on my way back to the HS.”
Z: “I can’t find a place to park.”
M: “Wait till I text you so that you can pull up right by the door, because I can’t walk that far, an account of my back.” “And by the way, we need to stop at Giant Eagle when we’re done here so that I can get donuts for D. He has snack for Bible Study tomorrow morning.”
About my back. On Friday, at a party, I mentioned to my trainer friend that I can’t understand why I’m getting slower, instead of faster, when I run. She frowned: “I know exactly what you need to do about that. I’m having the same problem – sprints!” She adds, this will be painful.
Armed with knowledge, and I few google searches that sent me to “How to sprint Livestrong” websites, I took off Saturday morning and ran as fast as I could for 30 seconds. Then, I walked for 1:30. I did this five times.
“Wow. That was quick! And 30 seconds isn’t that long!” But I was completely whipped, and out of breath, and I jogged home.
By Sunday evening, I could not walk. My back was in some kind of “traction” and I couldn’t even lift my arm to hold a pan of water. Around my entire back, I was in what felt like Braxton Hicks contractions – except they didn’t subside every 20 minutes.
Now, when I walk, I shuffle. Like an old lady. Sitting in those cushy auditorium seats for the concert was the most luxurious part of my day.
I send the Z and J to zoom through GE, picking up the donuts and the juice boxes, some radishes, clementines and flour – and we’re standing in the check out, and I hold my hand out to Z, “Credit card?”
Z: “It’s on the kitchen counter.”
Me: “And why is that? I just gave it to you for A’s haircut?”
I don’t even wait for an explanation on how it got on our kitchen counter in the less than 5 second drop-off he made earlier with A. I simply pull out that emergency card that you’re never supposed to use and pay for the groceries.
On arriving home, I realize that we have one less box of donuts than we need – but at 9:30 PM, I decide it’s not that important – because D is waiting for me to quiz him on the phases of the moon for his test tomorrow, and a bomb must have went off in the kitchen while I was gone.
So, once again, I am simultaneously, cleaning the kitchen, looking at science notes, making a new box of mac and cheese, because someone else is hungry now, what is a Gibbous moon again? And, Z is trying to find pictures of his girlfriend for the “memory book” he’s making for their upcoming 1 year and is asking me to help him sort them by week. I cannot remember what happened yesterday, let alone 3 months ago.
A call comes in from dad and wants to know who we’re all doing.
I cannot wait till bedtime. My back is in overdrive pain.
D: “Mom, you’re getting my science notes wet.”
But bedtime, for me, is still several hours away.
J: “Mom, remember, you have an open house with my class tomorrow to see my projects at 7:30 am.”
The flurry of the next morning is a blur. I drop off D with the donuts, and head to the elementary school for the open house with J. I see this self-portrait and my heart melts.
Just as J is getting ready to open the mac book and start his slideshow presentation, especially for me – an audience of one, I notice my phone says 7:45. This is exactly the moment I pull out of the driveway to get A to the high school every morning on time. I look at J and I say, “I have to go.” J is deadpan. He’s used to this.
Me: “I can come back when I’m done.”
When I arrive home to get A, he informs me that today is a late day, and he has an entire extra half hour before he’s supposed to be at the high school. Of course. How could I have forgotten?
I head back to the high school as quickly as I can, because I want to avoid the traffic jam that occurs at 7:55 when the moms are there dropping off the kindergartners. Despite the forever-and-a-day traffic lights at the crosswalk, I make it and even pull right back into the parking space I just left, and tell J I’m ready to hear his presentation.
This day turns out to be pleasantly sunny, and I realized I left my sunglasses in the cart at GE last night – (why were my sunglasses with me at night at the grocery store? Don’t even ask.) I call the store – and they are gone. They were very nice sunglasses.
I run errands for everyone, writing projects for clients, picking up the photos of the girlfriend, and answer texts from Z about how he’s going to build this scrapbook for her.
Yes, Z has a job for his spring break. If you want to know how this happens when your kid heads off to college and he needs cash, sign them up with a temp agency. They always need able –bodied kids to get merchandise out on the floor at Express.
Oh yes, I’m ironing the suit for the big night. A was the emcee for the talent show at the high school, so it was back to those cushy seats in the auditorium and my back was happy about that. A did a fabulous job, and I as I took video for his dad, my flash was on – which never happens. And I mortified Z by accidentally hitting the photo button instead of video, several times, and lighting up the auditorium.
He almost took my phone away from me.
I watch the kids perform, and I start to get sad. Have I failed as a mother, because Z and A would never preform like these kids in the talent show, and I know J and D never will either? They have talent, don’t they?
No one is hungry when I get home at night this time, thank goodness, but I still need to quiz D on homework, and the typical bomb did go off in the kitchen while we were gone.
But the photo project with Z turns out to be much more involved than I anticipated. The glue sticks are dried up, the paper isn’t cut straight – and I finally put J in charge of this project. He’s so good with this kind of stuff.
My memory is fading already, about the details and snafus. But I do remember earlier that day, interviewing the mom for the story I’m writing for a client: a relatively new mom – who thinks that when her kids are my age, her life will be easier – that she’ll have more free time. I loved the moment when I gave her a slight “cameo” of what my life is like now, and she seemed relieved, excited almost, at the prospect of several years down the road, after toddlerhood, that she would still be involved in the chaos of the life of her kids. This is a mom who gets it. Don’t you think that makes a great mom?