Firecracker

I walked into the boardroom just in time for the presentation to start. The Studio Director winked at me in relief while the Account Director, never missing a beat, introduced me to our potential new clients. Somewhere in between our handshakes and awkward small talk it hit me... I only had eyeliner on one eye. While this is seemingly better than say, having my fly open, it's not exactly a confidence booster before presenting to a group.

While my colleagues spoke, I discretely dug into my Mary Poppins bag of tricks for a mirror to at least assess the situation. Two pacifiers, a bib and a Fourth of July noise blower passed my line of vision before my index finger met the pointed edge of the baby nail clippers. I jerked forward just at the same time the Account Director passed the presentation my way, making me look over eager and slightly jittery.

I couldn't decide if the fact that they were a cosmetic company made it OK for me to have half  "my face" on. I mean if they noticed maybe they would think I was making some sort of fashion statement and would therefore decide that I would be the correct Project Manager to help market their brand. If we had been pitching to Johnson's or Pampers, my working knowledge and consistent "market research" would surely have sealed the deal.

Being a working mother brings a whole new meaning to the word multitasking. I mean hell, that's how I got in the eyeliner mess to begin with. My daughter wanted to play with my make-up and I wanted to DO my make-up. It's like fending off a hungry puppy who won't stop jumping onto your plate of spaghetti. It's awful messy and lethal for your rug. We were coming off a great Fourth of July weekend with family and I was trying to make myself look as human as possible. Since my daughter has been here, great weekends tend to go hand in hand with exhausting weekends. It was no wonder I rushed out the door looking like a drug addict that morning.
                                                                                                                                                                 
Days off and leaving work early have a very different connotation when you have to take care of another human being who can't be told, "Give me five more minutes."   In the toddler world, five minutes can mean a full leg tattoo courtesy of dry erase markers or a drawer full of clothing emptied out onto your bedroom floor.

 Or— my personal favorite— a toddler running around your house stark naked.  And when I say running, I don't mean a jog. I'm talking running from a zombie Apocalypse kind of running where the only thing stopping this kid is a wall. Add a little moisture from a nice bath and you have a very fast AND very slippery mini me now ten times harder to grab.

I still recall a male co-worker remarking on how lucky I was to "get a vacation" when I was going on maternity leave. I would like to know what kind of sick bastard thinks sleeping maybe three to four hours a night for weeks while getting spit-up and pooped on is a vacation. Need I even mention having  your breasts on call for something other than foreplay? I didn't breastfeed so I can't personally attest to the inconvenient truth of the whole process. I however have some of the strongest girlfriends out there who have breastfed and trust me, if you dare call their maternity leaves a vacation, you may as well pick out your own body bag.

Needless to say, being a working mother is anything but easy. Imagine heading into your Monday after a weekend full of toddler mayhem to trek into an office demanding every last ounce of energy from you. The advertising industry should have it's own slogan or better yet, disclaimer. It should read, "Children not permitted unless you are willing to hand over parental rights to every other family member during launch weeks."

It's no wonder that I walked three city blocks before I realized I had tights on instead of leggings with my waist-hitting shirt one fall morning. I'm pretty sure non see-through pants are a prerequisite as far as business casual attire goes in an office. As close as my co-workers and I were at the time, I doubt they would have appreciated a front row view of my polka dot bikini briefs or for that matter— a full bathroom monologue brought to you from the last stall on the left. Yes, I was talking to myself in a bathroom stall at work one evening. Where else is a working mother supposed to prioritize her task list? There aren't many "check points" during the day where you can truly organize your transition from work back to motherhood so to me the bathroom makes perfect sense.

When I came out of the stall I nearly gasped when I saw two feet poking out from under another one. I had thought I had the place to myself.  I was so flabergasted that I ran out of the bathroom without washing my hands. Then, realizing that person would not only know that I didn't wash my hands, but also tentatively know exactly who I was, I jetted back in to give my hands the once over.

Slightly embarrassed, but mostly amused, I strode out of that bathroom with a purpose that night. My first shift was over and the second and most important shift was about to begin. There was a little firecracker waiting for me. She would dance and clap her hands when I walked into her classroom to pick her up. Not a full minute later, she would run down the hallway in the opposite direction screaming, "Chase you!" We would journey ten minutes home, which would turn into twenty knowing the traffic at that time of day. We would spend that time either singing to the radio or "talking" about her day. I use the word talking very loosely here on account of all the gibberish, although judging by all the nodding and emphatic gestures, she may as well have been giving the State of the Union.  There would be dinner, a bath, a book and some play time thrown in there. All of which would feel too short some nights and painfully long other nights. Either way, it was worth it. Every single night it would be worth it. She's worth it.

She's wild, untamed and rambunctious at times, but I'd rather dance in her fireworks than hide in the shadows. My little spark plug is my light and her heart glows through her eyes. She can light up a room with her laugh and can melt your heart with the smallest of smiles. For the first time in the ten years my husband and I have been together, we stayed home on the fourth of July. We  did not venture out to any BBQs, parades or firework shows. Instead, we made burgers and hot dogs with our little one who was home sick. She still let me put on her fourth of July outfit even if it was just for a short while and snuggled with us until we got ice cream to ease her sore throat.

The little kid in me was originally disappointed that our fourth would basically be indoors, but the adult in me ended the weekend being absolutely at ease and in love with my little family..... See, Mom, I've finally grown up!  I can see you roll your eyes and can hear you saying, "When you stop lighting fireworks out of your ass, I'll believe you've grown up." Mom once said that to my ex boyfriend, who used to light bottle rockets out of his bum to celebrate Independence Day.  There are reasons for exes, people. It then became an inside joke between Mom and I. So every now and then when I get the feeling I'm not acting my age, I remember those words. I mean, I'd much rather light up the sky with my heart than my bum.







Comments

  1. Wonderful journey, funny & true. And so touching how you conclude your blogs with loving tributes to Maddy!
    --Marilyn

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