Like on most afternoon days, there I was, driving one of my kids to another sports event. In this case, it was Tuesday, which makes it Olivia’s swim conditioning. Lost in my own thoughts of driving despair, I was not really listening to her chat away.
Then her chatter penetrates my brain fog and I hear her big plan.
“If I work really, really hard, and dedicate myself,” she was saying in her most earnest voice, “I think I’m going to be able to play water polo at Stanford.”
Struggling in the midst of my own dark, bleak moment, I have to confess my thoughts are not necessarily constructive.
|We are all going a little nuts at this point|
“Olivia,” I imagine saying to her in a matter-of-fact way, “Why bother to have hopes and dreams as lofty as that? Because the reality is, you are going to get married, have kids and then spend your entire time transporting them from point A to point B. This will happen on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. So you see, you don’t really need a college degree, sweetheart. What you need to do is book yourself into a driving school and save yourself some major college tuition debt. Believe me I speak from experience because that is all I do in spite of my education, rocking career and lucid mind. I drive. And unlike Uber, I don’t even get paid for it.”
Forcing a smile, I looked at my petite 6th grader (another reason she might not be able to play for Stanford), not having the heart to even go there. “That’s nice honey,” I tell her, nodding and grinning like I have just downed Prozac with a side of vodka.
“Mom, why are you acting so weird?” she asked. She's an observant kid.
Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t. That is how I sum up my current parenting moment. In fact, it is starting to become my mantra. Four kids home all summer and I am damned. Wishing that school starts is a don’t: that’s when the schedule kicks in and the driving commences.
“So Mara, what do you do?” a new colleague asked me a few days ago.
“Well, from 3-7 pm I drive,” I reply, “everyday.”
“That’s funny,” she said.
“Actually, not really.”
Of course, when discussing the sched, Alpha was solution oriented. “Sign them all up for the same sport, make it easy on yourself,” he suggested. Wow, that sure sounds like a good concept. Over $1,000 of registration fees later, I discover that not one child has a practice that overlaps at the same pool with another. In fact, I will be bold and declare that someone sat in a room and decided how best to screw with families that have multiple children. And it seriously worked. I'm certain it is a maniacal, single, childless person who thought this would be a great joke to play.
“I got the mornings,” Alpha assured me (because, going from his name, you can imagine he can’t get the afternoon – too busy hunting for meat to feed the family).
Day one, 5:45am swim conditioning out at Dos Pueblos. Home phone rings. “Jeeze, I completely forgot I had a call scheduled at 7:30,” Alpha reports, five minutes into his first driving commitment. “But don’t worry, don’t worry, I got this covered. Just called half the office to see who can pick up Jackson.”
Fast-forward one week. Now I am doing the 7:15am pick up, with all the kids in the car sleepy and cranky (Alpha is on a business trip), I can’t help but gently explode. The driving is driving me mad. I'm about to go off the road.
“Those driverless Google cars will really come in handy,” Olivia commented, her voice full of optimism and hope for the future. “They can’t really innovate those things fast enough, huh mom?”
I look over and all I can do is bleakly nod. We can all have dreams.