Most of us do our best. We try to get it right. We schedule, plan, drop off, pick up, organize, socialize, politicize, make, fold, wash, put away, fix, teach, scold, enlighten, remind, wonder and love. All.the.time. We also forget, show up late, lose, get lost, yell, nag, compare, worry and love.
We are parents, it's what we do.
We celebrate victories big and small. Well adjusted kids that get good grades? Um, a really good feeling. Laundry that is all folded, put away and you know, caught up? Yeah, that is the best five minutes maybe ever.
But more important than how we celebrate, is how we rebound. How we come back from the five million mistakes we make, how we cope is critical to parental survival.
Last week, Tim and I forgot something and we felt like total garbage. Lucy lost a tooth at school and was very excited to put it under her pillow. I loved that she was still into the whole tooth fairy deal. She's in fourth grade, the days of fairies and magic are numbered.
The next morning, Lucy stomped down the stairs and informed us "she forgot." I gave her a look that said "oh my god, how could that bitch tooth fairy forget about you, my perfect angel, I would never forget you, ever." And then I said, "well, honey, maybe she has a good explanation, put the tooth back under your pillow."
"Well, if she doesn't come tonight, I'm not believing anymore," she stated and then sulked into the other room to pack her backpack for school.
I quickly called Tim and told him how we had totally screwed up and ruined everything. "We killed her belief in fairies," I scream-whispered. "She wants an explanation and 'I fell asleep on the couch because life is exhausting and I'm getting old' won't work."
Later that night, Tim and I stood in the kitchen staring at each other wondering what we would tell Lucy. Suddenly, Tim started scribbling something down in his best tooth fairy handwriting. Without speaking, he pushed the piece of paper across the counter top. It was weird and brilliant.
It wasn't too wordy or apologetic. The tooth fairy wasn't full of guilt, she was super busy, but doing her best. There.
"She came, she remembered me!," Lucy squealed as she ran down the stairs full of happiness and belief. Brazil made perfect sense to her.
She forgave her and felt loved, that's what kids do.
I may not know a lot about parenting, but I do know front porches.
So much in fact, I'm giving out advice in the Detroit Free Press. Check it out.