I don’t want to fight about who works harder—dads don’t have it easier, stay at home moms don’t have it easier, people without kids don’t have it easier. Honestly, we’re all just doing the best we can between screw ups, unexpected wins, and deep heartache.
None of that matters though, not in the big picture, or even the little picture. Every damn day I am just trying to not do or say things that will leave me with a hideous pit of, “Why did I do that?”
Briar found my blog two weeks ago. Somehow in the time between buying her a phone and her discovering Safari, it never once occurred to me that she would find my blog. I was sitting at my desk at when I heard the email ping.
I pushed my chair back from my desk, it hit the spot where the floors of our hundred+ year old building start to dip. I slid backward awkwardly. I threw my legs sideways while thrusting my upper body forward to slow my roll. As you can imagine, it was incredibly graceful. I cupped my hand over my mouth. I immediately panicked, “What if I’ve written something she shouldn’t see?”
Our beautiful, sunny studio was silent, I looked around half expecting looks of scorn and I told you so, which makes no sense, but the mind does what it does, I guess. Looking back at my computer I re-read her words.
“She spells mama differently than I do,” I thought. “She made LEGO into a verb.” The url included at the end of her comment was inspired by the book we are reading together before bed each night. My throat caught as I read on, remembering the forts I’ve made over the years. I wondered if she meant this fort.
I felt dull aches tugging at me; emotional musculature straining and cramping under the growing weight of the speed of life. I’ve been pulled in new directions at work just as the girls’ schedules and homework demands have spiked. Reading, spelling, math, special projects and permission slips. It’s nothing new really, but the context has shifted, there are penalties if I don’t sign that manifest in the girls’ performance and in the unspoken tenor of relationships with people at school.
That little yellow emoticon blowing me a kiss and wink had me thinking about how often I assume that I know what is important to Briar or to her sisters. I imagine that my take on things is similar to theirs. This comment of hers revealed the possibility that as I am tracking my failures, they are marking moments that they’ll cherish that I never considered.
Lately they’ve been asking me what I do at work. It’s hard for me to explain the nuance, “Well, it’s my job to secure new work. I try to find people or companies that could use our help.”
“And then they hire you?” they ask.
“Not exactly, it’s not enough to find them. I also have to show them why we’re the best for the job.”
“So you aren’t always the best?” their eyes are big and worried.
“No, but no one is. We take turns.”
They looked scared. “It’s ok. I like what I do and I am good at, so is dad. All of us are good at what we do.”
“How do you do it, I mean, like what do you actually do?” Avery asked.
I had to laugh. I’ve often lamented not having a tangible product. “I can’t exactly show you what I do, but I can show you me trying to do what I do.” They looked at me with tilted heads and confused faces.
“Ok, so listen, sometimes we have to do pitches, not like baseball, but it’s still kind of throwing something. It’s like we toss an idea out, in this case the idea being, Trampoline can help you grow your business. Hopefully they catch the toss and decide to keep it, does that make sense?”
“How would you show us that?” Ave asked. She is the kid that wants to know things, Briar wants to fix things, Finley wants to do things. I genuinely just want to stay in the category of things they enjoy for as long as I can.
“You know how movies sometimes have the funny scenes at the end?” I asked.
They nodded, Finley started regaling us with the outtakes of a movie she’d seen recently.
“Exactly, Fin,” I said. She beamed. “Here, I can show you a video dad made of me making mistakes.”
Briar looked at me with concern, “You make mistakes? He teases you about them? Oh, mom, I don’t think that’s very nice.”
Ave chimed in, “I think that’s awesome. Are they on YouTube?”
I nodded. “Wanna see?” They gave me an enthusiastic “right now!” response.
The thing about being a mom, no, I take that back, the thing about being me, sometimes I define my life and my worth too rigidly, separating the good and the bad and hoping that I have more of the former. I am not all good or all bad and sometimes what might be bad about me is actually what brings my relationship with my girls closer. It can also be the thing that makes me bette at work, or in relationships.
We’re going to be ok, we just have to be ok with the fact that life comes with outtakes.