Tuesday afternoon, two Tuesdays ago. I was picking up my younger daughter from preschool.
“Mommy!” Anna exclaimed, opening up her backpack to show me her latest arts and crafts projects. The paint on one of them was still a little wet; a feather was falling off another one.
“How about we look at everything at home?” I suggested, stuffing the masterpieces back in. Then I overheard some of the other moms talking about the upcoming field trip. “Field trip?” I repeated, looking up.
The moms smiled at me.
“What field trip?” I tried again, adding, “I may have missed a note…”
One of Anna’s preschool teachers shared with me that the next class (there were three classes left, before the end of her school year) would take place at a local lake. The kids would hike around the lake, playing “I Spy” as they looked for birds, fish and other wildlife. A picnic would happen afterwards—and every child needed a parent to accompany them.
(That would be me.)
Anna beamed at me. “I have my very own field trip, Mom!”
I smiled weakly. “Mm-hmm, I just found out,” I said. “Yay.”
“I may have missed a note…”
Because I had been planning to write, as I do when both girls are in school. I was thisclose to finishing a story, and submitting it to a magazine. I would just finish it a little later than hoped for, I told myself, as I buckled Anna into her car seat. No problem.
Thursday morning, the day of the field trip, arrived. Stanton had headed out the morning before for a business trip. So that morning was a little more hectic than usual, as I packed up everything Grace, my older daughter, needed for kindergarten that day and gathered everything Anna (and I) needed for our hike/picnic. Water bottles, sandwiches, hoodies…
“Anna, there’s going to be a horse named Anna for you to ride at your field trip,” Grace was saying.
“A horse! Named Anna?!”
I reached for my coffee. “Grace, stop lying to your sister.”
In other school news, Grace’s class had started an “alphabet countdown” for the remaining 26 days of the school year. A was for stuffed animal, B was for brain buster… I scanned the countdown sheet to see what today, C, was for.
Aha, there it was: C was for candy.
“I want candy too, Mom!” Anna said. “I want candy on my field trip!”
I began opening and shutting kitchen cabinets. “I don’t think we have any candy.” Maybe there was something leftover from Easter…
“Mom.” Grace raised her eyebrows at me. “You always have chocolate.”
My daughter spoke the truth: my hidden stash of good-quality dark chocolate that I—judge me if you must—prefer not to share with my family. Stanton’s got his chips and salsa; the girls have snacks galore: ice cream, Teddy Grahams, pretzels and Nutella, Girl Scout Cookies (still)…and raw veggies and hummus, of course (of course we have healthy snacks too…). Just leave me my chocolate, people.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. I broke off some of my last dark chocolate bar (with caramel and sea salt—arguably the most satisfying flavor combination!) so that my beloved firstborn could participate in C Is for Candy Day.
Grace gave me a thumbs-up.
The three of us began filing outside. I was carrying a bunch of stuff, and some of it was falling from my arms.
At the same time, my retired neighbor was pulling out of her driveway. She smiled and waved through her window. I would bet a huge amount of money, friends, that she was thinking, I’m glad that’s not me—and I’m not a betting woman.
Anna and I dropped Grace off at her bus stop. Then I realized I had left the directions to the lake in the breakfast nook. “Ugh.”
“Just use Google Maps, Mom,” Grace said.
“I know you like directions on paper,” Grace acknowledged. (She knows me too well.) “But you can do it.”
I looked at Grace. Then I looked at Anna, who smiled at me. “You can take me to my field trip, Mom,” she encouraged. “You can!” Ah…our children’s blind faith in us.
Grace’s bus pulled up.
“Mom, one more thing.” Grace tapped my arm. “What’s tomorrow?”
“Today is C Is for Candy—what’s for tomorrow?”
I had no clue. “I only know what we need for today,” I said. “Bye, love you, have a great day!”
I would bet a huge amount of money, friends, that she was thinking, I’m glad that’s not me—and I’m not a betting woman.
As I made my way to the lake, Google Maps confirmed for me why I prefer to look at a map and plot out my own route beforehand. There was road construction on one street. Another street had become one-way only since the last time Google Maps checked. And now Google Maps was rerouting me onto a highway during morning rush hour. (I excel at what you might call small-town, wide-open-spaces driving.)
“Merge onto NY-85…” Great.
Meanwhile… “I have my very own field trip,” Anna sang in the back.
Anna and I did arrive safe and sound at her field trip, thankfully. We actually were the first ones there, which worked out wonderfully, because parallel parking is another skill I’m not particularly strong in…so I was able to pull right into a great parking spot. Hallelujah.
The two of us took in the beautiful nature around us as we waited for others to arrive. Anna slipped her little hand into my big one. “I love my field trip, Mom.”
“Awww, I love you, honey.”
Everything with Anna’s field trip ended up being OK—really nice, actually. Later that day, Grace informed me she loved my dark chocolate. She also mentioned that she was excited about Family Math and Science Night at her school the following day, Friday (which also happened to be D Is for Favorite Drink Day).
Family Math and Science Night… Right. I had almost forgotten about that.
The early childhood years are fun. 😉
On Friday evening, my neighbor friend texted me. We were walking over to the school together with our kids. Would 5:45 p.m. be a good time to meet up, or maybe too early? she asked. (The event started at 6.)
I looked around the kitchen. I was in the process of making dinner (not ready yet). The counters were covered in unopened mail, Shopkins and, randomly, our birth certificates (an identity thief’s jackpot, should one happen to wander into our home).
(I’ve been meaning to organize all our important documents, under which “birth certificates” fall, into a filing cabinet. I’m optimistic this will happen…sometime soon.)
Another text, this time from Stanton. I read this latest piece of information: “Home between 10 and 11. Sorry so late. Ferry delayed due to weather.”
Stanton was on Martha’s Vineyard for work.
“Mom! We’re hungry! And it’s Family Math and Science Night, MOM!”
Maybe one day I’ll be stranded on a secluded island somewhere.
“5:45 might be a teensy bit too early,” I confessed in my text back to my friend. She kindly understood. In the end, we all made it to Family Math and Science Night, and everyone had fun—all’s well that ends well.
As last week wrapped up, I realized what a, well, not-smooth week it had been. I discovered important information about my children’s lives at the last minute (if field trips and C Is for Candy Day fall under the universal definition of “important”—but let’s not split hairs 😉 ). I still haven’t submitted my story. I did move the birth certificates to the master bedroom, but a determined identity thief might still find them.
Oh, and there are no secluded islands in my near future.
I was thinking, though, that our family did make it through the week, one day at a time. And I was thinking that there are times in our lives, maybe even whole seasons, where that’s the philosophy we simply must work with, or make work: “I only know what we need for today.”
No shame in “one day at a time.” Maybe it’s not as impressive as a “five-year plan,” or as profound as a “big-picture approach.” But “one day at a time” can get the job done.
Something I’m very conscious of is that no matter how harried life may seem sometimes, what I’m so lucky to have now—my family, all of us healthy and here together—is what I hoped for so much (prayed for, really) years ago.
…”one day at a time” can get the job done.
It is such a gift to have people in your life who love you, and whom you love too. Even when you’re winging it day to day. (Maybe especially when you’re winging it, and trying to stay on top of all the stuff.)
If you happen to be winging it for people you love…let me assure you you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who is. And although it may be hard to realize in the moment, you’re very lucky.
Cheers to TODAY.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “What Happens Next.” A story that’s heartfelt, relevant and can’t-put-it-down good.