cracking the window

~

I talked with a dear friend yesterday. She’s what my grandfather would have called a high-powered businesswoman. She has a big job with a big title. And another big job with an even bigger title – Mom.

I told her about the clothes. I needed to vent and I knew she’d get it. She’d know that even though it sounded small it didn’t feel small at all.

And she did. She got it completely.

She told me that she was talking to another friend of ours recently about the danger of this high-wire balancing act that we all perform daily. Another high-powered businesswoman who works crazy hours, travels like Carmen Sandiego and also holds dual titles.

Friend A was lamenting to friend B that she felt like time was slipping away. That she felt like she wasn’t seeing enough of her kids. That they were growing up so fast and she felt like she wasn’t there the way that she wanted to be.

I talked right over her.

“Oh my God, A, TIME,” I said, “Yes. It’s like a window is closing. I can feel it. It’s happening with both of them, of course, but with Katie it’s just stunning all of the sudden. I swear it’s like time-lapse photography. I’m watching her change in front of my eyes and it’s like I can SEE THE WINDOW CLOSING. It’s terrifying. The time is just disappearing.”

My friend told me that she had made a decision. She was going to mess with her schedule to find a way to drop her kids off at school once a week. She’d stay late that day. Reschedule meetings. She’d figure out how to make it work.

I told her I was proud of her. I knew how much it took for her to draw that line in the sand. And then I sighed. I don’t have that option. It simply isn’t possible in my particular job.

I woke up this morning thinking about my friend. Our conversation. The window. TIME.

I picked up the phone.

I called my colleagues and told them that I was taking a mental health day. “I have plenty of vacation days,” I said. “I’m using one.”

~

I ambled into Brooke’s room. She looked up at me and said what she says every morning as I head out to work.

“¿A dónde vas? ¿A tu trabajo?”

I smiled. “Nope. Not today, baby. I’m taking the day off.”

“Off?” she repeated.

“Yup, off.”

She looked down at the floor, processing the change.

“So no work?” she asked. “Do you have it today?”

“Nope. I don’t have it today. Today, I’m going to take you to school. What do you think about that?”

“Good,” she said.

And with that, we headed down for breakfast. When we hit the steps, she stopped. “I will do a monkey back ride!” she said. “You would squat here.”

I happily obliged and carried my girl down the stairs.

Katie was confused. “What are you doing home?” she asked.

“I took the day off,” I said, feeling smug.

Her eyes lit up. “Mama! No way! Will you drive me to school? It’s cold and I hate walking in the cold but Daddy never drives me cause he says I have to walk but if you’re here you can take me cause he can stay with Brooke and .. will you, Mama? Please?” She didn’t stop to breathe between the words.

“Sure, baby,” I said. “I’ll drive you to school.”

“Awesome! Oh and then you can pick me up after my audition today!!”

The window was cracking open.

Just a little bit, that damned window was cracking open.

We got to school early. “Mama, please, please, please can I not go in yet?” she asked. “Can we stay in the car and hang out a little?”

I drove by the school.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“In a circle,” I said.

I asked her if she’d like to sing her audition song. She did. I pulled over and clapped with everything I had as she came to the end. I meant it. It was amazing. She is amazing. I told her to break a leg. “Mama, with my track record, that may not be the best thing to tell me.”

We laughed.

~

It’s almost time to take Brooke to her school. She got ready early and asked for a few minutes on the computer. In between every sentence that I type, I’m playing my part in a script.

Apparently Farmer Flippy told everyone to keep the gate closed, but Pooh opened it up and the animals got out. I’ve been Farmer Flippy, Pooh, and well, me.

We will leave for school in ten minutes. I will walk her in. I will look at the other kids and see what they’re wearing.

And I will revel in the crack of light coming through the window.

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25 thoughts on “cracking the window

  1. I’ve been home a lot more than I’m used to this fall, for reasons I did not choose (furlough). Thanks for helping me see that I should be appreciating this as an opportunity to spend quality time I wouldn’t otherwise have with my kids.

  2. I don’t have a high powered or well paying job. I just went back to work about a month ago after 4 years of being a SAHM. I don’t work full time, but close. I do work nights and weekends. I get to be home with my little one days, but it seems lately like my only time with Cymbie is driving her to therapy. My husband and i? Passing ships. I’m gone on the weekends for most of the day. We’ve lost what family time we had.

  3. I am glad you had this. So glad. My window seems to be painted shut and the effort to open it super-human. My (male, FWIW) boss holds over my head the fact that when we did a training in which we were encouraged to be honest, one of my “values” was “family is as important as work” (paraphrasing here). They are 16 and 13 now – the 16 year old can drive herself but good God I wish there had been so many more moments together over the years (even though my two fought like cats and dogs in the car). I am rambling but it’s worth the effort to be there. Juntos. (Does Dora say that? If not it will sound cryptic, but it means “together” in Spanish.)

  4. Oh My… Simply Stunning… GREAT for YOU!!! And your sweet girls. I get the big luxury of living and working full-time in small town America which means I can take my G to school every day. It really is very special and I realize how lucky I truly am. My mom never got to take me school. She worked full-time too.

    ENJOY your fresh air and the light through the cracked window. Every mom deserves it.

    Joy and Blessings today!

  5. Ah. There is a flip side. My parents both worked, and seemed rather resentful of the needs of their kids; didn’t seem to like us. So, I did the opposite, and have been home with kids since I got pregnant with the first, who is now in college. My youngest is in middle school, and only needs me for those few hours after school and homework. I’ve been out of work so long, I can’t even get a volunteer job anywhere! And I have a Master’s…but not enough to fill my days. When your little ones have flown the coop, you will still be relevant. Still have a purpose and a career. That perfect balance point between work and home? No idea where it is!

  6. How wonderful for you and the girl! Proud that you took control and made this your priority for today. It is so hard to balance it all and you do such an amazing job of it. I needed your reminder of how lucky I am to get to take my kids to school each day and spend time in the building whenever I want to. Sometimes it is easy to forget our blessings until a friend reminds us. Enjoy this day and every moment you get in the fresh air of the window you threw open!

  7. I’ve been at home with my kids since my first was born. It’s part of why we live where we do – so we can afford me being home. I enjoy it immensely – wouldn’t have it any other way, but it is tiring. Gathering them up, getting them through the organized chaos that is our every morning, getting them out the door and taking them to their schools and therapies….Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a blessing that time really is. Thank you for the reminder.

  8. Wonderful!! Mental Health days are so very important! You deserve the break and a good breeze of fresh air through that open window :)

  9. Birth to school age -60 months. School starting to middle school -72 months. Middle school to high school -36 months. High school to college – 48 months, and then for all practical purposes the baby is gone. Out into a new world and out of your house. Each and every day matters… My baby was born yesterday and today she has babies of her own…I miss the time.
    Love you,
    Dad

  10. When I was ten, my mom lost her job. It was pretty hard for her and the family but the 18 months when she didn’t work are my happiest childhood memories. I’m sure your kids will remember this day when you took them to school when they grow up!

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