I was standing in the middle of a farmer’s field Wednesday night, staring intently at the black sky when my phone rang.
I could see a red haze creating a glow across the dark horizon.
I looked down at the device in my hand.
I didn’t recognize the number.
Should I really answer?
My hands were cold. And it just seemed awkward to take a call while standing in complete silence in the middle of a field.
The number felt familiar.
“Mom?” a tiny voice asked.
“My practice was cancelled. Can you come get me?”
“What?” I almost screamed. “You’ve been there for TWO HOURS!”
I felt so selfish.
I had been waiting all day to do this weird thing I do one evening a month. I drive out into the country to find a flat unobstructed view, preferably with a barn or some structure in the foreground to create perspective.
I pack up my camera, my extra long lens and my tripod. I carefully time my drive to make sure I get there at just the right moment. I open the compass app on my phone to ensure I’m looking the right direction in the sky.
I was standing in the exact location and at the exact moment when the object of my attention was peaking over the horizon. I knew I only had a few minutes before the giant red moon would glide into the sky, slowly becoming yellow, then its usual white as the sky grew darker and the moon rose higher.
And that’s when I found out my 8-year-old daughter had been sitting at the gym for two hours because gymnastics practice was cancelled.
This moment felt like it summed up life as a mom.
It’s so rare that a mom gets to do something that’s just for her. Even if it’s something as odd as my obsession with photographing the full moon. And then in that 30-minute span when you’ve run away to the country to enjoy complete silence and an awesome sight, you get the news that you messed up.
Your life has evolved to the point that your idea of a good time is standing outside by yourself in the darkness waiting for the moon to rise. And you can’t even enjoy that moment of absurd middle-aged fun because motherhood calls.
You didn’t check your e-mail to get a message sent at 2 p.m. telling you the 4:30 practice was cancelled. You didn’t do the thing you do every other day, which is to tell your child you will sit in the parking lot for a few minutes after you drop her off JUST IN CASE her coach is sick or something happened and she doesn’t have practice that day.
You saw an unknown caller at 4:40 p.m., but didn’t pick it up because you were convinced it was a telemarketer.
And now, here you are at 6:30 p.m., the exact moment the moon is rising, and you are listening to your third grader’s sweet voice telling you she needs a ride home. And you are 30 minutes away because she’s not supposed to be done until 8 p.m.
Should I just pack it all up?
Earlier in the day, I needed a break in my work day so I spent some time driving around the country to find this exact spot. I had taken some photos the night before. And although the sky was perfectly clear and the moon was bright and orange, my photo lacked interest of another object to give it perspective.
This old barn would be perfect. If my calculations where correct, the moon would come up right beside it. I was looking forward to this moment.
Now, reality set in. I couldn’t stand the thought of her sitting at the gym. I had to get there. I had to leave.
I frantically called my husband with one hand, while balancing the tripod and camera with my other. No answer. I called the firstborn because I knew he was sitting right next to my husband watching a movie. No answer. I called my daughter because I knew she was upstairs one floor above them. No answer.
Why do we even pay for phone service?!?
I tried again, and my husband picked up.
Also in a panic, he agreed to go pick up our daughter.
Instead of enjoying the moment, I shoot my photos in a cloud of mom guilt. I’m fumbling to find the right camera settings in the complete darkness. I get home to find most of my photos are either out of focus or the moon is overexposed.
A few could be saved by Photoshop.
We found out later that the coach of the team one level up from hers invited her to practice with their team after I didn’t answer the phone. Thankfully, she hadn’t been sitting alone the entire time. She had asked to call me again earlier in the evening, but apparently, the other coach enjoyed having her with the group.
In the end, it was a good learning experience. I told her that if it ever happened again, she should call me repeatedly until I answer. I will also make sure she learns her dad’s phone number.
And I will always answer the phone when we’re not together.
Even if I’m standing in the middle of a quiet field waiting for the moon to rise.
So what about you? Have you had a funny experience when motherhood called?