Hannah gathered her three children, their belongings, and tests that needed to be graded that evening. As they hurried out of the classroom she reminded them of her son’s lacrosse practice; it was imperative they remain on schedule.
After an orchestrated chaotic morning, and a full day of teaching middle school children, Hannah found herself taking deep breaths while driving out of the parking lot. With each breath she remembered that her fulltime paying job was complete, but her other full time position as a “domestic engineer” (aka – MOM) was merely in the infancy stage. Turning into traffic she let out a deep, long sigh.
Questions and answers filled the car as Hannah chatted with her children about their school day and homework assignments for that evening. As they pulled into the neighborhood Hannah recapped the critical list of events that had to take place in order for them to quickly eat dinner, complete homework, and adjourn back in the car for lacrosse practice.
After a busy 45 minutes, Hannah shouted her typical two minute departure warning. Everyone quickly piled back into the car. Thankfully, green traffic lights lit up the path to the park and they arrived at their destination without a second to spare.
As much as Hannah wanted to be a top finalist for the Mother-of-the-Year Award, she found herself being short tempered with her children; something she was never proud of, but seemed to be doing more often these days.
Her son ran out to meet his coach and her daughters skipped with joy to the playground. As usual, Hannah grabbed her teacher tote and found a quiet spot on the bleachers. Her goal was to grade at least half of the tests before the end of practice.
Five minutes had passed and only a few papers had been scored. Her youngest child came running up to her with excitement and asked, “Mommy! Will you come and play with us?”
“Not now sweetie, I have a ton of work to do. Maybe in ten minutes.”
“What did I just say? No. Now go play.”
The child’s face sadly deflated as she turned and walked away. Hannah continued to work while attempting to drown the sounds of the laughter and screaming coming from the playground.
The cycle continued with her daughters anxiously asking for their mother to play; each time coming to the same dead end response to wait just a few more minutes. With frustration building, Hannah buried her nose deeper into the papers.
She was so focused on her task that she didn’t notice Michael’s mother, Tracy, move up beside her. Their sons had been playing lacrosse together for the last six years and had become great friends.
Tracy sat patiently and was waiting for just the right moment to begin a conversation. She realized that the timing needed to be near perfect. When Hannah paused long enough to swap a stack of papers, their eyes met.
Hannah did her very best to produce an award winning smile to cover up the many frustrations that were amplified from being an exhausted working mother. Tracy placed her hand on Hannah’s knee and softly said, “Do you remember when we first became friends? We made a pact to always be honest with one another and never hold back our feelings – right?”
Softly producing a smile Hannah nodded.
“Look, I understand what you are going through. Part of parenthood includes knowing how to wear multiple hats. What parents are responsible for and can accomplish in a single day is simply mind blowing, and sometimes, quite overwhelming! The truth is – we’re ALWAYS going to be busy! But, it is WHAT we are busy with that is OUR CHOICE.”
Tracy paused. Tears began to form. “Right now you STILL have a choice. You can grade these papers, or you can play with your daughters. I just don’t want you to one day find yourself in a position, like myself, where you no longer have certain choices. You know I would give anything to run around and play with my children.”
Hannah was literally speechless. Without hesitation Hannah quickly threw her papers in the tote and leaned over to give Tracy a hug. Tears were rolling down each of their cheeks. Hannah whispered, “Thank you Tracy, and I am so, so very sorry.”
Tracy assured her, “No apologies needed.” She simply pointed to the girls and said, “Go already!”
Her daughters saw her coming and greeted her with joyous squeals. “Mommy’s here! You’re it! Count to ten and try to catch us!”
Tracy smiled at Hannah as she unlocked her wheelchair and began to roll away.
Cheryl Copeland is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about life lessons and sharing her personal adventures as a breast cancer survivor.