Sometimes I feel like as parents we are always waiting for our children to need us. We wait for them to get in the car in the morning. We wait in the carpool line. We wait for them to text us, email us or call us to tell us where and when they want us to pick them up. We wait for them at sporting events or at their other extracurricular activities.
Oftentimes, I don’t even realize I’m waiting to be needed because I’m so busy doing something else like working, cleaning or sleeping. But just when I fool myself into thinking I might have a free moment to accomplish something, I get the call to duty from homework help to filling out school forms to navigating the complex social plans of a 14-year-old girl who thinks I am her personal chauffeur.
“Mom, I need blue poster board tonight for a project I’m doing with a group at school,” my younger daughter exclaimed in a panic on the phone. I had just finished teaching a writing class at a local library after a long day at work and was headed home to eat for the first time in seven hours.
“OK, tonight?” I replied, trying not to let her hear the fatigue in my voice. I opened the glove compartment and rummaged around for a stray leftover piece of Halloween candy to satisfy my extreme hunger.
“Yes, tonight. Please, Mom. I really need it.”
Apparently, there was a rush on blue poster board because I went to three stores and could not find it anywhere.
“How about another color?” I asked her over the phone as I crouched in the school supplies aisle in Walmart pulling apart the piles of poster boards hoping someone had mistakenly shoved a blue one in between the yellow ones.
“Text me a picture of what they have,” she said with a sigh.
So, here I was at 9:30 at night laying out poster boards on the floor in Walmart and taking pictures of them to send to my discerning 11-year-old.
“Can you zoom out a little so I can see the colors better?” read her text response to my picture.
I ended up splitting the difference and buying a tie-dye poster board with blue swirls throughout.
The needs of children as they grow up are more complex, but are just as immediate as a newborn’s need for a bottle. So, what I am learning is that its best not to make too many plans while I’m waiting to be needed because the next crisis is surely just around the corner.
“So did the poster board work?” I ask her the next night. I had seen her carefully roll it up and take it to school that morning.
“Nope,” she says with a shrug. “Another mother is going to get it.”
Good luck, I think.
“Mom!” I hear my other daughter’s muffled yell from behind her bedroom door before I even have a chance to take off my coat. I shake my weary head and remind myself there will come a day when they won’t need me as much as they do now and I will long for these days.
So, I wait …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.