It is four minutes to six and we are sitting at a blinking yellow stoplight, waiting to make a left turn to get my son to baseball practice. I’m watching the steady, unyielding stream of oncoming traffic, feeling new muscles tense at the thought of running more and more behind, coming off the heels of my daughter’s piano lesson.
This seems to be my new normal: a constant state of late. If I could just get them there, I can unload them both on my husband, who is already at the field to help with baseball practice. Then I will be free to 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. But they aren’t. They are big, and relentless, and grating. 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? They clearly have no idea.
They have no idea that while they are bickering about my daughter failing to grab an extra lollipop for my son from her piano teacher, I’m fumbling in my purse for the pair of socks my son needs to wear with his baseball cleats…socks he hasn’t even noticed he needs. And cleats he needed to be reminded to bring.
They have no idea that while my daughter was practicing piano, I was sitting in my car checking calendars, planning a Girl Scout meeting, reading school update emails, and scheduling our lives.
They have no idea that while they were having a snack before their after-school activities and neglecting my “x amount of minutes until we leave” warnings, I was readying piano books and baseball gear.
They have no idea that while shuttling them home from school and being blinded by the sun, I realized I must have left my sunglasses somewhere on the grassy hill as I tried to video-record my son’s outdoor ceremony earlier that day. 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.
They have no idea that the reason I was leaving at the last minute to get to the ceremony was because I was trying to finish a freelance writing job I picked up for some extra money: extra money my husband and I hope to use to take the family to Disney World.
They have no idea that I lost precious working time this morning when I went up to school for an event my daughter’s class was having, only to find out it had been rescheduled for two days later…and she had simply neglected to bring home the note informing parents of the change.
They have no idea that every morning when I check my schedule, 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’m the only one concerned that we are going to be late for one of their activities. Because right now, all they 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.
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 the sooner I get there, the sooner I can hand them over to my husband. And I can finally have time to myself. I think I can make it…
…But if I try and don’t make it, if the unthinkable happens, time to myself may be all I have left. And when I go to check my schedule every morning, I might only be able to wish all of it could be directly related to them.
In an instant, getting to practice on time doesn’t seem to matter anymore. And neither does the fact that they are still arguing over a lollipop instead of marveling at the sacrifices I make for them every day. 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.