The other morning I officially hit a new parenting low when I literally promised my daughter gold at 5AM if she would just be quiet. Whatever. It didn't even work. And in this moment I was particularly struck by two universal truths about parenting: 1) anything you say at crazy hours of the night and early morning can never be held against you by your spouse or children during regular human hours, and 2), you must accept that which you cannot control.
On this particular morning, Ruby
woke up for THE DAY at 4:55AM (anything before 6AM in my book is completely
unacceptable) and did so by singing the ABC’s at the top of her lungs. Which
would have been annoying but manageable had she not put the fear of G-d in me
that she would also wake her brother before 6AM, a completely unmanageable
situation requiring a 4:30pm bedtime for the entire family. I was literally pleading
with her 2 year old mind for silence as she stared at me with her large and
completely blank eyeballs and began to belt out her next number. Sigh – fail.
I was shaking with sheer terror at
the thought of Dylan waking up at this time of day and trudging through the
rest of his hours in a painstakingly fatigued state. A similar scene had played
out last month when we had all shared a hotel room together on a family
vacation, which, if you’ve ever shared a hotel room with your small children on
vacation you know there is nothing fun, relaxing or vacation-esque about it.
With each tiny sigh or snore that came out of their little bodies pre-dawn, I
lay in terror at the thought of someone waking up, screaming and starting all
of our days like that at 4:30AM. Suddenly, my husband passed gas and I shot him
the look of death, thinking “how dare you nearly wake our children?!” And then
I realized that I almost just threatened to divorce my husband because he
passed gas which he should totally be allowed to do in the privacy of his hotel
room on vacation and that, by the way, I was not sleeping at all on my own
vacation but instead lying awake watching the seconds tick by trying to micromanage
every second of every one’s life including my husband’s gastrointestinal
distress, and my children’s sleep patterns– which is utterly and completely ridiculous.
I am never in control – they are and even knowing this, I still begin each day
swimming against the tide, believing I can change the outcome. Until I hit a
wall and become completely peaceful. It is the moment when I realize that I
must accept that which I cannot control. These tiny humans are in complete
control of my life and whatever the plan is, you can bet I’m just following
their lead. If even for a moment I can
find peace with this concept, than I’ve found my moment of Zen. And the reality
is that maybe if can let myself truly relax and let things unfold as they are
supposed to or are going to no matter what, then maybe I’ll even be able to
enjoy my vacation, or our life without the constant worrying. And it won’t be a
perfectly napped, planned day – it will be its usual blend of thinly veiled
chaos: perfect disorganization. Which is really what life is supposed to be
after all, isn’t it? At least life with children J
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Tomorrow will be a very important day. It is the birthday of the first man who I ever gave and received unconditional love from: my dad.
My dad is, I suppose, a walking contradiction of sorts. He is an intellectual but has relied on his street smarts and uncanny ability to read people to guide him through life. He is artistic and thoughtful, but cannot resist a Mel Brooks joke about knockers. He has had every reason to bury himself in a series of tragedies and sorrows that have seemed to follow him somewhat relentlessly in life, but instead pursues happiness with a near fervor.
He grew up a first generation American living in one of the roughest immigrant neighborhoods of Hartford. He shared a room with his older sister, met his soul mate at a dance when he was 13, put himself through college, worked nights as a pharmacist while he got his law degree, rose up through the ranks of a major corporation, built a life with his wife and lived the American dream. There was a house in the suburbs and children and bat mitzvahs and birthdays and weddings and grandchildren. And in that time, he outlived his parents, two brothers, his sister and his wife.
Through it all – and whether it was or it wasn’t – he made it look easy. It is not easy to be the lone man in a house of chattering women and yet he survived, proving that it was manly to be sensitive and kind; to be strong, to be smart, to work hard and laugh hard and cry hard. And that being able to do so made him even bigger in my eyes.
But by far – the thing I love most about my father (other than how he makes my kids eyes light up when he visits) is that he has lived enough to know who he is, to know his truth, and to be okay with it. He is sincere and honest and in a society of glitz and gadgets where it’s a race to the superficial finish line, he is real. And I will never be able to thank him enough for offering me that. He is my anchor.
Thanks for it all Dad. Sorry you couldn’t get a word in at the dinner table for all those years! I love you. Happy Birthday!