I try hard to do things right. I realize that’s a subjective term. But I can’t help feeling that in every task I undertake, there is a right and a wrong method of action. As a parent, I consistently and heartily aim for “right.” However, more often than not, I land smack dab in the center of “Wow, you really blew it. This is so utterly, completely and totally wrong.”
But I’ve realized that my children, no matter how “right” I may be in my parenting decisions, will remember only the silly, foolish, unmistakably “wrong” choices I seem to make. I have thus determined to stop lamenting my “wrongness,” and to instead live an unexamined life in which I do not dwell in the deep caverns of guilt, remorse and debilitating self awareness.
I came to this rather startling conclusion yesterday when I picked up my boys from school and cheerfully announced that we were having a picnic for snack today. Of course their immediate focus was on the lack of appealing beverage options and my forgetfulness for leaving the outdoor blanket behind in our garage. We instead headed to Starbucks.
But, since I’d gone to Trader Joes specifically to indulge my children with favorites like fresh mango, pineapple and decadent chocolate brownies, I insisted we snack on our picnic items while sipping our apple juice and iced passion fruit teas (unsweetened). My disgruntled imps argued about seating locale, size of beverage, and state of boredom. But I remained calm and upbeat, determined to enjoy a pleasant afternoon.
The mango was too hard. The pineapple, too sweet. I saved the brownies for last, knowing that they were my ace in the hole. I might be horribly disposed to doing everything wrong, but at least I knew my chocolate delights were going to land me in good stead. When I could wait no longer, I pulled them out. They were met with gleeful cheers and expressions of maternal adoration. Finally, I was doing parenting “right.”
My youngest, Eli, bit into his first. His reaction was abnormally neutral. Brownies were his favorite sweet. Yet he seemed oddly displeased by these. But it was Levi’s horrific face and gag reflex that pushed me over the edge.
“Ach! Mom, these are DISGUSTING!” He cried shrilly.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I asserted impatiently, decidedly done with accepting my role as maternal doormat. “You love Trader Joe’s brownies. You’re just being impossible.”
“No, mom,” he was still spitting out brownie, “They’re like…salty…and gross!”
“Levi,” I announced, “I am through trying to do nice things for you. It is simply not worth it.” And without my consent, my bottom lip charged into pouting position, my arms crossed and my body turned as far away from the table as was possible.
Then Eli piped up tactfully, “Mom, They really aren’t so good. I mean, I’ll eat it. But it’s not my favorite.”
Frustrated and defeated, I grabbed the lid with the label to read the ingredients. It was then that I saw the truth. I started to giggle in spite of myself. I couldn’t stop. The boys watched me as if I were a straight-jacketed patient in a padded cell. Perhaps they thought I had finally snapped.
“Mom,” they cautiously inquired, “What’s so funny?”
It took me a few moments to regain my composure. Then I showed them the label. “Sea salt brownies,” it claimed. “A savory twist on a traditional favorite.”
Suddenly, we were all chortling. The more we tried to hold back the peels of laughter, the bigger they became. And it was then, for a brief unadulterated moment, without even a hint of self consciousness, that I realized I had finally done something “right.”