Consider yourselves lucky . . . the title was almost “Time Is(n’t) on My Side” but thought that was a little too much, even for me.
Working in television news is a difficult lifestyle juggle on the best of days. I seem to have 5 things I’m juggling every day, and that’s even before I get to the daily work grind. Breakfast for the kids, backpacks organized, projects finished, the money for “Halloween-grams” (whatever the hell that is, I don’t know, but I had to give each kid a buck to buy them) and hopefully get a couple cups of coffee in the house and on the way to the school. Then I have to pray that the traffic isn’t so God awful that I can actually get to the station in time for my 8:30am meeting with the News Director and Managing Editor.
That’s a good day.
Lately, though, I’ve had to meet with one of the kids’ teachers at 7:15 so the morning routine has to get bumped up in order to get EVERYONE out the door in time for me to make the meeting. The two littlest ones have to be in the Extended Day room for an hour . . . a service that cost me nearly six hundred bucks last month. (That’s not a complaint, it’s a service I gladly pay for, it’s all I have. Without it, I’m SOL)
Here’s the thing. It’s hard enough being Dad, Mom, taxi driver, tutor, chef, maid, butler, and role model all before 8am. Then I have to turn around and be producer, researcher, journalist, advocate, and expert.
Don’t take that above statement as ego, by the way, it’s not. For all those jobs, it’s impossible that all of them are actually accomplished in any particular day. In fact, if they were, the meeting with the teachers wouldn’t be happening.
So in the last week, I’ve had my middle child so far behind that she’s failing multiple classes and still doesn’t understand why she needs to turn in the homework that is due each day. I mean, I hated homework. I even hated a number of my teachers. Hell, if my kids think they had it bad, I had Sister Mildred, a crazy woman who today would have been placed in the sanitarium for the mere fact that she thought Nixon was still in office and didn’t realize that when she was stapling posters to her bulletin board she was actually forcing the staples through the blackboard. She took pride in throwing hardcover books at kids and rapping our knuckles with the back end of a wooden hand broom. (I’d show you the scars, but I already had some, no room) It can’t be the teachers. In fact, I can’t believe that in some instances she’d even do the work but not turn it in! Thus, the meeting. Now, the whole family is aware that they have to wait, patiently (ha!) for dinner while I look through the planner, which every teacher signs, and make sure that EVERY piece of homework is accounted for before we eat each night.
Then, there’s Noah. I set up several interviews, work through a conference call . . . and the school calls telling me Noah is sick. My commute, with traffic, is such that by the time I got there to actually pick him up school was out anyway!
So you’d think that would give me a reprieve, right? Umm . . . no. I had 2 calls come in for work, all while trying to keep the kids quiet so I can get things moving with them. I had a source unexpectedly call. I had a former colleague needed help with something. And I had a script I was trying to write . . . which I got about 1/4 done.
It’s only a matter of time, right? A matter of time before it all comes together? No. A matter of time before they find me in the corner sitting criss-cross flicking my lips sounding out thpppppthhhppppp.
There aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t even know how we did it with two of us!
Before all the offers come in, I realize that there is help to be had. I know I just have to ask for help. But for what? I won’t ask someone to come to the house and do the laundry or cook for me. But those are the routines that I need to make, well, routine before the other projects can balance in the air like one of those carnival guys spinning plates on sticks. it takes a lot of concentration to not drop one of those damn plates.
If only there was a way to make them out of plastic somehow.
But I digress. It’s a matter of time. There just isn’t enough of it in the universe to handle all this. That, and the fact that I can’t end up in the corner catatonic. Those four kids really need me. If I do that, they truly are alone. The one thing they need more than anything in the world is the assurance, whether obvious or implicit, that I’m stable, strong and able to carry whatever they need to put on my shoulders. Even if it’s not true.
I miss Andrea more than anything in the world. But weeks like this, I realize I missed her more than just in my heart. My shoulders are aching because, even in the worst of times, she was able to lift a little of that weight off my shoulders. She also had an uncanny knack of helping to force time to slow down yet allow me to work at normal speed . . . so that we just never appeared to be dropping those plates.
So now it’s a matter of time. Time I just don’t have, but need to gain anyway. Some days I just don’t know how to do it, but I guess I have to know which plates to let fall . . . so they do the least amount of damage.