It is four minutes to six. We are sitting at a blinking yellow stoplight, waiting to make a left turn to get Michael to his baseball practice. On par with the way things have been going in our jam-packed life, we are running late, coming off the heels of Grace's piano practice. I am watching the steady stream of oncoming traffic, feeling new muscles tense at the thought of running more and more behind as an opportunity to turn seems much more than just a minute or two away. If I could just get them there. My husband is waiting in the parking lot ready to take over, volunteering to help with practice and keep an eye on Grace while she plays with the other older siblings on the playground. And then I can go home and enjoy some solitary moments while making dinner.
All the while, the radio is being drowned out by the bickering coming from the backseat. By most respects, they are still small people; their voices should be small as well. But they aren't. They are big, and relentless, and grating, and those voices fight for the attention I should be paying to the road. Why are they doing this? Why are they continuing to do this after I have repeatedly asked them to stop? How quickly all the gratitude and appreciation heaped on me yesterday during Mother's Day fades away. They clearly have no idea.
They have no idea that while they are bickering about whether or not Grace failed to grab a lollipop for Michael from her piano teacher on purpose, I am fumbling in my purse for the pair of socks I grabbed for my sandal-clad son to wear with his cleats at practice...socks he doesn't even realize he needs. And cleats he needed to be reminded to bring.
They have no idea that while Grace was practicing piano, I was sitting in my car checking calendars, arranging for babysitters, trying to head off double-bookings with their activities, and worrying about a loved one's health.
They have no idea that while they were having an after-school snack, fighting about what game to play outside, and neglecting my "x amount of minutes until we leave" warnings, I was making sure uniforms were clean for the rest of the week, Grace's piano books were ready for practice, and Michael had what he needed for baseball. Like that pair of socks.
They have no idea that while being blinded by the sun, shuttling them home from school, I realized I had left my sunglasses somewhere on the grassy hill of the elementary school as I tried to video-record Michael's outdoor performance in his May ceremony. And in my haste to get to the ceremony on time, I had neglected to put on sunscreen, resulting in a rosy pink sunburn on my shoulders, which are not yet used to the warm sun of Spring.
They have no idea that the whole reason I was leaving at the last minute to get to the May ceremony was because I was trying to get to a good stopping point on a freelance transcription job I picked up for extra money. Extra money my husband and I hope to use to take Grace and Michael to Disney World.
They have no idea that I lost some precious working time this morning when I went up to school for a supposed event Grace's class was having, only to find out it had been rescheduled for two days later...and Grace had simply neglected to give me the note sent home over the weekend notifying parents of the change.
They have no idea that every morning when I check my schedule for the day, almost all of it is directly related to them. And now I'm sitting here, trying to make a left turn in rush hour traffic, and I am the only one concerned that we are going to be late for one of the their activities. Because right now, all they can seem to care about is hating each other, ignoring my pleas for silence, and that damned lollipop. They have zero appreciation for anything I have done for them today.
And then I see it. A small opening in traffic. If I can squeeze through and make this turn, we might just get to practice on time. But can I make it? Those cars are coming awfully fast. But this van is pretty stacked. But it is going to cut it close. But the sooner I get these kids to the fields, the sooner I can hand them over to my husband. And I can have time to myself. I think I can make it...
...But if I don't make it, time to myself may be all I have left. And when I check my schedule every morning from here on out, I might only be able to wish all of it could be directly related to them.
In an instant, getting to practice on time does not seem to matter. And neither does the fact that they are still arguing over a lollipop instead of marveling at the sacrifices I make for them on a daily basis. Because I still get to make sacrifices for them. And there is no way in hell I am going to let the last thing I ever hear from them be a pointless fight or the last thing I feel for them be extreme annoyance.
So I let the light turn red. I let the clock tick past six.
And they still have no idea.
But that is how real love stories go.
Originally published on www.areyoufinishedyet.com.
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