“Monkeys, do you have your lunches?”
“Yes!” they cried out in unison.
“Let’s go! Backpacks on, grab a sweater, and make sure you have your lunch packed away in your backpack.”
After dropping off Bella and Iza at school to make an 8 am call where I had to present, I drove off guilt ridden that I was leaving them on campus so early in the morning – read 5 minutes earlier than usual. I coaxed myself to shake it off, to remember that they are loved and well-cared for little girls who can handle an additional 5 minutes away from me.
As I pulled into the parking lot at work and reached for my purse in the backseat, my eyes focused on a cute black tote with a panda face smiling at me – Iza’s lunch bag.
I ignored it, ignored the fact that the school would be calling me soon to notify me, ignored the fact that I had 2 minutes before the call started, and dashed up the stairs in my stiletto heels, click-clacking my way to my office where I quickly dialed into the conference call in time to hear the global roll call.
I sent a quick text to my fiancee ‘Iza 4got lunch will drop off after call in case school calls’ as I pulled up my notes for my presentation and silenced my cell phone.
As I was introduced, my phone buzzed with Iza’s school’s phone number flashing at me. Bad Mom! it read. As I ignored the call and it rang again it screamed, Terrible Mom!, before I ignored it again.
I placed my hand on my chest and leaned forward into my computer screen to calm my nerves and the chatter in my brain. I stuck to my script a lot closer than I meant to and probably came off sounding like a robot dictating an essay (thank God I wrote it out and emailed it to myself the evening before!). As soon as the call was over I got a couple of encouraging notes from colleagues congratulating me on a good presentation which I really appreciated. I chose to ignore my internal questioning if the praise was deserved or not, and sat back and appreciated the kind words.
I waited a few minutes in case anyone followed up with any questions before I called the school back and apologized for ignoring their calls (I’m not a terrible mom, I promise! I have this thing called a J-O-B which I’m trying to make into a C-A-R-E-E-R), grabbed my keys, cell phone (work lifeline) and ran to my car. As I pulled into the school 8 minutes later (I strategically live a short distance from my life’s priorities: the girls’ school and work) and dropped off Iza’s lovingly packed home cooked meal at the front office, I took a moment to smile (laugh at myself).
My mother would have kicked my ass if I had forgotten my lunch at home and had the gall to have the school secretary to call her at work and ask her to drop everything to bring it to me. I started laughing out loud at the absurdity of the thought. My mother never packed lunches. She was too busy working as a grill cook an hour away in LA traffic for a 5 AM – 2 PM shift on her feet. Her J-O-B did not allow the flexibility to “drop by” my school to deliver a home cooked meal. I never wanted to be a nuisance to this mother of 5 whose idea of a better American life necessitated an additional job on the weekends as a cashier to afford the mortgage payments.
I smiled at the thought of my mother who continues to inspire me with her strength and will to move forward in life. I smiled at the thought that I seem destined to feel guilty throughout life. Guilt of being a nuisance as a child to hardworking parents and guilt as a mother for not predicting every minute need that my children may have. I smile because I wouldn’t take either of those experiences away – my childhood nor the precious childhood that I shape for my girls.
Having it all? I say yes, one crazy (but well planned) day at a time.
Suicide is everywhere
Do all the pretty things in life make up for yesterday’s sadness?
lingering in sweet moments
But it’s hard to think with a drink or two in hand
relaxing for once
All the sad moments
from another life
Moments stitched together
Harder to remember
like a foggy morning melting into a sunny day
Rays of heat burn
whispers of grey floating away
Bathed in golden sun
I look at the broad smiles of happy girls
the thought of anything but present
After a hectic day of work full of several meetings and deadlines, I rushed through rush hour traffic to pick up my girls by 6 PM from the Horizons Day Camp, where I had guiltily dropped them off for the first time that morning.
After spending a short weekend in LA being enveloped in sisterly love celebrating my mother’s birthday, I was back in Silicon Valley where I’ve been living for a year now. We got home around midnight which made my early morning routine a little foggier and a little bit slower. After fighting the urge to sleep in, we made our way to Starbucks to pick up coffee and chicken and hummus boxed lunches for the girls because I didn’t have a single thing in my fridge that could quickly materialize into an edible lunch meal for my girls.
I ordered ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches for them to eat while I sipped my coffee and slowly came back to life and thought how nice it was to be able to grab breakfast at a coffee shop on a weekday like we used to do in LA. Lost in my thoughts as we made our way to the day camp center, my girls sang new songs they had made up, recited stories and asked me question after question which reminds me, I need to define equinox to them as this morning when they asked, the morning coffee had not peeled away the sleepiness that I have been fighting for the last week of 4 hour sleep nights.
They seemed excited to go to the day camp and meet new friends. As we walked into the center we heard a child crying for his mom which made the girls reassess the desirability of the situation and they quickly clung to me asking me not to go. “Take me with you mommy, I can stay at work with you. Don’t leave me here.” “I can’t sweetheart, you will both have fun and remember, you have each other.”
As I walked away heavy with guilt, I couldn’t shake off the blanket of sadness that seemed to suffocate me and threatened to make me cry. In the car, I wondered if I was doing the right thing – working and studying towards a better tomorrow at the cost of seeing them race to adulthood before my eyes without me being there MORE.
They’re not toddlers mind you, they are 8 and 9 and are pretty independent and strong young girls. I have always marveled at their resiliency and capacity to adapt to new environs. I was confident that they would be fine but I felt this urgency to be by their side gnawing at my nerves all day. During lunch I spilled water on myself as I wondered if I should have gone to visit them instead of eating my meal with colleagues.
After a meeting that ended at 5:30, I rushed to my car and looked at my map app. I jumped on the 101 S towards Palo Alto and exited a couple of miles after to avoid the parking lot of traffic ahead. My estimated arrival time slowly got away from me, 5:48, 5:52, 5:58. It tortured me as I took surface streets and it recalculated urging me to take a U-turn and teetering between 5:58 and 5:59 pm. As I missed the left turn and had to wait another eternal few minutes on the intersection of Page Mill and El Camino, I willed the lights to turn faster, the arrival time to freeze at 5:59 and my girls to be okay.
As I finally pulled into the office park, I quickly parked in a loading zone and jumped out of the car like a madwoman running in my heels across the plaza to pick up my girls before 6 pm and hoping that they weren’t the last kids in the center thinking I had abandoned them. As I walked into view, they came over and greeted me with their gorgeous big smiles and started showing me the lanyards they had made, the art work, describing the three new friends they had made until I interrupted them to hurry up and get to the car which was illegally parked. As we dashed back to the car I couldn’t help but feel silly for having been so worried. Of course they would have a good time, of course they would make friends – they were my daughters after all.
In the car, they took turns spilling out the contents of the day as I recuperated from my bad mom guilt trip hangover. At the red light I turned over my shoulder and excitedly reminded them that we would be going on vacation in two more days. “We’re going to have 8 days of nonstop time with each other girls, we can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, cuddle sessions, all of the time and attention that you want.” Bella looked lost in thought. “Are you okay Bella?” “Uhm, yes.” “Aren’t you excited?” “Yes.” (In a very non-excited voice).
I couldn’t help but sigh deeply inside. Here I was carrying the world on my shoulders all day, feeling like the worse mother in the world because I HAD to work for a living, because I am ambitious enough to move out of my hometown LA to pursue a better future with a loving partner and father to my children, because I come home tired after long stressful days at work to cook and be a good mom and then stay up late to study for my evening classes as I work towards my degree, because I wish I could stay home with them during the summer and be there for all of the moments of childhood that seem to keep slipping through my fingers – and they were oblivious to all of it. Just like I was when I was a child.
When my mother would wake up at 3:00 AM to cook dinner before she got ready for her shift at work which started at 4:30 AM I always wondered why she bothered working so hard, I was critical of her dedication to us. When I would come home after school and I saw her sleeping on the sofa, exhausted and still in her work uniform as a cook, I felt a mixture of sympathy and love with an edge of annoyance that I never got to talk to her, that she never greeted me, that she wasn’t like the other moms that were home all day waiting for their children to get home to ask them about their day. Now as a mother, I am grateful for the wonderful mother that I had. She has her imperfections like we all do but her qualities far outweigh the human qualities about her. Her desire and hard work towards a better tomorrow, her strength through bad financial, emotional and marital times, her love for her grandchildren, her hugs filled with aromatic coffee, her gentle smile, her love and acceptance, her belief in all of her children, her tenacity to overcome a horrible childhood, her generosity in love – all of these things and so many more keep her in the pedestal in which I have her. My own guardian angel watching over me, reminding me that someday my own daughters will see the sacrifice that mothers make for their children. Reminding me that these daughters of mine will be just fine because I’m raising them to be like my mother raised me to be: resilient, hardworking, confident, ambitious, and kind.
Originally posted on On the Fast Lane with the Flying Monkeys:
Originally posted on On the Fast Lane with the Flying Monkeys:
We went out to the Geffen MOCA and dinner with AM and her boys on Thursday evening. As we settled down with our sushi and rambunctious kiddos, we started talking shop, as AM fondly refers to it.
A year had passed since I changed careers, a career that she so generously recommended me for and positioned me perfectly for. In a year I had learned that this was the perfect vehicle for my ambition, hard worth ethic, and all around personality of a control freak. :) I had just received a promotion and she wondered how I came to possess the professionalism, poise, and ability to navigate and distinguish myself while working at a high-powered law firm and coming from Boyle Heights with my highest education being at Roosevelt HS no less (a school whose distinction includes being featured in the documentary Waiting for Superman as an educational fail factory).
As far as my work ethic…
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