There was a flight attendant candidate (Becky) in my initial training class who liked to hang with a bad crowd: the Gods of Late, and their groupies, the Minions of Irresponsibility. Becky liked to sleep in, rush around, and generally cause problems for everyone. It came as no surprise when she was conspicuously absent on graduation day (“Becky has decided to pursue other opportunities,” was the official wording our trainer used to explain her empty chair).
When I was six months pregnant with my first son, I stopped flying. I told the Gods of Early I wouldn’t be needing them anymore, and to please go harass some deserving new-hire flight attendants at the training center in Chicago instead. The Gods of Early smiles and winked at each other, then told me they’d be back to check on me in 2 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 13 hours (what’s with the hyper-precision, Gods of Early?).As predicted, they returned right on schedule (truth be told, a little ahead of time). Fairy tales depict storks bringing babies to their new families—in reality, it’s the Gods of Early. They dropped off Tall, healthy and strong, and then said they’d like to maybe stick around for a few weeks. Or months. Or years.
I hate the Gods of Early. It’s like living with your mother-in-law all the time. I was under the impression that when I stopped working, I would no longer have to, well, work. Ha! I wake up earlier, work harder, and get paid less (that would be zero) then I ever did before. The Gods of Early made sure I was up to feed the baby, get the toddler off to preschool, and basically walk around in a sleep-deprived haze at all times.When Tall was almost five years old and Short was two, I had an ugly confrontation with the Gods of Early. “It’s time for you to leave,” I began tentatively, glancing at them, and then the snow outside the window, “you’ve outworn your welcome.”
They did not take the news well. “We’ll stay as long as we damn well please,” said Soon, the God with slicked back hair. “Yeah,” added In Advance, as he smoothed his seasonally-inappropriate seersucker suit, “you still need us.” Prompt looked up from ironing his swim trunks. “Who do you think you are?” he challenged.I began to break down. “I just … I just …” I stammered, “I really want my life back. Where is it written that mothers must wake up at 4 AM every day?”
“On page 319 of the contract,” confirmed Ahead of Schedule while he casually flipped through tomorrow’s newspaper. “Don’t you remember signing it?”“I never signed anything with you people,” I rallied, my voice rising. “I don’t need you anymore. I don’t care what your so-called contract says.”
They shrugged, got up, and left. This was easier than I thought it was going to be.I looked at the clock: 10:15. I had a dentist appointment at 10. I was late.
**This is an essay I posted a long time ago, and I am reprinting it today because I feel like it never got the initial recognition it deserved. Hope you like it!