I have written the following blog over the past two days. It is an account of my first two days back to real life. I almost didn’t publish, but then I remembered one of the reasons I decided to write this blog is to record the realities of balancing work and home. So here goes . . .
The alarm rang at 5:00 a.m. I was out the door by 6:52 and deep into my work by 8:00. I had a busy day. At 4:00 I scurried home to pick up my daughter for a piano lesson and play practice. After I dropped off Lizzy, I had to take Nathan to the Urgent Care Center (long story, but he is fine) and then off to the pharmacy for medication. We ate a quick bite at Subway and then rushed back home so that my hubby could use my jumper cables to awaken his sleeping car so that he could return to pick Lizzy up from practice. I have been home for about a half hour. It is now 9:03 p.m. and I am exhausted. Somewhere in the midst of the mayhem, my husband asked, “How was your first day back?”
It started off well. It actually felt good to take a shower and get dressed this morning. I cheerfully drank my morning tea and headed into work blasting Taylor Swift. I was happy to see the staff and the children return to school. I had a great deal of work to do and my day was really productive. I got crabby after school. I was in a rush to get home so that I could get all of my children where they needed to be. The traffic was horrendous. The roads were still very icy and slick, so drivers were really being cautious. Then I learned that my son wasn’t feeling well which added to my frustration. I was really worried about him. I had to get him to Urgent Care. As my vehicle crept along in rush hour traffic, I became more and more enraged. I just wanted to get to my destination, get my son to the doctor, and get back home. I was tired. It was a long day.
How many times do you feel like your life is just stuck in traffic? You are in such a hurry to do something or go somewhere or get something done and you can’t. You are just stuck. Every now and again you get to go a few feet and creep along, but basically you are stuck. As I sat in traffic today, the clock kept ticking away and there was nothing I could do about it. Maybe another reason we hate to be stuck in traffic is because we cannot control it. There is no way to get around or get out. We just have to patiently wait until the jam subsides. Why is it that we have to wait so long?
When I went to bed last night, I was feeling miserable. I wrote my blog, but didn’t post because I just felt like it was way too depressing. But then this morning came, and I felt a little bit better. In my favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee writes “things are always better in the morning” and yes, Friday morning was better. I had another great work day and my son was feeling a little bit better by Friday night.
Speaking of “Mockingbird” and traffic jams, my mother and I took a trip a few years ago to Monroeville, Alabama where Harper Lee grew up and modeled the fictional small, tired town of Maycomb. I have always wanted to go to Monroeville. Before I became a principal I taught high school English for 10 years. Every year in the spring, my students and I read To Kill a Mockingbird and Jem, Scout and Dill became my own personal friends. I have such precious memories of sharing this novel with my students and no matter how many times I read and studied the book, I always cried when I read the final chapter. For years, I wanted to take my students to the town and watch a re-enactment of the play which is performed every year in the Old Courthouse. Harper Lee grew up watching her father try cases in this courthouse. It truly was a magical moment when I walked into that courthouse for the first time. A piece of history came to life as I observed the dark mahogany colored wood, the spiraling balcony and the judges podium. The town was very small, very desolate, and empty. In the center of what looked like was once a small, charming tourist town, stood the beautiful Old Courthouse.
My mom and I set out on “our longest journey ever.” We were so very excited when we hit the road and began driving South. We listened to music, had great conversation in the car, laughed and enjoyed the scenery of small, quiet country towns. About half way to Monroeville, we stopped at a truck stop to make a phone call to the Old Courthouse. The actress who played the role of Scout would be giving tours of the fictional “Maycomb” and my Mom and I wanted to see if tickets were still available. That phone call started the mayhem that would continue to plague us for the rest of the trip. Mary Badham, the actress, was ill and could not make the trip. We had already paid big bucks for a special evening with Mary and a dinner. We truly were disappointed, but tried to stay positive as we continued our journey. When we got to the town, we checked into our hotel and then decided to get some dinner. Much to our surprise, the town is literally shut down except for a few hours a day. All of the local restaurants were closed and we found one small place to get some sandwiches. The next day we visited the magical courthouse and learned that visitors can get car tour maps to drive around and tour some of the local historical sites. We drove for miles to see Harper Lee’s residence, some old log homes, some historical churches, an old school, and an old mill. When we got to the mill, it was closed for repair. I remembered that we laughed and laughed because our trip did not go as planned. On the eve of the Mockingbird play, mother nature decided to rain. I remember one of the actors saying that in all the years the play was performed, this was only the second time it had rained. It felt like the chapter in Mockingbird when the children first see snow! The set of the play was outside on the courthouse lawn and so the first entire Act had to be cut out. We were all seated in the courthouse and the play began with Act 2. Afterwards, we attended a reception with the actors and tents had to be set up so that we could visit. All in all, much like my first day back to work, our trip didn’t go as planned.
The next morning, we were in quite a hurry to go back home. My children were calling and asking “How much longer until you get home?” We left on Saturday and Mother’s Day was the next morning. I was determined we would drive straight through and get home, until we reached the main highway and became stuck in the worst traffic jam I have ever been in my entire life! We sat completely parked for at least 5 hours. There was no movement, no end in sight, nothing we could do but sit. My son kept calling my phone asking “How long until you come home Mommy?” I was so frustrated! When we finally did reach an exit, everyone was getting off, including about 50 semi-trucks so the back route was just as treacherous. There was so much traffic, time continued to idly tick by.
Finally, after hours and hours of torture, we decided to check into a hotel for the night and start fresh in the morning. My son was really disappointed and I felt really bad, but there was nothing more I could do. But, things are always better in the morning. My mom and I finally made it home, and now we laugh as we recount our adventure to Monroeville.
I have no regrets. It was a wonderful trip, despite all of the complications. I got to spend time with my mother and visit one of my favorite historical places! I got to see history in the desolate town and surrounding sights. Even though I only got to see half of the play, the actors and actresses where phenomenal and I will never forget it.
Traffic sometimes gets in the way of our lives. I suppose the way we deal with traffic is most important. We will encounter many, many traffic jams in our lives. I think we just have to remember that “things are always better in the morning.”