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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)

TITLE: The Mommy Balancing Act
By Donna Haug


The Mommy Balancing Act
August 1, 2006

The frigid air slammed into Joy’s lungs as she ran out the door, but she did not have time to think about it. It was almost seven o’clock on Monday morning and she was running late. Snow crunched under her boots as she made her way to the once yellow bus sitting in her driveway now covered in a white blanket of snow. As she scraped with her snowbrush at the sheet of ice that had formed under the snow, Joy remembered how excited she had been when she saw the advertisement in the paper for this job. She would be home from school when her kids were at home. She would have the same holiday schedule. It all sounded so good – at the time. She raced through her safety check and hurried back inside the house.

“Kids, are you ready to go? Jay, don’t forget your snack. Laura, come get your coat on. Sarah? Where are you?”

“Coming, Mom!”

“Here, honey. Take your coat. It’s cold out there.” She passed out mitts, gloves and scarves as she found them, giving them each a nudge out the door. The sun was just starting to lighten the sky as Joy made her way through the city streets to pick up her first student. One by one, the children piled onto the bus.

Finally, with all 18 passengers on board, Joy headed the bus in the direction of the first school. She made her way down the now busy avenue. As she prepared to make a turn onto a side road towards the school, she heard a commotion coming from the middle of the bus.

“Eww! Gross!”

“Yuck! She threw up!”

“Miss! Jennifer just got sick all over herself, and it’s all over the floor!”

That is just great! Joy looked in the rearview mirror and saw Jennifer unbuckling her seatbelt and stumbling forward with a glazed look in her eyes.

“Sweetheart, just go back and sit down. I’ll help you just as soon as I make this turn.”

Jennifer hung onto Joy’s arm, and her other hand grabbed on to the door handle to support herself. The smell was terrible. Suddenly, the door flew open. As quickly as she could, Joy reached out to hold onto Jennifer’s arm with her right arm while trying to make a left hand turn off the busy avenue. Cars whizzed by the open door while Joy carefully made the turn and pulled over to the curb. Breathing a sigh of relief, Joy parked the bus and walked the poor little girl back to her seat.

Joy cleaned Jennifer up as best as she could and wiped down the floor. “It’s ok. You’re going to be all right,” she reassured her.

“It still stinks,” a little boy complained.

“I know. We’re almost at the school.”

As she pulled into the first school, Joy met the teacher at the door. She explained Jennifer’s predicament. The teacher looked at Joy knowingly and said, “Yes, this has happened before. She has seizures occasionally. We’ll keep an eye on her.”

As Joy climbed back onto her half empty bus and drove away, she shook her head in amazement. How could they not have told her to expect that? She had been discovering over the past couple of weeks that although many of the children on her bus looked normal, most of them had a disability of some kind, whether physical, mental, or emotional. She took a good look in the rearview mirror at her kids. They had been on the bus for 1 ½ hours already. Little Jay had fallen asleep on Laura’s shoulder. Sarah was doodling on the cover of her math book. They would have to go sit in school for another 3 hours now. Joy felt so badly for them. After school, they would have to do it all over again. Driving slowly down the road towards the last school, Joy came to a decision.

She watched her children run towards the door of the school with the other children as the bell rang. Right then she bowed her head and prayed, “Lord, there must be another job I can do that will enable me to keep my children my top priority without putting them through all of this. I will trust in you to provide.” Taking a deep breath, Joy turned the bus towards the bus company’s office. It was time to deal with some business.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter08/07/06
Good job. You wrote evocatively and sensitively. Good message.
Joanne Sher 08/07/06
I enjoyed this. You did a wonderful job of showing us each of the children on the bus, as well as the mom's anguish. Fine writing!
Jen Davis08/07/06
Nicely written with very natural dialogue. You've done a great job of sharing how difficult it can be for mothers who want to earn an income and yet keep their children their #1 priority. Well done.
Edy T Johnson 08/15/06
I'm in a sweat and short of breath. (I think I held my breath through your entire story, trying to keep up with your narrator!) My, but you know how to do powerful writing, and right on topic also. Thank you for this glimpse into the difficulties so many face, trying to do so much and still hold onto priorities. Keep writing!
Edy T Johnson 08/15/06
p.s. I just checked your member page, and I had to add you to my "track" list! It's so nice to "meet" you, Donna! I'll be "watching" you!