A Labor of Love Weekend

I've blown my nose at least 20 times today and I'm convinced there's still some pieces of tire tread still in there.

I didn't want to go. I dreaded it all week. The crowds. The heat. The late night. The noise.
The stairs. But, yet, I went.

There are things that intimidate me as a single mom. Like sending my little boy into a public restroom with two exits that I can't see at the same time. Changing the well filter knowing that a few short weeks ago a snake had claimed the well house as his home. The fact that the garage door tried to eat itself the other night and now won't close at all. Those are the times that I feel most alone. Those times when a single mom just wants to sit in a corner and cry. I usually don't cry though because at the end of the day I don't have enough energy to cry.

Venturing out alone with your kids to the overwhelming sensory experience that is a NASCAR race is one of those intimidating experiences.

I've found that sometimes it is those things that I dread doing the most as a mom that tend to yield the biggest returns and this experiencedidn't fall short.

There are few things that can convince me to spend a day in searing heat and bouts of rain in a sea of people. Even fewer things that can convince me to stay up until 3 a.m. and awake the next day with aching legs from climbing a gazillion stairs -- multiple times for bathroom trips and pizza. 

My ears are still bleeding. 

There are few reasons I would endure those things. The best one is the sight of my little boy's face at a NASCAR race.

One of the things that struck me most about our race weekend was how few single moms were there. At first I didn't notice. But, the kind smiles of people we passed, the random acts of kindness from older men who either looked amused or impressed,
eventually brought it my notice. There just weren't a lot of women roaming around sans husband/boyfriend/father/grandfather with their kids in tow. 

I spent more time watching my son's face during the race than I did the cars whizzing by at dizzying speeds. This morning, drunk from lack of sleep and a few brain cells less from inhaling fumes, I found reward in the first words my boy spoke when he finally awoke at noon. "Thank you for taking me to the race." A simple thank you. But, there was nothing simple about what it meant to me as a mom.

It's Labor Day weekend. A day off. Single moms pretty much never get a day off. We're lucky to get a decent night's sleep or time to shave our legs. A day off for us usually involves sickness bad enough to involve an ambulance.

Today I'm thinking about people who spend their whole lives not working for a living but living to work. (This is not to be confused with the concept of liking what you do for a living.) People who have let their priorities somehow get skewed. I believe that while I have a successful career, what I do during the day is just what I do when I'm away from my real life -- being with the people I love.

I think I was born a workaholic. Early on, I worked well over 40 hours a week and went to college at night. I burned the candle at both ends and in the middle to be sure that I was doing it right.

But, when I became a wife and then a mom, the priorities were clear. My "job" wasn't what defined me. 

I recently told someone that having a career and having a life as a single parent is hard to manage. My personality is to give over 100% to everything. My reality is that 100% isn't possible. I manage by giving everything about 90%, on average. There are times that my career gets more. There are times that my relationships and life get more. But, I shoot for about 90% overall. No one seems to notice the loss of 10%.

Today is Labor Day. It is the perfect day to celebrate your family. Consider it a Labor of Love Day. 

And, maybe a a great day for some people to reassess their priorities. 

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