“Just drive, Mom."
It was a moment of triumph on a day when everything seemed so lost.
My hair would not lie flat, the earrings I needed were in my wallet instead of the jewelry box, and I had to be eight places at once.
As usual, the house was disgusting.
I arrived late at the office I use once a week, hoping to borrow a desk from a woman who's almost never there, although on this day she was.
I didn't have a list of projects for my boss. No one I needed would take my calls.
And, yes, there was more bad news about the economy.
You hear yourself saying things like, "I don't work near Starbucks anymore. That's like a pay raise!" You grab for that rainbow with both fists, but it just vanishes over the horizon.
And on top of everything else, the oldest child wants to start driving.
I had decided, months earlier, to do one right thing. And so I pledged: No more phone calls from behind the wheel.
It sounds great in theory, but I challenge you: Watch the left-turning drivers the next time you're first in line at a red light on a major intersection. Count how many have phones to their ears.
Then consider how tempting it is to fill those chunks of 20 and 40 driving minutes with conversation, confirming that dentist appointment or checking up on Mom and Dad up North.
Getting my family on board was almost as hard. "Why don't you answer your phone?" they would ask, and they would look at me like I had two heads when I answered, "I'm driving."
But gradually, the kids got used to the sound of the phone ringing inside the purse. "Answer it," I'd tell them. And they would. They would tell the caller, my husband or anyone else, "She's driving."
So on that day of so many little annoyances, on top of which came a last-minute schedule change, I sent my daughter a text:
"Catch a ride to Grandma's house."
I wondered if she would have some harebrained idea to wait for me at school, or ask to be driven to a friend's house, or whatever. So I called to check in. She cut me off. We'll talk later, she said.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 909-4602 or firstname.lastname@example.org.