Life is funny sometimes.
My life, in particular, tends to overperform in this category. I often refer to the story of my life as “a romantic comedy without the romance.” The Plot Twist series sheds a tiny little spotlight on to some of the moments that make me laugh… so that I don’t cry…
Fourth grade in Central Florida signals several milestones; it’s the year before our kids become kings of their proverbial castles aka top dawgs aka fifth graders. Most of the local elementary schools house grades K-5 with middle school starting at sixth grade. Fourth is the year that they prepare for their grand rising, counting down the months/days/moments until they finally get to reach the pinnacle of the elementary school hierarchy. It’s also the year of the big field trip: St.Augustine, the oldest city in the nation. It’s full of history and adorable and kind of a right of passage around here. My son, like most every fourth grade student in our area, had been looking forward to that field trip all year long. On field trip day, they leave from school extra early, make the 3 hour trip in style on comfy charter busses, explore the ancient city all day long learning the history, shopping the kitschy gift shops, eating homemade candies and fudge and then head home, exhausted, older and wiser around dinner time. Oh, the independence! The adventure! The day off from school! The thrill of it all! He could hardly wait. Finally, the time had arrived.
Thursday night before his big trip, I set my alarm for the next morning to go off at 5:30am so that we could get to the school by 7:00am to put him on the bus and wave goodbye. I tucked my boys into bed and snuck back out to my office to finish a blog. Time slipped away and before I knew it, midnight had come and gone. I sleepily drug myself to bed, dreading the alarm that would be going off in just a few short hours.
I was jolted from a dead sleep by the sound of knocking on my bedroom door. “Mom. Is it time to get read for school yet?” My eyes shot open to a bright, sunny room. Oh shit. I grabbed my phone and checked the time; 6:48am. Calculations ran through my groggy brain. We live at least 35 minutes from the school. The bus was pulling out of the parking lot at 7:15am. I had two children to get dressed, fed and out the door. Nope. It wasn’t happening. Shit. “Mom…” What had happened was, the alarm that I set to go off that morning was my work alarm. I don’t work on Fridays. That alarm doesn’t go off on Fridays. We overslept.
“I’m so sorry… I’m the worst mom ever… We missed the bus.” The look on his face crushed me and I knew that answer wasn’t going to fly.
“Oh. Okay. It’s alright.” He said gloomily.
My child is so sweet and understanding. It’s amazing how much they love us, how much they look up to us, how they are willing to forgive us for making them miss the BEST field trip of their elementary school lives. He would have let me off the hook, but I’m not really the kind of mom that just gives up. So I jumped out of bed and sprung into action.
“Get dressed! Brush your teeth! I don’t know what we’re doing, but just get ready!” I barked orders as I grabbed my phone and dialed the school, eventually getting through to one of the fourth grade teachers.
I explained the situation to her as I paced around the house, numbers and times still racing through my head. The only way to get him on that field trip was to make the 2 hour drive from my house and meet the buses at exactly 10am. “I’m the worst mom ever” I said in desperation. “Yeah” she replied. (eyeroll) Looking at the time, I realized that I couldn’t get my youngest to school AND make it to the meeting point on time. So, I had an Oprah moment:
“YOU’RE going to St.Augustine and YOU’RE going to St.Augustine and I’M going to St.Augustine and we’re ALL going to St.Augustine!!
My youngest grabbed his backpack and loaded it full of snacks. His priorities aren’t wrong at all. And we jumped in the car, setting up for our mini road trip. We drove through Starbucks for some very necessary Friday Fuel and we were off.
It was right about this time that the gratitude began to sneak in.
Even though my plan for the day had been completely thrown out the window, I wasn’t going to accomplish anything productive, it was going to be way over my pre-determined budget for the day, I was exhausted and annoyed, I was still able to see that even this mess was a blessing. I gave thanks to the Universe for my willingness to see things differently. I found so much gratitude for the life that allows me to be off work on Fridays and therefore, allowed me to take this detour and get my son to his field trip after all. I found gratitude for the opportunity to spend the day exploring and hanging out with my youngest, a luxury that we don’t often find. This was not my plan for the day, but I knew that it was all alright.
Two hours and a $15 entry fee later, we were pulling in to the St. Augustine Visitor Center parking garage just in time to meet up with my big boy’s fourth grade glass. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that I hadn’t completely ruined his young life and that all of this would make a funny story for them to tell later on. Maybe it would help them to remember how much their mom loved them and sacrificed for them. Maybe it would teach them to roll with the punches and to look on the bright side. Maybe I should do something about that damn alarm. Maybe…
Seriously, though life is full of plot twists! You’ll never find a way of living that completely eliminates them (and if you do, please share with the class as the rest of us will just be wandering around out here trying not to lose our shit though all of the twists and turns) but you can learn how acceptance of your situation. You can learn how to lean in to the uncomfortable, to the changes, to the surprises and to find the gratitude in even the most difficult times. That’s what this spirituality stuff is really all about- choosing to see life through the lens of love rather fear, anger, hate, anxiety, regret. So next time life throws a detour into your plans, take a deep breath, regroup and lean in. Also, large amounts of coffee don’t hurt. You got this.