This story begins at 3am in the Orrington Hotel when I am answering emails. I woke up in the middle of the night to my son vomiting on the bed, which we are sharing, and now smells faintly of chewed up room service fruit plate.
Maybe I should have said no to room service. It’s extravagant. But he loves the fruit plate and it’s hard to pin down the meaning of extravagant when we routinely stay at hotels for cello lessons for a nine year old.
Of course I cannot sleep after this. So I am answering emails and I have an inbox full of writing from people who are paying me to edit their blog posts. I read, edit, reply, read, edit, reply, and then I get to Erin, who sometimes writes on my education blog, so she is a decent writer, but sometimes she gets all INFP on me and writes total crap.
So I read about how she’s so happy and there is joy and babies are so great and wonderful, and for a second I want to be constructive and tell her no one wants to read about happiness. All stories need conflict. But instead I just write back, “This writing is totally selfish. You don’t think at all about the reader or what you are offering the reader. You take the reader’s attention for granted.”
I decide sometimes the INFPs in the world need to be given a dose of reality.
Then Erin writes back, “That was an email from me to tell you that I’m pregnant. You should write back to me by saying congratulations.”
I have in my head that my son has 24 hour flu but I am not good with numbers and I see I am banking on this 24 hours of flu being compressed into nine hours because I have a meeting with Mr. Famous at 1pm.
At 9am there is more vomit. Like, cough, vomit, cough, vomit. Nothing really comes out, but it’s clear that this is not a kid I can leave alone in a hotel room with TV and room service while I meet with Mr. Famous.
I look online for a place that has babysitters with 0 hours notice. I discover this is an underserved market.
I tell my son I can’t find him a babysitter but I have a great idea. You have to frame all ideas to kids like that: “A GREAT IDEA!” Even for the vomiting kid, you must always be in sales mode.
He says, “What?”
“I can hire a car service to take me to my meeting, and you can bring your pillow and blanket and wastebasket to the car. And you can just sleep in the backseat while I go to my meeting. If you have to throw up, you can just do it right there. The driver will be your babysitter.”
“Mom. Please. Just be responsible. Get a babysitter.”
I go down to the front desk. They know me from the thousands of times I’ve stayed here and asked for something special. Today I ask if there is someone who is getting off their shift who could babysit.
No shifts are over until after my meeting.
I explain my problem to the manager. Whose name is Darryl and right now I am going to tell you that this guy should get a promotion. Because he called the head of housekeeping and found someone who cleans rooms who has four kids who stayed with my son and the other room cleaners took over her rooms for the day. So Darryl is awesome and all the room cleaners are awesome and I just wanted to hug everyone who works at the hotel.
The room cleaner settles in. I go to CVS to buy medicine for my son. I buy nighttime cough and cold even though it’s the day because a little more sleep never hurts.
Then I go to the salon next door to get my hair blown dry so I look like I tried to be business casual. I freeze walking to the salon because it’s only two blocks but it’s snowing and I have no coat. I am not sure why. I try to think of what I will say when someone asks me why I have no coat.
Before I find a suitable answer, the hairdresser says, “How will you keep your hair dry?”
I have no idea.
She blows my hair into business casual bustles of curls at the bottom and soft-swiped bangs on top. Then she pours it all into a shower cap. “Just take it off when you get back to your hotel,” she tells me.
While I have the highest threshold for shame of anyone I know, it is difficult for me to walk through the snowy city with no coat, and the shower cap, carrying nothing but the plastic bag from CVS. I hope people notice that I’m wearing very expensive boots.
I wait for Mr. Famous at the designated coffee shop. I sit looking at a wall because I am face blind and I’ll never recognize him when he’s coming toward me, so if I’m facing the wall he will have to tap my shoulder to say hi instead of relying on facial recognition and the requisite followup eye contact.
We have our meeting. I will summarize it this way:
1. He is so smart and interesting and I would love to work for him.
2. If I could hold down a 9-5 job.
What I really want to do is come back to the hotel and write. I want to see my son. Yes. That, too. I guess I want both.
I have been to the guy’s office twice. There are a million offices at his office. I never see women my age. I tell myself they are all home with kids, working on their own business, which is where I belong.
Seriously. There are not women in their 40s in corporate America. We are such a rarity that I feel out of place walking through the hallways.
And I guess this is a post about why there are no women. It was not worth the acrobatics I went through to do this meeting. The stress about how I would get to the meeting started at 3am, with the first spurt of blueberries. So I spent nearly a full day being stressed about how to take care of my son and do a meeting. And meanwhile, he was very sick.
There is no research that says kids need their moms cleaning up their vomit to battle the flu. There is no research that says kids who have sick days with babysitters are messed up. I just want to be there by his bed more than I want to be at a cafe talking about big ideas. I want to be so self-confident that I can feel special and important no matter which one I choose.