It was by far one of my biggest screw-ups ever, especially given my compulsive roots, which I had held fast to as of the beginning of 2012 when my 16-year marriage ended. Before that, I always took great pride in being organized, excessively so, and ran the business of my family like a company, orchestrating everyone’s lives with precision. So when five minutes before I was to drive my two teenage daughters, 16 and 15, to Newark Airport where they planned on boarding a plane to Hong Kong to visit their father and his family, I was horrified to learn both of their passports had expired six months earlier.
“Are you sure those aren’t the old ones,” I asked my older daughter who made the discovery, remembering clearly how my ex-husband and I had renewed our son’s a few months earlier and how she had traveled with hers the previous summer.
I always took great pride in being organized, excessively so, and ran the business of my family like a company, orchestrating everyone’s lives with precision.
“No!” she replied, the panic rising in her voice along with mine.”
Immediately I picked up the phone and called my ex-husband to tell him the news. It was so unlike me that, in his state of shock, he could barely speak.
“Call the U.S. Department of State now and find out what to do,” he managed to say.
Within minutes I was on my way to the bank to get our children’s documents from the safe deposit box and to Walgreens for passport photos. A half hour later we were on our way to the Passport Agency in New York City, only to be told on arrival they were not accepting any more walk-ins for the day.
After speaking with three different people, someone finally agreed to help me. The Red Sea had parted. Though the girls missed their flight that day, they could still get on the one the next day. Then we hit a snag. I big one.
With one child under 16 and an ex-husband in Hong Kong, we needed to get one of our documents notarized, which, due to the 12-hour time difference, he would be unable to do in the middle of the night. That meant we had to return to the Passport Agency at 7:30 the next morning after getting the necessary signature, only hours before flight time. It was touch and go the whole way.
Two hours later, 20 hours after my nightmare first began, my girls had new passports in their hands. I, on the other hand, felt as if I had aged years. Based on how I looked once I left the airport, I am pretty sure I did.
When the girls finally got off the ground, I began telling a few of my girlfriends about my latest “Lucy Ricardo” ordeal, the one for which I only had myself to blame. I don’t know why, but I expected them to beat me up as I had already begun doing right from the start. To my surprise, no one did. Instead, the women in my life offered me the support and forgiveness I was unable and unwilling to extend myself.
Sure, it would have been easier for them to laugh, ridicule me for my mistake, which was a big one, and make me feel stupid for letting such an important detail fall through the cracks. But they didn’t. Never. Not once.
There is a big difference between constructive criticism and kicking someone in the ass when they are down. It is a fine line. During delicate situations, it is a line any one of us can cross if we are not mindful of what we say and how we say it. Still, I am always thankful when my girlfriends “keep it real.” I like to think I do the same for them, even though there have been times when, at first, my comments were not well received. Hey, sometimes the truth hurts. Believe me, I should know, and last week was no exception. But as the saying goes, it’s all in the delivery, and my girlfriends came through for me once again.
Sure, it would have been easier for them to laugh, ridicule me for my mistake, which was a big one, and make me feel stupid for letting such an important detail fall through the cracks. But they didn’t.
Speaking of deliveries, I delivered my children to their father, albeit 24 hours late, and they are now having a fantastic summer traveling around Asia with him. As for me, I have gotten some of that downtime I desperately needed. Not to mention a lesson in how quickly I can render my ex-husband speechless, something, much to my surprise, I never want to do again.
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