Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Regret

I was running late for work. It was a couple of years ago.  The kids weren't cooperating. Caden especially. He couldn't find the pants he wanted. 

I was chasing the hands of the clock. I was angry. My words were firm and impatient. I had to be at work on time. There was an important ceremony to host. 

I scolded them for sleeping late the night before. I rushed Sean into his daycare room without a goodbye. 

Caden had a scowl on his face and he was quiet. I was glad he wasn't whining. He walked slowly toward his classroom. Hurry up, I told him. 

I didn't say goodbye. Instead I rushed to the car and started it up. I hit the gas hard about to race to work. But something caught my eye.

A small open palm on the window of Caden's classroom. I slowed the car and squinted my eyes for a better look. Caden's face peered at me. He was crying. He had his hand on the window. 

During the ceremony, the music director asked me what was wrong. I choked back the sob in my throat as I told him. 

Don't ever sacrifice your children for this bullshit, he said. All of this? The ceremonies, the meetings, the stress. After you retire these people will forget you. But your children will not. Don't let their memories be filled with tearful mornings as you left them for this. Tell them you love them each time you part. 

They are the ones who matter in the end. So make them matter in the now. 

Since then I've not once let the morning be filled with impatience and frustration. Each time I think of that little palm on the window, I hug them a little tighter. As if I'm still apologizing for it. Never again will I make them less important than this job. 


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