I had everything in order: drop off kids, school holiday performance, lunch with friends and kids, shop for Christmas, rush to pick up, fix dinner and if I was lucky I would make it to see Star Wars Rogue One with friends. Phew, it was quite a day, but I was ready.
I knew this was the holiday pagent that my three year old was going to grab the microphone and sing his heart out. I was insanely excited for him to take the stage. My husband and I waited in a long line anxious for the performance to begin.
We sat down and one after the other the classes would come out and perform. Finally, it was my son’s class. He was an adorable reindeer. We had been practicing the song for weeks and even though he didn’t know all the words he knew some key phrases that would surely get him through his performance and allow him to be the focal point of the song. The performance began and there he sat, frozen, with tears filling his eyes. My heart plunged into my stomach and as I waved to say “I’m here”, he was literally “a deer in headlights”. This was not going to be his singing debut.
After the song was over I ran to the holding room, I couldn’t get the door open fast enough. Finally, I ran up the stairs, scooped up my little boy and it was then that he cried. I assured him it was over and that he was all done.
The day was off to a rough start. My little one and I sat at lunch with friends discussing holiday plans, the school program and the hope for a better 2017.
The clock was ticking and time was getting away from me. I rushed home with my little Henry in tow and settled him down for a rest after his big morning. I had just enough time to get a few things done before I went to pick up Mark at Kindergarten. Rush, hurry, rush was the theme of my day and at this point I admit I was exhausted mentally and physically.
My comfortable chair from my living room was calling my name and so I did it, I sat down and shut my eyes for a few brief moments. I had exactly 20 minutes until I had to go grab Mark from class.
Ring, ring, ring, my alarm buzzed, relentless. There was no snooze button today. I left Henry with my husband and I was out the door, again.
I pulled up to the school drive, jumped out of the car. I was on time and thrilled to be nearing the end of my long list of to-dos for the day.
I walked into his class, so excited to see my little boy on his last day of class before break, and unfortunately, what greeted me was not smiles and laughter, but instead tears of sadness. My eyes filled with concern, what could have gone wrong, I was at a loss. Then he said the most heart and gut wrenching words, “you weren’t here, you missed my school birthday party”.
He cried, I cried, I couldn’t believe I had missed it and to make matters worse I didn’t even know it. As I was told by a weepy 5 year old, all the parents of the children with December birthdays were suppose to come and celebrate with snacks and goodies. He anxiously waited for me to come through the door of his class and alas I didn’t come.
We had moved schools half way through the first part of the school year and though he had handled the transition well I knew it was difficult.
Motherhood is never with out challenges, happiness and total sadness. I couldn’t take this hurt away from him. The teacher and I talked about the misunderstanding and though nothing felt solved we left the classroom.
Now instead of following my very tight schedule everything was out the window. “Do you want to go get a birthday cake or birthday ice cream?”, I said. “Cake,” Mark said. “Done,” I replied.
My imagination took over and as I replayed the event of him watching the door waiting for me to walk into the classroom, it was too much, now I had tears in my eyes too.
We went to a little shop in Los Feliz, and there was a large counter filled with beautiful cakes just waiting to be chosen. My son’s eyes lit with excitement. We discussed all of the cakes with great detail and weighed the pros and cons of each piece. Finally we decided on a piece of Blue Velvet cake the size of my son’s head. His tongue was literally hanging out of his mouth. The cashier handed the massive piece to him and there was the smile I had hoped for.
We sat at the café table looking at the mountains in the distance and we talked about his feelings when I didn’t show up. As I replayed the day and I kept thinking, if only I hadn’t taken that quick snooze. I knew it wouldn’t have made a difference but I always play the what if game. But, alas, the December birthday note attached to one of the countless school emails that I had received was missed.
As I sat there, staring at my little boy loving every bite of his cake, I asked if he would forgive me for missing his birthday. Thankfully he said yes.
Even though we plan and we schedule, and we organize, sometimes things fall through the cracks. And though we can beat ourselves up over missing important events, eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later) we have to just take responsibility, embrace the mistake with tears, sadness or anger and move on to a better tomorrow. The thing about parenting is, it’s ongoing, and it never stops. And when all else fails, blue velvet cake can make it better.