I constantly feel the pull of work vs. life. It’s a strong one, but luckily work allows life to win as often as it can.
One such example was Friday, when I was able to take the morning off to be a chaperone for my son’s first field trip. I had about two weeks left of work before maternity leave and at least a month’s worth of work, the only other reporter in my department was on vacation and my editor was doing her best to prepare to be gone for a week of vacation herself. But without hesitation she said, “Go, take the time off. Have a great time and be careful!”
Not only are my co-workers pretty accommodating, they all are a bunch of mother hens to this pregnant chick.
I’m not sure if Miles will remember moments like this in 10, 20 or 30 years, but I know I certainly will.
When I heard that St. Theresa’s preschool through second grade would be taking a field trip (Miles’ first-ever) I quickly asked his teacher if they needed any chaperones. I’m not sure if they really did, but thankfully the kind Mrs. Bartley graciously said, “Of course,” giving me permission to tag along.
The students all piled onto a big yellow school bus, another first for Miles. We talked about that part of the field trip the night before because I wanted him to be prepared. I was trying to squash any potential fears of doing something different. But there was nothing even remotely scary about the school bus, well unless you count the frighteningly ridiculous number of times he asked about when he got to ride it between bedtime Thursday and school drop off Friday morning.
All the parents were to meet the kids and the bus at the destination — Goebel’s Farm in rural Vanderburgh County. I was anxiously waiting outside of my car, camera in hand, to catch the bus pulling in and Miles descending the steps. Of course life happens and the bus was about an hour late. I made the best of it and pulled out my laptop and whipped out a story while I was waiting. (See, work won there!)
When he hopped down the steps with his teacher’s help the smile on my guy’s face was visible from across the parking lot. He spotted me and started to run toward me.
Gah! That sound of pure joy and glee at seeing me. That has got to be one of the best sounds and feelings in the world. We all filed inside and learned about how pumpkins were grown, the difference between the different kinds and even met a chicken. It was fun to see Miles interact with the other students and for the other teachers to tell me how sweet and cute our little dude is, reassuring to hear because you always wonder how well behaved they are when you aren’t around.
The whole group piled onto a straw ride (it wasn’t hay, we learned) out to the pumpkin patch where we got to traipse around all the growing pumpkins. It was magical watching Miles discover things he found, hearing him excitedly proclaim his discoveries of “punkins.” The group headed back to the main farm, home to the amazing barn slide. We’d gone to Goebel’s a few times last year and spent quite a bit of time playing on the barn slide.
This thing is no joke. It’s pretty high up and has some challenging steps to tackle. Last year, when Miles was still just 2, he definitely couldn’t navigate his way around up there alone and Michael and I took turns going up and down with him. But with the whole class lining up to go up the slide I thought Miles would be OK. So my nearly 37-week pregnant self decided to watch from the ground with some of the other teachers and parents who skipped the slide.
But after Miles made it all the way to the top, I saw him coming back down with one of the teachers. He was too scared to do it by himself and wanted his momma. Heart melts, of course, and I quickly start to climb the stairs with him. When I get to the top a parent and teacher exchange glances with each other and then eye my now pretty obvious baby belly.
“Are you sure you should be doing this?” one of them asks.
I laugh, “What, go down a slide pregnant with my son? Of course I should do it!”
So Miles and I zoomed down the slide.
What a fun morning. It was just a few hours but it was full of memories and moments I’ll treasure. I’m not sure how many field trips I’ll make, but I’m hopeful I can do at least one a year. I’m grateful to have a kiddo that is happy and proud to have me tag along and an employer who values the importance of family time.