I am sitting on one of the big comfy chairs at the Bridgehead coffee shop with just the right slant of late afternoon November sun backlighting the steam rising from my café au lait. This is the five-minute slice of my life that I am savouring and pretending—if I close my eyes just so and squint, the way you do to see things slant—to own as reality. But this five-minute slice belies the three-hour hunk where you would have found me huddled with Jessie in our teeny tiny bathroom holding her sweaty head as she retched, for hours, over the toilet.
Forward to 8 am phone calls trying to rearrange her day and buy some space for her to recover, while still meeting some of her commitments, particularly those that would have caused her great distress to miss. We settle on the noon-time speech on employment and mentoring for the Women in Leadership meeting and a pared down afternoon dance rehearsal for an upcoming funder meeting, and we punt the morning meeting with a mentor to work on a speech and the evening performance at the university students' union. Then, I rearrange my day to make it all possible, which, in order to give Jessie an exit strategy just in case she feels sick again, means putting my client’s work on the back burner and becoming chauffeur and accompanist.
So, what started out as a full day of work (because Jessie would have been out on the road doing what she loves best all day, and getting to and fro on her own) quickly bled away until all that was left was the chance for a quick pencil edit, in the coffee shop, of a two-page summary.
The trick, of course, is not to hold on to expectations, but to be nimble and quick in shifting gears and not holding anyone hostage in the transition. The trick then, is not to wonder how you would ever hold down a job that wasn’t freelance or to count the hours not billed, but to roll over wonder that you got to sleep in (never mind that you only got four hours sleep) and wake with the sunlight dappling the trees. To sneak into the Women in Leadership meeting and listen to a wonderful discussion about mentoring women and people with disabilities and to the talented and bright and energetic youth with Down syndrome captivating the audience with their dreams, hopes, talents, aspirations, and challenges in finding employment and careers. And to sit in a coffee shop with a café au lait and a newspaper horoscope that reads:
If I am not fulfilled, at least my horoscope is—because being Jessie’s mother certainly ensures that I don’t “waste my day entirely on work.”