Do you remember that show where the secret agent named McIver could defuse nuclear warheads with a couple of paperclips and a piece of chewing gum? Well, one thing McIver didn't do was be a single parent trying to get to a one-week work commitment out of town.
I'd had this on my calendar for months but had neglected to very specifically tell the ex that I would be gone all week. As luck would have it, it's "my" week for the kids to be at my house, and the ex and his SO had planned a trip to Mexico. This I found out a week before I absolutely had to be in Chicago for five days.
Enter single parent resourcefulness. Find the only person who can understand--another single parent--and figure it out. I have the bigger house, a new sofabed (it's an air mattress that blows up in sixty seconds) and a friend who's going through her own split and has been staying with a family member as legal proceedings drag on. My deck and extra room will be her happy place this week, I hope, despite four children on her hands.
All of this seems to be working out fine, although my children were both a little sad last night and I felt the familiar pang of maternal guilt. I'd cleaned house and bought groceries and thought about every detail I could. We had dinner last night, my friend's kids still with their dad, and then all got off to sleep by 10. I had my alarm set for 3:45. I was awake at 2:30 and didn't go back to sleep, left for the airport at 4:30 (with a car service, thank God) and was then given an extra search and a pat-down at DFW because the pants I was wearing had little buckles on them and I couldn't get through security. "This is not appropriate attire for air travel," I was informed by the jack-booted TSA lady. At five in the morning, I wasn't my most delightful self in response. I believe "you've got to be %*&!;-ing kidding me" was what came out of my mouth. Or maybe I didn't actually say it out loud. I was pretty tired.
Nap on the plane (from the looks of fellow passengers, this included catching flies and probably some drooling) then rush to the Firm office, then out to the convention centre to set up the dreaded booth. Had fabulous help in the form of a twenty-something colleague who has the energy and patience for such tasks. Off to business dinner tonight, where I must appear capable and in control. Hope I can stay awake and then make it on my 7 a.m. call, be perky all day at the trade show, run to another meeting, then to a reception tomorrow evening. At work as at home, I've got great people carrying a good of the load, so I should be fine, unless someone starts throwing up or gets really mad at me. This can happen in either context, so I'm fighting this battle on dual fronts.
My life often feels as though it's held together by paperclips and chewing gum, and some days I am amazed that it all works out. The things I worry about never seem to materialize, and it's the stuff I don't see coming that knocks me flat. Until I am actually through one of these weeks, I don't exhale. Only a dinner and four days left. As Kenny Chesney sings, I wanted it all. And that's what I got.