Since getting married and having kids I’ve been on a path of pursuing the ultimate level of preparedness. I want to have the power bar to slap in Sean’s hands as he starts to grouse, the drinks in hand before the girls mew from the back seat about being thirsty, the gum soother, bum cooler, and toys to fend off squabbles. Each time we leave the house I try to anticipate what might cross my path and, for the most part, I am getting really damned good at it. Every once in a while something happens that makes me think on my feet, but between twinkly smiles, goofy cajoling and glovebox-candy-bribing, I usually eke by.
Others are the element within the equation that I simply cannot defeat. Overcome? Conquer? Handle.
This afternoon I had to scold the girls and beyond that I had to banish them to their rooms and assign chores. Sean was gone and I knew on a primal level that the misstep needed to be addressed in the moment and without hesitation. I will admit that I want to be the friend, I want to be the parent that other kids adore and that invites a kind of organic staging of all fun things at our house. I know, completely unrealistic and, ultimately, not satisfying or manageable for anyone involved. And yet I want it, so lowering the boom while Sean was gone was not what I wanted to do.
I felt like a observer as my stern side took over and the girls responded with military precision and speed. Their faces showed how keenly aware they were that what had happened was wrong. I knew in that moment that under other circumstances I would have let it pass, would have said to Sean that they knew they’d blown it. I’d have said they did not instigate the event and that a mild scolding should be enough, but he wasn’t there and the price of not nipping this kind of decision in the bud was not something I wanted to ever have to know.
I busied myself cleaning the house and reminding myself why, even when it isn’t our fault/their fault/my fault, the impact of a decision needs to be weighed.
I nearly caved six times over as they did every little thing I asked and as more details emerged. But in the end, I told Sean what happened hours after the fact. I did it. I feel like a kid.
“Look! Do you see? Can you tell what I did? Isn’t it great? Did I do a good job?”
It’s different on this side of the equation, people rarely tell you when you’ve done a great job. It’s far more likely a stranger will tell you that you’ve failed then someone will touch your writst and say, “I know that was hard, but it was right. Thank you. You are making a difference for yourself, your child and the world.”
I saw it in their faces. They were sobered and tehy were wiser. We made it through together, and while we’ll never celebrate this moment, some day today’s discomfort will protect us from harm.
I don’t know your path and I cannot see your circumstances, but I want to tell you that you are doing a great job. Believe it and trust it.