He fell asleep.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to visit Makenna’s school. They were hosting a book character parade in the morning & I was beside myself to have the opportunity to be present. I took the morning off from work & was ready to make this a fun day for my babe. Makenna was representing Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. We read Harry Potter every night at bedtime, it is a favorite of ours & such an incredible gift to be able to share this with her. We arrived at school to find that, not only were the children to dress as their favorite character, but they were to bring the book to which the character belongs. Guess who didn’t bring the book, this mother. Guess who was now ineffectively consoling a devastated five-year old, this mother. There was no time to run home and get the book for her so she was going to have to bear it. With Makenna in tears, I had to leave her and take my place in the hall. Feeling like I had totally blown it, I could only rely on hope, hope to see a smiling face by the time her class made it through the parade. In true Kenna fashion, she moved on from this setback & was enjoying herself by the time they made it to my end of the hall. Whew, we made it through without the morning being considered a total loss.

After the parade, the parents were invited to join the students for their Friday morning assembly. The parents were to take a seat in the back of the auditorium in rows of severely undersized chairs. I took a seat next to a man clad in Southwest Airlines gear. He looked exhausted. I smiled politely & turned from him to watch for Kenna’s incoming class with hopes to snag a kiss before I wouldn’t see her again for the rest of her school day. By the time I got that kiss, I turned back to face forward noticing the man from before fervently fighting his body from the threat of sleep. He was at that specific point where no matter what he did, sleep would come. You know the feeling, when you wiggle your legs, shift your body, attempt any movement that will suddenly cause your body to be fully awake. He was in a losing battle & my heart was breaking. The mothers on the opposite side from he & I found this incident humorous. I could only imagine their thoughts & I wanted to slap them. They made eye contact with me trying to relate to me at the expense of this man, typical mean girls. My heart was being shredded watching this man fight sleep. As I said, he was wearing Southwest Airlines gear. It would appear he had worked all night at the airport & now has found himself at a kindergarten assembly running on no sleep. In my own true form, I allowed my thoughts & feelings to start running away from my control. On the brink of tears, I was considering all the scenarios that could have led this man to be sitting next to me in this assembly, on this particular morning. I started to think about being a single parent. About times when I haven’t had anything left to give but I showed up still, for my child. Wrenched with empathy for this man, I started thinking about his child growing up & realizing the commitment this father has made to just being present. I am… overwhelmed reliving this moment now. I am communicating to you through tears at this point. Maybe this man’s child was aware of his presence & maybe they weren’t. After all, we were camouflaged in with a large group of adults positioned in the back of the room with all the children focused forward. Even still, aware or not, this man was sitting in the school auditorium supporting his child. For a few moments I was broken. suddenly I was my child self, waiting to see my parents face among all the other parents. I remembered conversations with Kenna after an event I wasn’t able to attend. These little things matter. Showing up matters & being a parent is difficult. Especially difficult if you’re on your own. I wanted to tap this man & tell him I saw him. I wanted to tell him he was doing a great job & that someone noticed his efforts on this day… I dare not wake him though. Again, for the second time today, I am left with reliance on hope alone. Since I didn’t stick around to see the outcome of this situation or have the gratification of seeing his child embrace him, I was left with my own imagination of this man’s future. I hope it is one full of rest, love, & laughter with his little. Hope & imagination are sometimes all we have.

Even as I write this blog, a woman rushes into the coffee shop I am currently occupying. It’s an early morning on a week day so the shop is buzzing. She drops her toddler off in the armchair directly next to me. The child, a little girl, is likely 3 years old. The mother instructs her daughter to stay in the seat & wait for her to return. The child politely complies & the mother rushes off to the counter to place an order. She flashed me a trusting look, to which I smiled with understanding. For a moment, she is entrusting her child to the stranger next to her without even speaking a word. The mother has a very hurried & chaotic, but kind, spirit about her. I smile at the child who is within arms reach of me. I compliment her socks, noticing the Childs shoes were off & had been placed next to her in the oversized chair. One sock was branded with the Paul Frank logo, the other had yellow tractors. When I compliment this soft-spoken child she replied with the sweetest “thank you” & she went on to inform me that it is crazy sock day at her school. My heart sank with the gentle articulation of this sweet baby girl. My heart sank because I can relate to the mother who is pressed for time with a child in tow. Another fine example of parenting in real-time.

This post is for the mommies and daddies, for the ones who show up. The universe is coming together to support you. I support you & you’re doing better than you think!

-M

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