The first time I truly felt gratified by our decision to live on one steady income was right after the new year.
My father called me in a panic situation. With Prima and Secondo at school, I hopped in the car and was on site in about 10 minutes. It was a bad turn of events. But I was there right away, and then all day and well into the evening.
As I drove home, my relief was palpable. It rained that night and I cried, exhausted from the day, and confident we had made the right choice at this point in our lives. We had sacrificed greatly but gained, somehow, much more with my freedom.
This week has brought another series of grateful emotions.
It’s spring break. Prima is off of school for four days, Secondo all week long.
It was the kind of week that used to brutalize my spirit.
First was the terror of the week to come. Oh no, the kids have off next week. What am I going to do?
That was followed by the specter of finding coverage for the kids; the discomfort of asking for favors, relying on our parents, our good friends, sitters, of racing to be on time for pickup, for drop off, of dragging them to the office with me, to the Bailey Building & Loan. No sleeping in and still packing lunches. That was followed by coordinating, changing schedules, and the mind-bend of keeping-it-all-straight.
Then we were rewarded with the guilt and sadness of the actual week.
“Mommy, it was so fun, we went swimming and lunch and then we went to play at our friends house,” Prima would report the entire day’s events in full detail. “But Mommy, I missed you. When can we do that?”
Without fail, holiday weeks, days off, long weekends, inspired plain old dread.
But this week it’s been, I daresay, fun, easygoing, even enjoyable. My turn, I think, at the end of the lengthening sunny days and cool evenings. We had playdates, went on walks, bike rides, met up with friends, played games, made smoothies. I even – gasp – sunbathed. Something I haven’t done on a weekday in probably five years.
Prima and Secondo are bickering and happy, playful and full of songs from Prima’s recent show. They are taking this break to consistently belt out, “Go, go, go Joseph…” or “So Joseph, tell ol’ Ph-AAA-ROH…” [“Secondo! For the last time, darling, please stop singing while we’re at the dinner table.”]
I am happy and relieved again.
But not smug. At all. I’m not even confident those dreadful days are behind me for good.
And I leave that thought alone, because I’m here now.
There will always be a part of me, as a mother, who understands the pain of making the necessary compromises of long leisure days and memory-making activities to support her family. And as uncomfortable as those missed opportunities were, the weight of their experience has made me a better person, and a more grateful, humble mother of two future stage hogs.
P.S. If you love the cherub-cheeked beauties of Mary Cassatt as much as I do, you’ll love this website. I recommend a leisurely jaunt, particularly when your beauties are being devils, to remind you why you love being a mom.