Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pink Lines

For a moment, I forgot to breath. I leaned my head back against the cool stone wall, took a deep breath, and looked again. Yup, still two pink lines, one fainter than the other, but it was there. I resisted the urge to rip open the second test right then and there. My hands were shaking as I put the test down on the back of the toilet. I felt sick.

Of course I felt sick! I was pregnant! I could feel myself grinning like a fool. I checked the mirror, and sure enough I had a big stupid grin plastered across my bright red face. I couldn't wait to tell my husband!

My smile faded, I couldn't tell my husband right now, he was sitting in a classroom an hour away. This wasn't news that I could text. I'd have to do something special. My mind raced over the cheesy possibilities. I could buy a baby outfit or a baby anything really. I could get him a card, and we could go out to dinner, I could blurt it out the moment I saw him...

Why did I take the pregnancy test today. My husband was in school, I had to get back to work in... I checked my watch, 45 minutes, then I had to do payroll, then I needed to go to my class. I wouldn't be home until close to ten tonight, and my husband had school tomorrow, so it wasn't as if we could stay up late to celebrate.

I considered what to do with the pregnancy test. An irrationally sentimental part of me wanted to keep it. I could put it in a plastic baggy, stick it in my purse, and leave it in the car until I got off work... gross. Instead I wrapped it in a paper towel and tossed it in the trash. I needed to eat something, and figure out how to give my husband the good news.

The bathroom I had just spent the last fifteen minutes in, was the small bathroom of the paint your own pottery shop my husband and I had purchased last year. Business was not going well, so I had picked up a second job and changed the store hours. Instead of opening at 11:00 am, we now opened at 1:00 during the week. Tuesdays were my only day off because of school, but like most small business owners, I still found myself in the shop at odd hours finishing paperwork, or trying to figure out bills.

I eyed the lunch I had packed that morning disdainfully. My plan had been to eat while doing payroll, but that was not a good way to celebrate. I would come back and do payroll between work and class. I locked the store, and went to the dinner next store for a good brunch. I waved at the manager, and sat at the bar. One thing I loved about this shopping center was the fact that I knew everyone here. All the tenants were having landlord issues, so we had taken to meeting at my shop once a month to try to fix things before we all went out of business. This dinner was part of a larger chain, so the manager had been told by his superiors not to participate in the meetings. He still liked to keep up though, so I gave him all the details on last nights meeting between bites of my breakfast quesadilla. His sister-in-law/ assistant manager, worked at my store on Tuesday's after the dinner closed, so she was also interested in how the meeting went.

I wanted to tell her so badly, but I kept my mouth shut because my husband had to be the first to know. I finished brunch, paid, and left, mind still numbly processing the fact that I was pregnant. Pregnant!

How was I going to tell my husband? We had reservations at a fondue restaurant on the thirteenth, since we were both needed at the shop on the fourteenth. I could tell him then. That would be romantic! Fondue, candles, valentines, we would be exchanging gifts... It could work. Wait... wass I even allowed to eat fondue? I pondered this question as I walked into the preschool I had begun working at two weeks ago.

Calling it a preschool was generous. Last year, I had taught at a great preschool three days a week for two years before business picked up at the shop enough to warrant quitting preschool teaching and working at the shop full time. Of course that decision had been made last year, when business was booming. I was stretched so many different ways last year. I taught Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, went to school Tuesday, and Thursday mornings, ran the shop each afternoon, and weekends. Towards the end of the year I had felt like I wasn't giving my kids my all, so when the chance to sign up for another year approached, I said no thank you.

Then over the summer the stock market crashed, and the city ran out of gasoline. All my customers who hadn't lost their jobs weren't going to drive any distance just to paint pottery. We still hadn't recovered from the loss of income over the summer, and with a rent increase and lease renewal around the corner, we weren't sure what to do.

So I got another job, if the business could sustain itself we would be fine. Only this preschool was really a daycare, marketed as a preschool. The kids in my class each day weren't consistent, my three’s class had older fours and a five year old, and the kids arrived before I did in the morning, and often stayed after I left.

I’d have to quit if things didn’t improve here soon, especially now. When I took the job I was told I’d be teaching the three’s curriculum from 8:00-12:00 every day. During their nap time the daycare teacher would come in, and they would spend the rest of the day playing and doing daycare stuff. Instead, the daycare teacher quit, and I was stuck teaching from 8:00-6:00 each day, until the night teacher arrived (24 hour preschool). Paying someone else to work at the shop from 1:00-6:00 sort of defeated the point of taking a second job in the first place. Plus, with the baby on the way (oh my gosh! I’m pregnant!) I couldn’t be working million hour weeks.

Before I clocked in, I checked my roll to see if anyone other kids had shown during my break. All but three of my kids were absent with the flue. One of them would be picked up after nap-time, and the two kids left were the boss’s grandkids, and therefore not considered income. I decided to check with my boss.

I walked to her office holding my time card. "You're late." She told me without looking up from her desk. And you lied about my hours. I considered snapping back. I didn't, I knew how it was to be at the mercy of your employees schedules. Only difference was when my employees saved my but by working outside their availability, I said thank you.

"I was here on time." I answered instead, "I was just wondering if you wanted me to clock back in today. When Micah’s mom comes to pick up, I'll only have two kids."

She sighed, "That damn flue."

I felt a pang of sympathy, this really was a daycare, the kids paid per day they were present instead of paying a monthly tuition.

"Yeah... I didn't know if you wanted to waste payroll on two kids. Did you want me to put them in the fives class?"

The five year olds were actually all four, I had 3 three year olds, 1 five year old, (my boss's granddaughter, apparently she wants her grandchildren to be in the same class. Poor kid wasn't learning much, but she made a great teaching assistant) and 6 four year olds. The fives teacher had 10 four year olds; we had to keep the students and teachers at a certain ratio, which is why it was divided like that.

"How many kids are in the fives today?"

I checked the roll. "Five."

She winced again and told me to go home.

Instead I headed right back to the shop to finish payroll. The shop was dead. My employee (from the dinner) was working diligently on the cleaning checklist, and we chatted for while I printed paychecks. I had two people working for me at this point, the employee who was here now and an art teacher who taught painting classes on the weekend. We’re all about the same age (23-25) and we get along really well. They're more than just employees, they're friends. I couldn't wait to tell them the good news!

I couldn't wait three days to tell my husband! I sent a quick email to my teacher to let him know I wouldn't be coming to class today, and sent him my assignments. So I would tell him tonight! I just had to figure out a cute and memorable way to tell him the good news.

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