I’ve written before about the fabulous Women On Air initiative and how it is both a great net-working opportunity for women who work in broadcasting and women who want to. The inspiring Margaret E. Ward and her committee organise occasional talks, seminars and workshops for such women. They are always well-attended, informative, interesting and fun.
There was one last night and, initially, I wasn’t going to go. As many of you already know, I have two young daughters and I am on my own with them – as a result they end up coming most places with me, which often means late nights. I’ve also returned to education and am studying, full-time, for an MA. Going out on a Wednesday night would have meant two late nights on the trot for my girls. As well as a few extra hours away from my books. I decided to be sensible and give it a miss.
Then, I noticed that more and more of my buddies were going. I wanted to hang out! At the last moment, I put all my mis-givings to one side and bought my ticket for the three-hour event with Miriam O’Callaghan. With all due respect to Miriam, I didn’t think that anything she was going to say was going to change my life. I was more interested in seeing, talking to and hanging out with the fabulous women who attend WOA events.
Now that I’d committed, I was all excited and sold it to my daughters as a fab night out for them, too. I even got myself a matching notebook and pencils to take notes on the night.
I left college yesterday at 2.30pm and pelted it home to pick my girls up from the school bus, then made dinner while they did their homework. Afterwards, I bundled my long-suffering pair into the car and we hit the road at 4.40pm to get to the venue for 6pm. I figured we’d be early by about 15 or 20 minutes, but I hadn’t banked on the weather.
From the time I hit the gates of our estate, the rain started. By the time we were half-way there, my sat-nav was telling me we’d be ten minutes early. We sat in traffic for a while and the sat-nav told me we’d be in the door at 6pm. I gritted my teeth. I hate being late.
By the time we got to Dawson St. (where the event was taking place), I was already 10 minutes late and couldn’t find parking! I drove around, looking for a spot. There was one, but it was too far from where I needed to be. Had I been on my own – rain or no rain – I’d have parked and sprinted. As I had the girls with me, there was no question of my doing so.
Looking at the clock, the weather and the traffic, I decided to swing around one more time. This would make me half an hour late, but I would just nip in at the back and not make a fuss. I’m good at slipping in unnoticed. I’d have missed the beginning of what Miriam had to say, but I’ll still get to see the fabulous Women on Air afterwards.
Doubling back took a bit longer than I’d hoped. Driving up and down the streets of Dublin, scouring for a parking spot, I realised there was none to be had.
‘Girls,’ I said to my two. ‘I think we’re just going to leave it and head home.’
They said nothing.
‘You could do with being in bed at a reasonable hour,’ I told them. ‘Especially because you’ve got to come to DCU with me tomorrow.’
Admitting defeat, I pointed the car in the direction of home and consoled myself with the thought that I was being ‘sensible’, ‘responsible’ and practical’. Instead of being disappointed that I’d missed what (I hear today) was a wonderful night, I decided to take a lesson from the experience.
I need to realise that I am one person already doing the work of four. I need to realise that I can’t do everything I might like to. I need to realise that I can’t be everywhere I might like to be. I need to learn I don’t need to accept every invitation I receive. I need to trust that, sometimes, there are second chances – that I will get to meet up with all the fabulous women I missed meeting last night. I need to learn that I can spread myself too thinly and then I do no one any favours.
It took bad weather, heavy traffic and missing Miriam O’Callaghan to remind me of that.