“And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love”
– Greatest Love of All, as sung by Whitney Houston
At approximately 2:30 yesterday afternoon I was thrown under the bus by a coworker and promptly set on fire. I was unaware that I was on fire until my boss called me into her office to let me know that said coworker had not only thrown me under the bus but she had done a jig, pounded on her chest, and howled at the moon before she threw the match that lit me on fire.
This person has thrown me under the bus before. I am coming to the conclusion she just doesn’t like me. While I sat and defended myself to my boss (and produced exhibits that supported my position), she did her usual bossy stuff and attempted to give me advice on how to handle this challenging person. While I appreciated her intent, I took issue with her suggestions.
My boss is the type that believes the higher you climb on the corporate ladder the more respect you deserve – regardless of how qualified or good you are at your job. I disagree strongly. I don’t care if you are the woman who removes used tampons from the office bathroom or the CEO of our billion dollar company. Everyone deserves the same amount of kindness, respect and consideration. And that includes me. Body thrower was wrong and I let my boss know it.
So bossy lady and I discussed her approach, mine and how we could get this body throwing executive to cease from tossing my curvy figure another time.
By the time the conversation ended, my eyes were full with water, my chest was tight and I felt sick to my stomach. I left my bosses office, retreated to the ladies room and burst into tears.
Can I tell you I DESPISE crying at work?
Ah, but that was just the beginning of my craptastic day.
I left the office a little after 4 pm. My son’s “graduation” from elementary school was last night. In the space of an hour I needed to get home, get him dressed, get him and his brother fed and get them both to school. I ordered pizza before I left the office and arranged for my fiancé to be at the house, tip the pizza dude and get the kids started on the tasks. My ex-husband was also joining us for dinner as he would be transporting the boys.
As I got into my car, I plugged in my cell phone which had died during the day (perhaps it was also under the bus with me?). To my surprise, my landlord had left me a message indicating she wanted to show the apartment at 5 pm. This would be right in the middle of the kid dressing, pizza eating, mommy freaking out time.
I called landlord back and was able to push viewing to 5:30. Now I had to also go home and pick up the house.
Miraculously and with very little incident (thanks to the efforts of my fiancé and my oldest son) we got everything done and out of the house by 5:30.
At 5:40 we get into the school, drop my son off with his classmates and settle into the agora for the ceremonies.
And I am doing okay. I have caught my breath; the water works from earlier in the day seem to have subsided. I begin to chill and start to play with my camera while chatting with my fiancé, my ex husband and my youngest son.
And then the music teacher enters the agora and begins to do sound checks.
She turns on the music and what do I hear?
Whitney Houston’s song, Greatest Love of All.
And I lose it.
I forgot, for at least five minutes, that my son was going to be sing the song, his sisters’ song, at his graduation.
My eyes fill up. I gasp for air, my fiancé lurches toward me and my ex observes me quizzically. I mumble something about tissues. Fiancé bolts to find the nearest restroom and I stare at my ex husband while tears run down face.
“Amber?” he asks.
And I sob some more.
He used her original name. Not her amended name. Her birth name. He never did that. His use of her name, the name I gave her, the name the world erased along with me, makes me choke.
Fiancé appears at my side with what appears to be a roll of brown paper towels balled up in his hand. I chuckle through my tears as he comments on lack of tissues in the bathrooms.
I calm down. I make small talk. I take pictures.
The processional begins and my son walks in with classmates all clad in black and white. They line up and wait for the principal to complete a short speech. And then the music starts again. Fifty five children start singing.
“I believe the children are our future…”
And I lose it again. I try to keep it together. I do. I suck down the lump in my throat. I try to smile. I do yoga breathing. I consciously push away thoughts of my daughter, adoption, and related traumas. I tell them they are not welcome. This is Nikolas’ time. Go away adoption.
I look up at my son, standing middle center of the group and we make eye contact.
He raises his right pointer finger to his face and wags it at me in a gesture of “no, you cannot do that”. Then he points to his eye and makes the motion of tears falling down.
My son just told me, while he sings the song I sang when I left his sister, that I cannot cry.
His love, kindness and maturity make me cry even more.
The ceremony is heartwarming. Each child takes his promotion certificate from the principals. My heart swells as my handsome fabulous son walks by me.
Following the presentation of certificates, a slide show is projected. Photos of each graduating student are displayed with a quote of what they want to be when they grow up.
Three fabulous photos of my beautiful boy flash on screen with the words
“I want to go to NYIT and pursue a degree in Architecture”.
I find myself amused, then annoyed, then understanding and then tremendously sad.
My amusement is caused by the fact that my son has said he wants to be his father when he grows up. His father graduated from NYIT with a degree in Architecture and Lighting design.
I find my sons adulation of his father amusing and sweet if not stereotypical.
And then I get annoyed with the Daddy worship. I feel invisible. What about me? Doesn’t he want to be anything like me?
And then I understand. I recall my lengthy conversations on gender issues with my therapist and how boys will naturally gravitate towards their fathers and girls towards their mothers.
And then I am deeply saddened and the tears begin anew. My daughter wants nothing to do with me let alone ever wanting to be like me. I have no daughter that admires me. Yet I have a daughter.
And I start to cry again. I am thankful that the lights are off.
The show completes. I have my wits about me again and we wrap up the evening with more photos, hugs and accolades.
The evening continued to be a bit stressful for other reasons but eventually fiancé and I were able to get home, alone, to snuggle and decompress. I thought it was over.
It is not.
I started the day as I usually do by checking in on facebook as I drink my morning coffee. I was quite startled to find my daughters face appear on the upper right corner as a suggested friend to add.