February 13, 2015
By Ekta R. Garg
On Wednesday at dinner I did something that I can’t recall ever doing before: I shared with the kids every single thing I’d done that day. And it left them with wide eyes and apologetic faces, because they couldn’t believe what I’d done in the span of about 12 hours.
I didn’t plan for Wednesday to be a busy day. Earlier in the week I decided I would drop the kids at school and then go to Target to buy supplies to assemble little Valentine goody bags for school. I’d planned to meet a friend for lunch around 12:30, so that gave me enough time to shop for goody bags, come home, exercise, shower, maybe even get some work done on my current editing project and then go to lunch. After lunch, I thought, I’d come home and get started on dinner.
Life, as they say, is what happens while we’re busy making plans.
School drop-offs on Wednesday went smoothly, and after kissing Eight goodbye I drove to Starbucks. At that time of the morning I need a cup of tea to get my motor running. When I got to Starbucks and requested my regular English breakfast tea, the girl behind the counter took my money, turned around to make the tea, and then told me they were out of it.
Now, given that English breakfast is one of the most common types of tea that people drink, I should have taken this as an indicator of my day. I even had a niggling feeling that made me wonder how the day would go. But I tried to forget it.
So I accepted the barista’s suggestion of chai tea (which, by the way, I have to say is kind of a dumb name, because “chai” is the Hindi word for tea. So if you order a chai tea, you’re essentially ordering a “tea tea.”) I took the cup and tried to ignore the fact that she didn’t give me the 2 percent milk like I’d asked; she gave me 1 percent instead, which made the tea look and taste weaker than the winter sun.
I went to Target, entered the store, and texted my friend to confirm for lunch. When she did I accidentally swiped the screen on my phone to my daily calendar and saw that I had a dentist appointment scheduled for that morning at 9:10.
The phone told me it was 9:00.
I actually said, “Oh, crap” aloud and started a power walk to the entrance. I dumped the half-finished tea in a trash can, dropped the few items I’d picked up on a shelf, pushed the cart to the side, and kept power walking to the car. It took me 12 minutes to get from one side of town to the other, and during the entire drive my mind started racing. I began a mental rearrangement of my morning, and I knew that if I wanted to give the girls enough time to assemble the goody bags after school I had to buy everything that morning. I couldn’t do it in the afternoon, because of my lunch commitment, and I couldn’t do it yesterday because on Thursdays we have music lessons and dance class after school.
The dentist appointment meant an extra 45 minutes out of the morning that I hadn’t planned on losing, and after the cleaning I got into the car and drove to another store.
My mind felt a little scattered from the about-face I had to do at Target, so I spent longer than I wanted looking for goody bag stuff. I got home just in time to put everything away and take a shower. With 15 minutes to spare, my friend texted me to say she was running late and could we meet at 12:45?
I sighed in relief, and then five minutes later my mother called. Normally I would just call her back later in the day, but because my parents went to India last week for a vacation I knew I couldn’t postpone an international call. Mom updated me on all their adventures thus far, and the call went longer than I anticipated. I ended up being late for lunch, which meant it went later than I hoped. I didn’t get a chance to do any editing or anything else on the computer; instead I had to go pick up the girls.
As first Six and then Eight climbed into the car, I didn’t mention anything about how my day had gone so far; instead I listened to their banter and tried to referee their bickering. We got home long enough for Six and Eight to hang up all of their school stuff and for Eight to change her out of her uniform before she had to pick up her guitar so we could all go to her lesson. I took my computer with me and turned it on for the first time at 4:00 that afternoon, which for me is unheard of. On a regular day by 4:00 I would have been into and out of my computer at least three or four times.
After the lesson we came home and Eight finished her homework. I corrected her work, helped her through the corrections and then spread all of our supplies for goody bags across the dining table. The girls and I set up an assembly line, and in about an hour-and-a-half we assembled bags for more than 50 kids.
I had just enough time to throw dinner together—I boiled pasta and dumped some jarred sauce into it—before my husband got home from the hospital and the kids tromped into the kitchen wanting to know what was for dinner.
We all sat at the dinner table and talked about our day, and this entire story just tumbled out of me. As I shared each part of my adventures the kids’ eyes kept getting wider and wider.
“I’m so sorry, Mamma,” Eight said when I got to the end of my story. “I didn’t mean to make you do all that for my Valentines.”
“Yeah,” Six echoed, “you had a crazy day.”
“It’s okay,” I told them.
They kept chatting about it for a few minutes, and Eight said, “I couldn’t do all that. I couldn’t even do half of it.”
“How did you do it?” Six asked.
I looked at my husband who shrugged.
“Well,” I answered, “when you become a grownup sometimes you just have to do it, right?”
My husband nodded long and slow in that way that only another adult who has pushed himself to the edge can.
The fact that I spent the entire day on the go impressed the kids, and I reiterated for them the fact that I was happy to do it. I knew it had to be done, so I just kept up the high pace and went through the day. Eight and Six found it quite the accomplishment.
They were still talking about it yesterday morning too.
“I hope you don’t have another crazy day today,” Six said with a laugh as we drove to school.
“Yeah, otherwise you’ll be running all over the place again,” Eight said.
I told them again that I was happy to do it. If I have to do something for the family, I just go in with both barrels loaded and don’t stop firing until the end of the day. Granted, I wish I hadn’t forgotten about the dentist appointment. I would have probably planned a little better. But I hope that by sharing my day with the kids they’ll see that not only can I be flexible, but also I’m here for them in whatever capacity they need me.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I have serious plans to sleep in tomorrow.