It was an inopportune time to be crying.
I was going to my first black-tie affair since my divorce. The first black-tie event I’d been to without a date since my late twenties.
It was an auction for my children’s school, so as events go, probably among the most friendly and least intimidating. I would know a lot of my fellow attendees. And yet, as anyone who has ever gone solo to any event knows, there is the potential for nerve-wracking moments.
I had shared my predicament with Janine, the woman who makes me look like I’m outfitted to do something more than laundry when I have a special place to go. She has known me for years. As she applied my eye makeup, she said: “You were meant to sit in my chair tonight.”
Then she proceeded to tell me the story of her mother, newly single, trying to go to her first solo event. Janine and her sister watched out the window as their mother walked to the garage, and then turned around to head back toward the house.
Halfway there, she did an about-face and headed back toward the car. And then the house.
On it went for several revolutions. They could see her wring her hands and talk to herself.
She finally got into the car and drove away, looking a bit lost.
You see why the tears were flowing? I wanted to go back in time and give her a standing ovation.
If you’ve not done this, you don’t always get it. And by “this”, I mean gone it alone as a single parent.
I frequently have women complain to me about how busy they are now that they’re working. And I think of the helpful spouse they have at home, as they kvetch about how to fit it all in.
No shit, Sherlock.
I’m not saying I get special dispensation because I do this mommy, executive, entrepreneur, chief cook and bottle washer thing on my own. But I probably won’t have a ton of sympathy for your can-you-believe-I-had-to-work-all-day, -chauffeur, -cook-and-clean-while-my-husband-was-out-of-town-for-a-whopping-three-days spiel?
Three whole days? Really? Why, how did you manage? I’m surprised you’re still standing.
But, for women like Janine’s mother, who power through, figure it out, deal with the screaming meanies in their head telling them this event will be terrifying and go anyway, knowing full well they’re back on the treadmill of life, work and motherhood the next day?
Well, these women have my ear. And my heart. God bless them for what they do.
For churning out children who may fall temporarily but eventually follow one hell of an example of how to keep it together.
For paying bills at midnight, making pancake breakfasts before their kids’ longest days and still managing to find time to make it to good friends’ birthday celebrations, parents’ funerals and other moments that matter.
That is grace. That is grit. That is beauty.
It may not always be graceful, strong and beautiful.
But that’s neither here nor there.
It’s deserving of a few tears. Or a helping hand. Or, quite possibly, a round of applause.
I had a few beautiful people (and they know who they are) nudge me into this first event. Show me kindness. Get it, without needing an explanation.
Their support made a difference.
And yours could too.
Who do you know that could use it?
Chances are, they could use a standing ovation right about now.