I was feeling pretty proud of myself this morning. I know these days that my energy level is highest in the morning so I was happy that I’d gotten up early and crossed some things off my mental to-do list. Bathroom cleaned. Check. Trash out. Check. I wanted to get school done early so that John could have a friend come over. The boys were awake and dressed. I was making breakfast. I was even mentally patting myself on the back for taking the time to play Playmobil with David when he had asked me. I fully admit that I was thinking thoughts along the line of “What a great Mom I am. See how I can get things done and even have the time to stop and smell the (Playmobil) roses.”
Well, I should have known that I was pretty much asking for a lesson in humility.
In the middle of spreading the peanut butter on the toast I got called to the playroom to intervene in something between John and David. It was a relatively minor infraction on David’s part but he hurt John’s feelings so I asked him to apologize. He utterly refused. Uh-oh.
The morning came crashing to a halt. As I was comforting John and trying to gently deal with David I heard this in my head “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. THIS IS NOT ON MY AGENDA TODAY.”
Then just as clearly I heard “THIS IS THE AGENDA.” And I realized that these moments are what being a parent is all about. Not in a warm and fuzzy Hallmark ad “this is what makes it all worthwhile” kind of way. I didn’t enjoy the next hour we spent with David in and out of Time Out. I didn’t enjoy having him cry and say he was ready to come out and then have him come and refuse again to say he was sorry. Rinse and repeat over and over again.
In fact, as I watched David my heart was breaking for him. I could see how hard he was struggling. I could see how hard it was for him to utter those words, “I’m sorry”. I could see how he just wanted me to hug him and make it better.
And boy, did I want to. It would have been so easy to just hug him and say something like “I know you are sorry” and let him off the hook this time. John even tried to get me to do this by saying he wasn’t hurt anymore and it was ok. But that wasn’t really the point. The point was that he needed to learn that even though it is really hard to say “I’m sorry” it is necessary. The point was that he needed to do it because it’s important. And he needed to do it because I’d asked him to.
So even though it would have been much easier and gotten us back to my scheduled agenda faster, I stuck with it. And as we all struggled through the morning I thought about how these moments are what my job as a parent is all about. Everything else on my “to-do” list is secondary to that. As a parent, you have to be present and you have to seize those moments. You have to hope that one day it will all bear fruit even if it’s hard to see that sometimes in the day to day. I have to hope that one day when David will be a man who can say he’s sorry to his wife and boss and kids. That will redeem all the unchecked items on all the to-do lists over the years.
Finally, this morning as John and I were sitting at the table reading we heard an “I’m ready”. This was about the 20th time David had said that so I didn’t have a lot of hope. But I looked up and said in what I hope was a calm and patient voice “Ok, what would you like to say.”
A little voice said “I’m sorry.” And then he looked up and a smile broke out across his face and all was right with the world again.
At least for now.