Each spring, my elementary school would have a "spring festival." My school had two sets of grades K-6, and each of the classes would work jointly work on a special program to be performed outside on the basketball court. There were bleachers on the edges of the blacktop where the parents would sit as they watched our brief performances.
I remember that my kindergarten program had something to do with a shoemaker ("pull that thread, pull that thread, see my shoes so nice and clean, come my partner skip with me"). I wore a large paper sole hanging on a string around my neck. One year, my class performance had something to do with tulips. The teacher brought in several sets of some real wooden shoes, and oh, how I really, really wanted to be one of the girls who got to stand in front of the class and dance in them. But, since I couldn't seem to remember which direction I was supposed to spin when we practiced, even though I did have one of the better scuff/kicks, I didn't get that role (damn). I still remember the tulip song, but alas, I probably would still spin the wrong way. One year, we had a May pole, weaving in and out to make a multicolor design. Still another, our teachers had our class carry picket signs protesting pollution. (Eh. That wasn't one of the better programs, but I suppose that creativity runs dry when it's drawn on year after year after year.)
My mom always came. After my brother was born, he came too. I remember really wanting my father to come, but he said that he would have had to take a sick day and just couldn't afford to do that. He never came, and that was just how it was. But, when the time came to retire, my father had eight months of sick leave banked. Eight months! (Those were the days.) But he couldn't spare even one day for me. In fairness, he always came to our evening music concerts, but I never forgot his absence at those spring festivals.
My dad has been retired for a long time now. He can't believe that I still remember this. It makes him chuckle. He tells me to lighten up. I suppose I should.
Now I'm the parent. And I'm the one who is working. And working. And working. The last ten months have been a bit of hell on earth. Too much to do. Not enough time to do it. And no one is happy, no matter what I do, because there aren't enough hours in the day and it's just been too much for one person. I've been to the doctor several times now for different issues, only to be told that the very real physical symptoms I've been feeling are "just" stress. Which is actually kind of funny, since I'm one of those people who has always said (and really believed) that stress is for wimps. Except, well, I guess it's not apparently, because I'm certainly not a wimp.
More importantly, I've been missing out on spending time with my daughter. My precious daughter, who has been saying things like "mommy, please, let's spend the night together tonight, please? Please?" Meaning please-spend-every-second-with-me-from-the-time-you-walk-in-the-door-until-I-close-my-eyes-to-go-to-sleep-even-if-it's-not-much-time-because-I-don't-feel-that-I-matter-to-you-anymore. Go me. I totally s*ck.
So, in recognition of what is actually important in my life, I have declared tomorrow to be (trumpets please) . . . "DD and Mommy" day. I will be sick (cough cough cough). And we are going to spend the day recuperating . . . er . . . doing whatever we want. Manicure. Movie. Painting a ceramic whatever. Going to lunch. Doesn't matter. It's our day. I've already secretly calendared one day in July, and one in August, which will also be designated as "DD and Mommy" days. And I intend to keep those appointments.
Because after I'm gone, I hope that she remembers that I called in sick, just for her. Because it's important. Because she's important. More important that any of the cr*p that I might do at work. Frankly, don't we all know deep down that no matter what we do at work, we are ultimately replaceable? And isn't it strange that we spend so much energy and time on things that don't matter in the end, at the expense of what is really important? How backward is that?
So, think of us tomorrow as we celebrate. (And you have our permission to take the day off too. Pass it on.)