The terrible horrible day
I recently read Lean In in which Sheryl Sandberg encourages us to challenge the standing stereotype of the frazzled working mother; I was all set to do this…and then Monday happened.
The day began with our au pair having an asthma attack so I called a taxi and headed straight to the A&E, dropping my daughter off with a friend who generously agreed to take her to school. I knew this would mean I would miss a morning full of calls and meetings, but I also knew it was important to be there for my au pair – after all, England is not her home country and English is not her native language. One chest x-ray, two nebulizers and five hours later, her breathing was declared stable and we were released. To add to the drama, while at the hospital I learned that my daughter, who is prone to car sickness, had thrown up in my friend’s car (cross him off the list of people to ask for rides). Then, and perhaps most distressing of all, one of the nurses mistook the au pair for my daughter. She is 18, so yes, I suppose it isbiologically possible, but surely I seem far too young - I mean, I have a Snapchat account, I watch Girls, I subscribe to Lenny - I’m basically just a millennial born prematurely.
When we left the hospital, I attempted to reclaim my day and head to work. I left in a rush with the intent to do my makeup in transit only to have my Brand New Very Expensive foundation spill in my bag. I found myself on a train scraping foundation off my laptop and smearing it on my face – an application technique endorsed by no You Tuber ever.
I arrived at work only to learn that my visa request to visit a country for business travel had been denied; I’ve been rejected by boys I’ve wanted to date, businesses I wanted to hire me and brands I have pitched for – but by a country? And such a large and populous one. This was rejection on a whole new scale.
When I shared my experiences with a friend, who is also my boss (fross? Do people say that these days?), I mentioned that I felt like the working mother character in some mediocre airport-bought paperback. She reminded me that I would also need to be running in heels and carrying a cake with a bouquet of helium balloons. Of course. This scene is set for the movie poster featuring Reece Witherspoon as the harried-but-lovable mother, starring in the film version of this blog, once it gets optioned.
To create some perspective I try to classify days into those I love, those I learn from and those I laugh at. Days you love are the ones you want to capture for forever on Facebook, Instagram, or in your actual memory bank. The days you learn from can be great or terrible, but when you look back on them you realize there is something that happened that led you to change your perspective or occasionally your actions. There is no life lesson to be taken from my Terrible, Horrible Day – I just need to find the humor in my mini misfortunes and be able to laugh them off. Caitlin Moran recently wrote a letter offering posthumous advice to her daughter (yes, a bit morbid I know) encouraging her to look at even the most appalling experience as future anecdotes. So, as long as there is a story (or a blog) in the experience it is worth going through.
When I think back on my day, I need to accept that some days I am a frazzled, working mother and that’s why the stereotype exists and persists. The best way to handle it is to take sage advice from Taylor Swift and ‘Shake It Off’ (see, I told you I was young!)