Thanks DMoms for sharing our moatblog experience … especially since the friend with whom I was lunching was their editor Joslyn Taylor. I’ve just loved getting to know her. And boy did she put some wind in my sails that day.
“I probably had said too much, but what am I supposed to do?” I wondered aloud while munching on my amazing salad at the Nasher. “Live in a vacuum? … I can’t imagine that being healthy.”
“What’s going on?” my friend with whom I was lunching asked.
“One of our kids is struggling. Tough struggling. I’m sure most of it is just life – but he’s shredding my heart. I’m hurting – and wondering – and worrying – and trying – then messing up – then apologizing. I guess I’ve been trying to figure out if we’re okay… Figuring out aloud.”
“So – what’s wrong with that.”
“Well, I guess that’s where my friend who was listening to me decided to help by pointing out things I could do differently and telling me answers.” Pause… “It felt like she was dishing a load of judgment, not help. Then in all my suppressed-teen emotion, I sassed back at her, ‘Why don’t you come live my life and parent these kids yourself. I’m sure you can do a much better job than me! I’m guess I’m not perfect!.’ Then I changed the subject and did my best to get off the phone. I was pathetic.”
“Sounds like you’re the perfect mom.” My silence begged her to fill it. “You’re the perfect mom for that kid.”
She smiled matter-of-factly and continued, “Sounds like you’re living life. Doing some great stuff. Making mistakes… then apologizing. Which means the perfect mother for those kids.” She took a sip of her drink, then added, “Sounds good to me.”
I wasn’t sure if I bought it, but she sure was nice.
After lunch, I raced to my car that had been sitting in our unseasonably hot December sun. Opening the car door, I noticed a familiar smell. A strange smell that didn’t quite fit with my car. I tried unsuccessfully to place it. It wasn’t foul. Just out of place.
Late for carpool as usual, I ignored the smell, grateful it wasn’t something worse and zipped north on to the Tollway. Around Mockingbird, I placed it. The smell wafting from my back seat was Windex. Then I remembered my Target run a few days earlier. One of the kids had called while I was out to tell me she couldn’t find any cleaner. So I bought two jumbo bottles and put them on the floor behind my seat. Within minutes of my leaving Target, the kid called to say she found the Windex and not to worry.
Life went on and, as is often the case in my less than perfect world, and I forgot about the backseat bag of Windex for a few days. Until I smelled it.
Hidden under stray school papers a few socks and some clothes, one of the bottles had broken open. Not only was my floorboard soaked, so was my youngest’s school sweater.
I raced home and dumped the soaked mats and other sundries from the floorboard on the front porch. I threw the sweater in the wash and returned to carpool duty.
As riders later piled in my car and commented about the smell, I shrugged it off as a fresh clean result of our now uncluttered car.
That Windex seems to be the story of my life. A call for help. My attempt to solve the problem. The “never-mind.” Inevitable distraction by other issues. The resulting big mess. My attempt to clean-up. Everyone keepin’ on.
Things rarely go as plan.
Then I thought about my friend’s perfect parent comment. And I decided she’s right. Parenting isn’t about being perfect. It’s really about leaning into “perfect imperfection”.
As I hugged my little guy good-bye the next day, I tried to hide a smirk as I caught a whiff of his cologne. The Eau de Windex was a sweet reminder to me how these kids don’t expect me to be perfect. They do expect me to stick with them. To to stay by their side. To encourage them on the hills and loops of their inevitable roller coaster ride. And to breathe easy with them as they coast on straight-aways and gear up for what lies beyond the next curve.
Thanks for walking the road with me.