I signed up as a volunteer for Avery’s field day. I kept my calendar clear for the early June day. Then the event was cancelled twice on account of rain. It was rescheduled for this past Monday, which had me scowling and fretting and considering backing out. I didn’t because I’d enjoyed too many family dinners with Ave breathlessly gushing about which things she might do.
When field day finally came and I was prepping to leave with Finley in tow, I recalled how I’d been drenched in sweat at Briar’s field day. Anticipating heat, I brought drinks, but no coats; snacks, but no blanket. It was freezing and no one was thirsty. I awkwardly propped a dusty, frilly, lavender umbrella in front of Finley to block the wind and placed a rumpled hoodie of mine, that I’d found under the passenger seat of my car, over her shoulders.
It wasn’t ideal, I slouched from the sensation that even when I take time off work to participate in school things, I still somehow come up short. Since the first day back to work after Briar’s birth, I have felt split between female co-workers without kids and stay-at-home-moms. There is no judgment other than my perception that I don’t fit in either camp. I tried to shake it off and give myself credit that I was at Field Day. I was there to help usher the kids from one station to the next. I cheered Avery on as she competed in the sack race and the long jump. I saw her win a race. I saw her get teased for not winning another. I gave her a proud nod and coached her to ignore taunts. I felt like I was suited up and in the mom game.
The next day I attended Avery’s kindergarten graduation. It was scheduled for 10am, which meant with getting Briar to school by 8:50, there was no way to drive the ten minutes to work and get anything done in the 20 minutes I’d have before I’d need to turn around and get back to the school. I went with Finley, met up with the rest of Ave’s audience (Nana and Jeannie, who have watched the girls through the half day gauntlet and Ashley, who spent many months covering the gaps while I worked and the girls were home from preschool-) and waited for Sean. He came at the stroke of 10 and slipped into the seat next to me.
We watched the video, complete with the requisite songs intended to wrench the tears from your eyes. I watched frame after frame of events I did not miss work to attend—pumpkin patch, nature walk, picnic and on and on. I saw Avery beaming from the back of a truck I’d never seen, I saw her bent in concentration as she made a craft that I saw for the first time when it came home in her backpack. I could still feel the wind from the previous day’s field activities, still had dirt under my fingers from the play we’d done in our front yard building “borrower huts” and yet as I watched the faces of the moms I see at every event, the ones who arrive at pick up before me and carry in special trays of cupcakes I don’t have time to bake as I scramble to get the girls unbuckled, I put my forehead wrinkles to work. Faced with the montage of special moments from the kindergarten year, I felt there was more missed than more attended.
I read The Atlantic article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,“ and then I read the flurry of comments about how tiresome the argument about whether we can or can’t have it all really is. I don’t think we’ll ever be done talking about this, anymore then we’ll ever really be done questioning if it’s possible to have it all. Having it all, I have to believe, is a matter of perspective. I mean what is all?
Is it being thin?
All of the above?
I certainly don’t have it all, but then again, I do. I have these three beautiful children, I have a wonderful husband and incredible business partners. I have the flexibility to attend some of my kids’ events and the ability to involve them in owning a business. I have things that I am working toward, things that I am getting better at and stuff that scares me shitless—all of which make me feel alive.
It may be oversimplified, but I think it beats the endless in-fighting—instead of trying to figure out if we can have it all, why don’t we focus on all that we have.