Sometimes there’s just no time. Not in the exaggerated sense of, I could be doing something more productive, but instead I can’t miss the next episode of the Breaking Bad marathon. Sometimes, you’re doing something productive. Sometimes you are actually doing those things that the world deems valuable. You’re working, creating, managing, making mergers, planning meetings, planning trips, writing business plans. Sometimes you’re spending so much time planning and producing, you don’t get a chance to – live.
That’s how I felt this weekend. The people closest to me know how I am. I’m usually at my happiest and most miserable when I’m working. It’s a complication of emotions that makes me a workaholic at times. I tell myself to say yes to the new opportunity, to delete the old, rewrite the draft, record another take. I had so much work to get through this weekend that I shut myself up in my room, alone with my iPad and a microphone to record my voice for an online seminar. But I wasn’t alone in that room, really. For one, I was in there with my cat Teela. But more significantly, I was in there with my twin demons of hyper-perfectionism and abject slackerdom.
I found myself tangled in an emotional web that went back and forth about wanting to redo each take because I knew that just one more would make it sound so much better, would have that much more meaning and wanting to just hit “save” when I had barely gotten the words out correctly because I was so tired, so frustrated and especially, so hungry.
I had locked myself in my room with my ambition, plans and expectations, while the world I had already built and nourished was forced to be on the other side of that door. I locked out everything I already loved in exchange for what I hoped to one day love.
Sofi and Max basically spent the weekend motherless. It makes for a kind of guilt that I think is particular to us working single moms. It was one of those moments where you make the decision to shut them out, leave them without your attention because you believe in your heart that you’re investing in the future you want to give them, the life you want to be able to provide. It’s the kind of small, piercing decision that breaks your heart every single time.
So after having provided meals from frozen boxes all weekend in order to dedicate more time to my job, Sofi presented me with a challenge I couldn’t escape.
“Mami, my Spanish project is due tomorrow. We have to take food. Remember?”
I hadn’t remembered. In the midst of all the work, recording, writing, bill paying and life living, Sofi’s Spanish project had escaped my mind. But there was no way I was going to look into those beautiful round brown eyes and say anything other than
“Of course, I remember”.
Now what to do? I had a deadline to meet, no time for the grocery store, no time to chop or prep. Still, there was my little girl with a poster board full of all kinds of facts on Nicaragua. A poster board she had put together all week alone because her mom was working. A poster board that with the most gorgeous crayon outlines and misplaced accents you’ll ever see. It was a poster board that was breaking my heart. And that poster board was going to get the food it deserved to get my girl her A!
After googling all the different and delicious dishes from Nicaragua that I’d never have time to make, I got up from behind my computer to get a drink of water and there on the right side of my kitchen counter, like some kind of appliance epiphany, sat the empanada maker!
Yes! They eat empanadas in Nicaragua!
Now in all honesty, I don’t know if it’s a fair representation of Nicaraguan cuisine, but to those big brown eyes holding that big white poster board of facts, the thought of having her hands in a bowl of guava and goat cheese was enough to make the room light up.
So that’s what we did – rather, that’s what SHE did. She mixed the goat cheese, guava and olive oil. She cheerfully laid out the empanada discs and filled and folded them. She preheated the empanada maker, set the kitchen timer and safely completed her project.
“They look great!” she said.
“Yes they do” I replied.
After we wiped down the counters, wrapped the empanadas in foil and got everything ready for school the next day, I gave her a kiss and sent her off to bed.
I went off to my own room, reflected on how proud of her I was, how mature and independent she can be. Then I quietly wiped the tears from my face and got back to work.