On Sunday morning I was due to deliver a speech to 160 early childhood educators. I stopped to grab a coffee before making my way to the venue.
I glanced down at my phone after ordering and saw I’d had two missed calls from one of the school mums.
I figured it was urgent so I dialled back immediately.
“Is everything ok?” I asked.
“Yes just checking if you’re nearly here?”
Nearly where, I wondered before it hit me.
“Oh god! I’m so sorry!!!”
THE MOVIES. We were meant to be delivering our seven year old daughter to the movies – about fifteen minutes earlier – for her son’s birthday.
A small group were going to a movie and then out for dumplings. And I had forgotten. Completely forgotten.
In this case, the blame was on me. When the email came through several weeks earlier I had RSVPd and mentally made note that it was on at roughly the same time I would be speaking.
I knew my husband would be in charge of all the kids that morning but I forgot to mention it to him. And, worse, I didn’t add it to our online family calendar which serves as our bible for life.
Usually we put all work, family, medical, social engagements into the shared calendar. It’s a terrifically useful tool to help make life run as smoothly as possible. But, funnily enough, it’s less helpful when you don’t actually put things into it.
The birthday party was filed in my head under “I will soon add this to the calendar”, except I didn’t get to it. So we didn’t get to it.
And until I received the phonecall on Sunday morning I didn’t even know we hadn’t got to it.
I apologised profusely. I explained I was on my way to a work thing and that the girls had already ventured out for the day. I couldn’t remedy it. I had to chalk it up as a fail.
My apology was graciously batted away. “Georgie, You have three kids, these things happen!! Don’t even worry!!”
I knew those words were genuine and I knew she understood. But I still felt disappointed.
As I got back in the car and made my way across the city I reflected on why.
And it is because this woman is the kind every family needs in their village.
She is the mum that has swooped my two eldest children away for a day of activities because she knew I was on my own and suffering some fairly debilitating pain.
She is the mum who just the weekend before had delivered a gorgeous wooden toy kitchen that her kids no longer use that she thought our youngest would enjoy.
And when she dropped it off, she also came carrying a delicious meal from The Dinner Ladies, “just to help”.
The reason she does things like that is the same reason she batted my apology away.
She gets it.
She and her husband are both working, they are raising two children and they understand the big and the little challenges that come with the territory.
And when she can make something easier for someone, she does. Which is pretty wonderful.
Thinking about that underscored a point I had already written in the speech I was about to deliver.
And it was about the solidarity that exists between so many women.
That’s not to say that all women all like each other and all agree with one another, at all times. That’s ridiculous.
But ask any woman to name the top ten people who make her life just a bit easier at any given time and I’m certain that other women will feature heavily.
It is contrary to the tired notion that women are their own worst enemies. In many many more cases, women really are their own best friends.
Raising children really does take a village, and nine times out of ten, the village who front up, who deliver meals, offer help or share simple words of encouragement are other women.
Ideally that would be rewarded, at the very least, by remembering their child’s birthday party. Failing that, making a cake is one way to make amends with almost anyone, for almost anything.