Well, I’m sitting here feeling like a pretty crappy mama. We missed Eliza’s class holiday performance tonight. We didn’t miss it because we chose not to go. We missed it because we were late and her class performed without her.
As we crossed the courtyard to her school 10 minutes after the program started we saw her teacher walking out of the gym where the program was in full swing.
“Oh,” she said looking a little disappointed. “We just finished their song.”
I nearly started crying. We were too late.
Eliza didn’t quite get what her teacher had meant. I stopped walking, bent to her level and tried to explain.
“Eliza, your class already sang their song baby. I’m so sorry,” I said.
“But why?” she said.
“We’re late getting here and it already started,” I said. “Do you still want to go in and watch the other kiddos? We could sing along with them.”
“I don’t want to watch,” she said. “I want to do the song with my class.”
“Oh baby, I’m so sorry,” I said and at this point we were both close to tears.
We went in to the packed gym and found a place to stand. She went to sit with her class on the front row and I looked around. Other little girls were in holiday dresses, freshly bathed, hair combed. Eliza hadn’t been home since this morning and still had on what she wore to school: basketballin’ pants and an at-the-end-of the-day grubby shirt.
Why didn’t I think to pack her a change of clothes? Why are there still so many things I don’t know?
Every new stage finds me here, holding my head in my hands, wondering why I just didn’t know something that seems so obvious in hindsight. This was, after all, our first holiday performance. When the announcement said “everyone will be performing,” I thought that meant in one big group. Everyone knows kindergartners go first, I suppose. Everyone but me.
Sitting in the performance I ran through the day in my head. Pancakes, drop off, doctor’s appointment, teacher appreciation lunch at Lucille’s preschool, quick bite and trip to the toy store without kids, clean up from lunch, pick up turned play date, potluck that was to include caroling. We didn’t carol, however, but ate quickly to get to Eliza’s holiday performance. We had a day of getting places on time and pulling off thoughtful gestures only to have it unravel in the evening with two events too close together. We didn’t do either one well. We have a life, full. And some days I feel as though we need just one more hour to fit it all in. This richness, it’s a good problem to have. I just wish our cup that runneth over hadn’t spilled tonight in Eliza’s lap.
Throughout the performance I watched Eliza, sitting with her friends, move to the rhythm of drums and guitars. When we got home I asked her if she’d like to sing for us the song she was to sing with her class. She beamed. She got her ukulele and brought a chair into the living room. She “tuned” her instrument, giggled in the spotlight of her one girl show then said she wanted to play the song tomorrow.
As I carried her to bed she said, “ Mama, you’re the goodest in the whole wide life.”
I just wish I felt like it.