Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More (Live) by the Allman Brothers Band (I suddenly realized I haven’t put an Allman Brothers track in the headline before…so here ’tis!)
I spent the evening sitting in a meeting filled with people I didn’t know in order to supposedly get information on what my child’s high school play will be about. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could tell you a singular item from the meeting. I would hear one thing only to realize they’d backtracked to something else and then completely negated anything that had been said prior. I was tired, stressed out, had to leave work early, and had all 4 kids with me because, let’s face it, there’s simply nobody else around to watch the kids when you are the babysitter. Abbi, my oldest, is the normal babysitter.
It was after the meeting, which left me thoroughly befuddled, that I realized I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner. I looked over at Abbi, my oldest, and informed her of said condition and informed her it was 7:30 in the evening so it would have to be something quick, easy, and could not involve going out to eat as I don’t get paid until Friday. As the words were leaving my mouth, I realized it was silly of me to ask. She had the blank look she always does when I ask if she has a preference for dinner. I should know better, but like the guy who keeps hitting his hand with a hammer “because it feels so much better when I stop”, I ask anyway.
Fortunately, if you sell something as a great treat, it becomes a great treat. “Let’s have breakfast for dinner!” was my idea. It was met with a hearty dose of enjoyment by all, which was fortunate because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure what else I’d have done. Nothing is that quick and I’ve hit a wall in terms of my planning for the week. That same said high school play has caused me to pick up the kids from the Extended Day Program (EDP) myself, early. That, in turn, means I have to get into work early so as to complete the tasks I’ve got in front of me for the day. I mean, let’s face it, if I said I’d do them when I got home getting the work completed is about as likely as my fixing the nuclear reactor meltdown at Chernobyl.
So you might wonder what makes me use the title I did when I seem to be spiraling just a little out of control? The reality is I’m not wasting the time. The chores, well, they’re not getting completed, but I’m not doing them any more. When my daughter couldn’t find a place to eat breakfast this morning because the table was so messy . . . guess whose fault it was? Suddenly, when I got home, she had unloaded the dishwasher and cleaned it off. Amazing!
But more, it’s to try and get us back onto the path, start us writing the story without the “Lost” flashbacks. I write those here. I think about those in the waning hours of my day, while I sit alone. It’s not healthy for them to just stumble, just walk and go through the motions. So we attended this parent meeting with no semblance of order and no indication that anyone had an idea what we really did need to know that was so vital this evening. Why? Because I am not wasting any more time. I sat in that room and realized, no, I didn’t know these people, neither did my daughter before this. Should I? Maybe. But we won’t start turning pages, she won’t leave behind her old school, one we cannot afford to return to, unless we stop stumbling blindly in the dark.
It’s time to take those small, baby steps that take us away from the fork in the road.
So no, I didn’t know what to make for dinner. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I still have a hard time keeping up with getting the laundry put away. I can’t get the kids to complete their chores. But I have to get all these things working. If I don’t, we’re stuck here, going in circles, returning over and over again to the fork in the road.
Years ago, when Andrea first got pregnant, we had hit the morass of repetition. We’d only been married a year and we’d had all these amazing plans, ideas and thoughts about what our lives were going to look like. I was going to keep playing my guitar in my own band. She was going to be a network anchor. Andrea sat in the bedroom of our apartment in a desperate panic when she’d missed her period. She’d come home with a brown bag with a pregnancy test in it. It contained two of those little sticks and we sat there, on the edge of our bed in a small two-bedroom apartment, like a bad version of the EPT commercial waiting for the timer to go off. She took the first one and started to cry, in a panic, running into the bathroom grabbing the second little white stick from the box and once again peeing on it and waiting.
The timer went off and she watched as the little blue line turned into an = sign and said she was pregnant. Andrea nearly hyperventilated. She sent me, now angry, to the store to buy two more boxes of tests.
“Maybe I did it wrong,” she said. “Maybe I contaminated the sample. We have to do this again!” So I went. Would arguing with her have really accomplished anything? All four new sticks said the same thing. One said =. One of them said +. Another just said “yes” or “no”. Didn’t make a difference, they all meant “pregnant”.
It was the only time Andrea ever faltered. But I was there, like so many other times when she had her head on my shoulder, telling her we’d be OK. We’d reached that fork far sooner than we’d thought or wanted. We thought of ourselves as kids still, just figuring out what it was like to be with each other, still desperate to get home at the end of the day to see each other, and now we were about to take on the responsibility of another, helpless little person. It was awful, at least for me, because I had to resign myself to being a Dad, a caring support system for a pregnant wife, and I wasn’t remotely ready for it, but I did it. I dealt with the tears followed by arguments followed by crying apologies for 10 months. I spent so many days running to “Garden Cafe” to get a piece of sour cream chocolate cake that the restaurant just cut a piece and had it in a bag for me so I could walk in and buy it without waiting. I did all this because Andrea needed to feel like we could accomplish this. She thought, for the longest time, that she didn’t have the close relationship I have with Abbi because she fought the inevitable so much.
I’m now faced with a similar fork in the road. I have so much to face, so many awful details in front of me and I put on the face like I know what I’m doing. I’ve decided I can’t waste time any more. The kids need to move on, even if I’m not ready to, because this last few months to the anniversary of her passing will set the tone for the rest of their lives. My kids need to know that I have us moving forward down the path, even if I’m not sure that I do know all those things. I may lead them in circles, but at least I’m leading them. So I arrange for getting the other 3 kids so my oldest can do a musical. I hit up contacts and friends so I can get tickets to “The Black Keys” at Arco for the girls. I take the boys to see the movies they want and help Noah learn to play guitar. I help Sam kick the soccer ball and play basketball because those are all lines we need to write on the page. I’ve spent 9 months just trying to keep us on our feet now it’s time to stop.
It’s time to turn the page. It’s time to stop wasting time.