You know the family that drives into the school parking lot 2 minutes before the bell rings while the child finishes their oatmeal in the backseat and puts his shoes on? Uh, we are that family. We are the ones that get the warning email about tardiness from the school principal. Never had the TALK but every semester we get the warning.
This morning as I drove my son to school I thought “why is that?” Oh, on the surface it is easy enough to figure out. We stay up late. … Last night after work, my son wants to do something fun as a family (a regular request) and we ended up doing pizza and putt-putt. Although, he became a moving obstacle on every hole as we moved through the course, and my husband shot the ball up his shorts as an added bonus. Then, because we are not total schmucks we did spelling review, baths, reading and all the bedtime comfort rituals. We know the definition of being good parents includes all this stuff.
But, this morning my mind went to a different time….many years ago, when I was the child.
I was the kid always on time. Early. Pressed, hairs all in place, color coordinated. Appropriately dressed….whatever that means.
NEVER ate oatmeal in the car. Are you kidding? Mom drove the kind of car that looked better on the inside AFTER you bought it. She once put small bud vases in the drink holders and would have faithfully kept flowers there if I didn’t laugh my butt off about it. Sorry, couldn’t help it. Who does that?
My mom would not know what to do with my parenting skills (or lack of them). Pizza for dinner. No, pizza was for birthdays and weekends. Putt Putt on a school night? Only if it was a scout event with a signed permission slip. Monopoly? Do you know how involved that is? (Uh, yes, it’s why I will find your weakness. I will buy Park Place and I will completely bankrupt you…until you cry for mercy. Note to those reading this: don’t play with an entrepreneur, they are NUT CASES with this game.) Wedgie Uno? (Our family ritual in which the loser gets a wedgie)….a thousand times no….and you’re weird for even thinking of this.
She’s been gone 6 months and do you know what I miss most? Why I pulled into the parking lot at work this morning and cried for 5 minutes before going in? Although Mom was a better woman in a thousand ways than I will ever be, I miss that we were never late…and whatever wonderful things we could have done together to make us late.
All this to say, we will probably always get the warning email and eat oatmeal in the car. I know there are families who can balance it all and God bless them. I’m not bright enough or quick enough or (let’s be truly transparent) disciplined enough to be that. But, that’s okay….not great, just okay.
I’d rather have my son grieve for missing me than for missing all he wished he had with me.
Sometimes in grief you miss what was, but sometimes you miss most what never was…what never will be.
Beth Wendling is a wife and mother who has a passion for orphans and vulnerable kids. She founded Orphans Treasure Box, a unique bookstore that sells donated books online and in their outlet so that the net profits can be given to orphans globally and locally. In her former careers, she was a Dean of Students,a Communications professor and a licensed therapist.