I was re-reading one of the first columns I wrote for Patch—the one where I to get gas in the car so I could get her to her beloved summer camp. Where I sold a piece of jewelry at a "We Buy Gold" shop to put gas in the car so I could get her to her beloved summer camp. Where I understood why a woman might be desperate enough to actually consider for a nanosecond offering a sex act to the gas attendant to put gas in the car so she could get her daughter to her beloved summer camp.
What a difference a year makes. Or, in my case, two weeks.
It was on the heels of being and on the last day of school, just days before my daughter's summer camp was to begin (that thankfully, her father paid for), that I was already panicking about how the hell I was going to get through another eight week session of theme days, lunch tickets, and, most important, gas and donut money for the 40 minute drive each way ... that this unemployed writer for over two years finally .
Can we say, "Fill 'er up?"
Yes, we can. Breathe ... breathe ... it has been a long time since I've truly been able to breathe. And I am so grateful.
Grateful not only because I have a job in the industry I've devoted my life to. Grateful not only because my daughter refused to let me give up. Grateful not only because of all that I learned about myself and others in this journey. But, most of all, grateful because this summer EVERY FRIGGIN' DAY IS A THEME DAY AT CAMP.
Yes, forget the once in a blue moon Harry Potter costume day, this time it's a nonstop "dress up as something" fest.
And, unlike her mom who as a kid hated camps, costumes or anything that forced her to be cheery, I have a happy, playful, spirited healthy daughter who loves to join in all the reindeer games.
As we were looking at the schedule and figuring out what to wear for "Sports Day," I suggested we head to a sports shop to buy a football jersey or something.
"Baby, Mommy has a job so if you want to buy something we can."
Now, if I had said this last year we would have already been in the car heading to the mall. But, instead, Hannah looked at me, thinking, then, "I have a better idea, Mommy."
She went to the computer and looked up the logo of her favorite football team, the Giants. Now, this is not because she loves football or has ever even seen the Giants play, but in her heart of hearts she truly thinks she's a New Yorker because her mom and dad are.
She printed the image out and took it to her room with her bucket of pens. She colored the drawing in, cut it out, and pinned it on a shirt.
"We don't need to buy anything, Mommy. This is perfect."
I looked at her. Try as I did over this past year to protect her from truly knowing the level of financial fear and stress I was under, she knew. She never felt lack, or want or need... but she knew.
She knew her mommy was doing everything in her power to put gas in the car.
I pulled her into my arms and hugged her and kissed her and agreed that it was indeed the best football jersey I had ever seen.
The next morning as she got in her inspired sports outfit and I got dressed for work I thought about everything we had been through this last year. We had been through.
"Baby, you know what my favorite team is?" I said. She shook her head no.
As we drove to camp on a full tank of gas, listening to music, I pulled into our usual doughnut shop. Hannah looked out the car window, thinking about it.
"You know, Mommy, I'm not in the mood for a doughnut."
"Really? Why? You always used to get a doughnut before camp."
"I don't know. It's too sweet. Can I get a bagel instead?" I smiled, realizing that everything about her is growing. Even her taste buds.
"Absolutely, baby. Bagel it is."
She got her bagel and went to camp. And I sang at the top of my lungs to REO Speedwagon all the way to work.
Yep, it is certainly true ... what a difference a year makes.