The alarm chirped at 4:30 am, that’s 4, 3, 0…in the morning. As I slogged out of bed, I stumbled around my bedroom, trying desperately to make it to the coffee pot, AKA liquid sanity, in the kitchen. The house was quite. My munchkins would not be stirring for hours. I wished for just a bit more sleep.
As I stood and drank my coffee, there was no time to sit, I started ticking through the list of to do’s for the day. The biggest of which included a two hour drive to Tulsa to teach. After draining the cup, I packed the kiddo’s school lunches, and hit the shower. More organized mothers would have packed lunches the night before, but alas, I am mid-30 ish, and organization does not seem to be in the cards during my lifetime.
After quickly making myself presentable, I tiptoed through the house, refilled the coffee cup, and hit the door. On the way out, I said a quick prayer of gratitude for Oma, our amazing babysitter and friend, who once again came through in a clutch, spending the night, so I could leave early. I found myself wishing I could take the kids to school. But work called and by 5:30, the Blue Shamoo (my minivan) and I were eastbound to Tulsa.
After a foggy and somewhat bleary-eyed drive, I finally arrived at my destination. When I walked in the room, where I was to teach my four hour class, I was greeted with a shocked look by the training coordinator.
“I thought you were teaching this afternoon! Right?” she said to me.
“Uh…” was my only response. On the inside, I was thinking, “This afternoon?” And then I was calculating the hours I would have to wait and the approximate time I would arrive home. In my mind, at that moment, I roughly figured sometime around midnight. Hope Oma packed another outfit!
“Hang on,” she said as she walked toward her office. She quickly checked her schedule, suddenly saying, “Nope, you’re teaching this morning. I got it backward.”
I let out a breath like a deflated balloon, relieved to not spend an entire day and evening in Tulsa.
Finally, it was time for my class to start. I launched into my four hour class with gusto, and we were off. By the end of class, I was wishing for twenty more minutes, so I could answer more questions, cover things more thoroughly. But after years training adults, I well know the danger of extending a class into people’s lunch breaks. It really is the place good instructors go to die.
So, I did what I needed to and got the folks out of there with five minutes to spare. It was a bit like running a sprint, except your talking the entire time.
After the class was over, I spoke with a few people, and noticed one woman standing off to the side. When the others left, she walked up and said, “Being a police officer has been on my heart for a long time. I can’t shake it. I’m 34, with three kids, but I keep getting drawn back to it. Suggestions?”
As she poured out her story to me, I found myself wishing for the right words. How do you tell someone that something is fantastic, but comes at great cost? How do you encourage, but remain authentic to the reality that is law enforcement? As a mother, how do you build up, when you know the personal price will rock her family? I listened, smiled and continued to wish.
When she finished talking, I told her, “It’s the greatest job in the world. It’s so hard. It’s worth it, but it’s so hard. I want to encourage you, but I want to be honest. Do I regret it? Never. Am I proud? Absolutely. Has my career choice come at a price for my family? Without a doubt.”
I proceeded to give her information on the process, the realities of the academy, FTO, and patrol. I told her about the phenomenal ways I’ve impacted people. And I told her about the frustration of trying to empty the ocean with a spoon.
When I was done, she smiled, took my card, and said she would think about it.
As I limped to my car, I was wearing horribly awful dress shoes that felt like some form of torture, I thought about getting home to my kids, wishing I was there to pick them up from school.
After a 15 minute detour getting lost in Tulsa, I finally found a familiar highway and started the long drive home. In the quite of the Blue Shamoo, I thought about my day, and life in general. About all the wishing I was doing. What would it be like to stop wishing and just know that my best effort is enough? Is it possible that my children will grow up to be healthy, balanced adults, despite the fact that they had a mother who wished she could do so much of it differently? But even that question begs one for itself. If I did things differently, would I be wishing for what I have right now?
So, as I drove down that very long highway, I began thinking about gratitude. So many of us, myself included, spend our whole life wishing for more, different, better, that we fail to see the gift set right before us. What if we lived with open eyes, bigger perspectives and hearts that recognized our best efforts as just that, our very best? Would we see ourselves differently? What if we looked at our loved ones that way; our spouses, children, and friends?
Here’s to Wishful Wednesdays, my friends. May they be replaced with contentment and gratitude, and a cup of hot coffee.