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.
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.”
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.