A few weeks ago a girlfriend sent a text to me and another woman about picking a date to coordinate a ladies night out to celebrate the holidays.
“I want to make sure the date works for you guys before I send it out to the whole group,” she texted us. We went back and forth about a couple of dates but pretty much I was like, “Everything works. I’m good.”
We settled on next Wednesday, Dec. 17 and she sent out a big group text and a whole thread ensued about who can make it and who still needed to find a babysitter. I was secretly pleased that I no longer really needed a sitter, my high school girl could handle herself and her brother for the night, and I thought about what I was going to wear instead.
So last Sunday I stood in the cold with the girls night organizer and another friend listening to the middle school chorus sing holiday tunes before the annual lighting of our town tree. The subject of our night out came up and we all stood shivering and agreed that our destination would be fun and then the other mom said she was still having a hard time finding a sitter.
My 17yo had just arrived from work and walked over to join our circle. I turned to her and asked her what she was doing that night — thinking maybe she could watch my friend’s kids — and then I stopped myself and said, “Wait, she’ll be watching my little kid!”
We all started to laugh and my daughter asked, “What night is this, anyway?”
“The 17th,” the organizer told her.
“Oh,’ said my daughter, giving me a look, “you mean your son’s birthday?”
“Amy!” shouted the organizer, “you told me you were free that night!”
“I thought I was!”
And right on cue, the 17yo said, “You’re a terrible mother.”
“I have a learning disability you guys,” I continued, trying to recover, “I can’t remember things.”
And then I thought a little bit more and observed, “And I don’t even have a job.” In the past, I would use that as an excuse for my forgetfulness; for when I dropped the ball somewhere in my life. And with only two kids living at home right now, I couldn’t even pull the ol’ “I’ve got four kids” card out of my back pocket.
Now I didn’t even have that to blame.
Maybe I was just legit stupid.
At that, the teenager grabbed the car keys out of my coat pocket and said, “That’s it. I’m taking the car and driving home,” and she stormed off into the crowd.
The other moms and I laughed and I promised that I’d still be there, albeit after the obligatory trip to the local hibachi place to celebrate a 12th birthday.
I told the story to another girlfriend as we exercised the next day in my living room and she shook her head when I got to the part about forgetting my kid’s birthday and I repeated the “learning disabled” bit.
“Maybe you need an IEP,” she suggested and that really got us laughing but then I thought, “That’s not such a bad idea.”
An IEP is shorthand for the Individualized Education Program that’s tailored for students who are classified in school with some type of challenge that’s getting in between them and learning. Like, I could really use having somebody sit down with me and kind of help me sort through my life, identifying the things that challenge me – like arriving anywhere on time or dropping my son off at the wrong place – and figuring out ways to overcome them.
We’d call it my ILP (Individualized Life Plan), which would be a grown up version of the IEP and my kids could even have a copy of it to make modifications as we discover future challenges.
Or maybe I could just pay better attention to things.
I checked my phone as the concert ended and Santa screeched by on the firetruck, its sirens blaring and lights flashing in the darkening December sky, and saw that my daughter had texted that she was sitting in the car waiting for me.
I searched through the crowd for my son and we headed out to the parking lot behind the borough hall. I opened the door and slipped into the warm car and my daughter said, “Seriously, Amy.”
“I know, dude,” I said. “But isn’t it part of my charm?”
We laughed about it during the quick drive home and I thought of ways of breaking it to my son that I would be going out for a little bit after hibachi next week.
That is, if I remember.
Give yourself the gift of Amy. Don’t worry, I’m not jumping out of a box Christmas morning. But you can sign up to get all my posts sent directly to your inbox. Just plug your email into the “receive new post in your inbox.” Oh, p.s., it’s free.