Do you remember those old cartoons with the chubby, naked man and woman that used to be in the paper every day, the caption would say Love Means… and every day it would say something different? Love Means…never having to say that you are sorry. Love Means…remembering to put the toilet seat down, etc. I loved those. As a kid the local newspaper, The Saratogian, would be dropped off on our front porch at 4:30 every afternoon (it was an “evening paper”) It was my job to get the paper and bring it to my mother so she could have a chance to peruse the pages before my father got home and read it cover to cover. I loved my job because it meant that I got to look at the little cartoon in the left hand corner and come closer to understanding what love really meant. This morning it dawned on me, I think I finally have the answer. To everything. The answer to what love means, the answer to being a good mom, the answer to being a working mom, the answer to being happy, successful and calm. One word. Flexibility. Don’t dismiss it immediately. I came to this conclusion this morning, after 10 days of excruciatingly painful days with a sick 4 year old. It seems like 7 years ago, although it was just a week ago Sunday, when my adorable son looked up from his Lego’s, his eyes troubled, and proceeded to vomit all over my new Christmas Jammies. Approximately 40 loads of laundry later, having spent 5 days fighting a fever of over 102, one 4am trip to the emergency room, 3 trips to the Doctor’s office, 4 trips to the pharmacy, and endless nights of holding him his sleep, this morning my son was finally going back to pre-school. Only a mom can appreciate how excited I was about this morning. I had plans! All of the plans that I had had for the previous nine days that had been sacrificed to my son’s care, plus new plans. I had to pick up a check from the school district and deposit it in the bank – We have to pay out of pocket for our son’s behavioral shadow at school, the school reimburses us, and then we turn around and pay for the therapy again. It’s expensive and means that literally thousands of our dollars are tied up in a delicate wash of paper work which has to move along in a timely fashion or more of our money gets tied up. For days when my son’s temperature was teetering on 104 it wasn’t as important, now that we are back in the land of 98.6, picking up the reimbursement check and getting it deposited was of paramount importance. I mentioned my plans to my husband last night and he looked at me and said “I’m off tomorrow, why don’t I take the boy to school, pick up the check and deposit it in the bank, and you take some time for yourself?” Ahhhhhhhhh.My head swirled with ideas – Time to myself – after 9 days of total stress, worry, intense nursemaiding, and practically no view of the outside world! Did I want to be practical and just get the kitchen clean, and catch up on work – or did I want to live dangerously and actually go outside and move among the masses, did I have time to haul my scrapbooking tote out of the cobwebs? My mind raced. Eventually I decided I would clean the kitchen, go for a nice long brisk walk and come home in time for my 10am conference call, “A PLAN, a mother’s favorite daydream.And a daydream was all it was. As the sun rose so did my husband’s temperature. Gone were my plans, now I not only had to get a 4 year old ready for
School, I had tissues and Tylenol to fetch. I ran my son to the car and hurried to his school doing the math in my head, I could drop him off, pick up the check, run to the bank and if all went well I could still get home in time for my conference call. My new plan.
Then as I was leaving the preschool, schedules fresh in my mind, I heard the teacher call me back. It seems that today they had plans to make quesadillas in class, a cooking project that would emphasis the letter Q and begin to teach the 4 year olds about fractions (quarters) – and since he hadn’t been at school yesterday, no one had been able to tell me that I would need to have a gluten free alternative for my son – or he’d have to sit out the lesson, while the other children ate their lesson and my poor little guy watched. These are fighting words to a mom. I watched my schedule dissolve again.
Okay, if I hurried I could get to the health food store and buy brown rice tortillas and hummus (We’re dairy free too) pick up the check, run back to the school and get home in time for the conference call. The bank would have to wait. It was a good plan, but that’s all it was.
The college student who was supposed to open the health food store was 10 minutes late to work, there was no parking in the school district parking lot, and ultimately what sank me was that I had to stop and go to the bathroom. Ahh, nature! So I was ten minutes late for the conference call. I was late, but hey, at least I had my answer : love means…..being flexible.