45: A Reality Check

45: A Reality Check

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

A Reality Check

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

~John Lennon

A combined stay-at-home/work-from-home mom to two boys, my days often seem like a three-ring circus. This particular day was no different. With my younger son picked up from preschool and down for a nap, I sank into my chair in front of my computer, determined to complete a project before my fourth-grader arrived home from school. Unlike some afternoons, I actually found myself being very productive. As I pressed the “Save” button and congratulated myself on a job well done, I glanced at the clock: 3:00.

I quickly sprang from my chair and walked to the front door. Where was Skylar? His bus drops him off a few hundred feet from our house at 2:40 every day. I thought he must have been in the yard; maybe he was petting the neighbor’s dog that regularly stops by our house to play with the boys. I opened the door and walked down our front steps, scanning the property. No sign of him. I walked down the length of our driveway, past the tree line, to see if perhaps he was merely daydreaming and taking his sweet time coming home, but still no sign of him.

Then I wondered if he went to his friend’s house down the road without telling me. Annoyed by the possibility of my older son going somewhere without asking permission first, I called the friend’s mother. When she didn’t answer and I got her voicemail, I realized that they weren’t home so Skylar wasn’t there, either. After calling another neighbor who had not seen him, my annoyance began to turn to guilt. Why had I gotten so involved in my work that I neglected to keep track of time and watch my son get off the bus like I normally did every day? If I had only paid attention, I would know what had happened to him.

My guilt suddenly turned to alarm when I thought about his medical condition. A Type 1 diabetic since the age of six, Skylar’s life depends on multiple daily doses of insulin and constant monitoring of his blood sugar levels. If his levels are too high, he experiences excessive thirst and becomes nauseous. If his levels are too low, he becomes shaky, cannot concentrate, and must immediately consume a sugary substance such as soda, juice or glucose tablets to prevent his blood sugar from dropping so low as to cause a blackout or seizure. Although he carries his testing supplies with him, his juice is kept at school and on the bus, not in his backpack.

Remembering the phone in my hand, I called the school.

“Hi, I’m calling to learn if Skylar got on the bus this afternoon.”

“Let me check for you; please hold a minute,” the man said. As I waited, I paced the perimeter of our property and checked the time again: 3:15. Where was he?

“Yes, ma’am,” the man responded. “The teacher said he got in line for the bus today.”

Trying to swallow the lump of panic rising within me, I explained the situation to him.

“I’ll call the school bus driver,” he offered. “But it may take five or ten minutes to hear back from him because they’re not allowed to talk on the phone while they drive, you know.” The safety rule, which I normally applauded, only frustrated me at that point.

“Okay, but please call me as soon as you hear from him,” I begged before hanging up. Where was my son? Could the unthinkable really have happened?

I was still pacing in my yard when the phone finally rang. “Yes?” I almost shouted into the receiver.

“Umm, ma’am.” the man hesitated, seemingly unsure of how to share his news. No, no, no, this can’t be happening, I thought. I could barely breathe; my worst fears were about to be confirmed.

Clearing his throat, he continued cautiously: “It appears we were wrong. You signed a permission slip for Skylar to stay after school today to practice for the Battle of the Books competition. He’s in the library.”

Silence on both ends of the line.

“Oh. yes, the Battle of the Books,” I mumbled, red-faced, as my memory immediately recalled the after-school activity. Thank you, God!

Almost in tears from the overwhelming combination of relief and extreme embarrassment, I hung up the phone and made my way inside to wake up his younger brother. Then and there, I determined to do a better job of updating my daily planner and carving out more time with each of my precious boys.

~Dalene Bickel

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