The phone rang the second I arrived at my desk this morning. I recognized the number and braced myself for bad news, as I always do. It was the daycare.
The emergency was this: I forgot our youngest child’s water shoes. Today was sprinkler day.
I thought about the shoes in the plastic bag hanging on the front door since last night, in anticipation of sprinkler day. I put them there… you know… so I wouldn’t forget them. To my credit, I did remember to dress him in his Superman shirt since the calendar indicated it was favorite t-shirt day as well. But you do not get points for the infinite details you get right, only marks against you for the screw-ups.
I am a sucky, sucky mom! said the bitch in my head.
I was told that I needed to have the shoes at the daycare by 10:45 or my child would not be able to participate in the scheduled event. The teacher on the phone then added, “Your child looooves sprinkler day, by the way.” Translation: You will ruin his day if you do not bring the shoes. With their father and I going through a divorce, our children have faced enough disappointments. I simply could not be the cause of this one.
So, after assuring my toddler’s teacher that I would be there in ample time to have him properly outfitted, I took a deep breath and snuck out of my office. The round trip would take an hour if I hurried, but that meant sacrificing my lunch and the valuable window reserved for errands. I would be wasting my time and a lot of gas just to deliver plastic shoes to a 3-year-old. Of course, I was also going to be very hungry this afternoon, too.
READ: Why We Desperately Need On-Site Daycare
When I finally arrived at the daycare I figured I would drop the shoes off at the front office, just past the secure door. But, perhaps out of habit or forgetfulness due to my perpetually exhausted state, I continued to the classroom. And then, just as I reached the door, I caught sight of the children through the window. There was our little boy, surrounded by his friends in a circle, arms flailing in the air, voice booming, completely uninhibited and carefree. He was having the time of his life.
And in that moment I found God. There is simply no other way to explain the peace that cloaked me.
The toxic email exchanges with my ex-husband disappeared, along with the financial woes and impending homelessness. For an instant all I saw was our boy, safe, happy, and thriving in our loving school with caretakers who give him what I cannot throughout the day while I am at work. In that precious moment I gave thanks for this gift and reminded myself that our children are my purpose.
READ: Mayim Bialik’s Tools for Divorce
Sometimes I wonder how different our children might be if we were still married. If I had a partner—someone to help with the housekeeping, cooking, and all matters child-related. Perhaps I would have more of these moments where I could be present and enjoy the children instead of merely surviving day by day.
This evening, following my epiphany in the school, I did something drastic. I blew off bath time and instead took the kids outside to collect fireflies, something I recall doing at my Bubbie and Zaydie’s house years ago in a small Nebraska town. Our kids were initially shocked that I suggested we do such a thing, but they were running around the yard in no time, jars in hand trying to catch the critters. I loved hearing them squeal in delight.
I am doing the very best that I can despite the CRAZY I face daily. I have to remind myself of this more often.
I forgot the damn shoes, and I am so glad that I did.