She Wins

I started leaving the house at 6:15am this summer to start my work day a little earlier. At the time, I didn’t give much thought to when I would be both going to and coming home from work in the dark. I just wanted to be done work at 4pm so I was able to pick up my kid and be home before 6:30pm. That part works well, but now that it’s dark in the morning and at night, those early mornings can be a little rough. See this tweet from last week:

Sean and Flora are usually still asleep while I get ready. I usually poke Sean awake enough to tell him I’m leaving, Flora’s lunch is packed, to drive safe and that I love him before I kiss him goodbye. Sometimes I even get a response beyond “mmrphh”. I then go into Flora’s room, kiss her on the cheek, whisper my I love you and leave the room quietly. I go downstairs, grab my bags, turn out the lights I turned on and off I go.

Now that we’re no longer on Daylight Savings Time, we’re all a bit screwed up. Flora is zonked by bedtime and I’ve spent the last couple of days both not wanting to get up, and not wanting to go to bed, so I’m fighting it on both ends. The nights feel so late now that it’s pitch black so much earlier than usual.

Not sure why this extra hour screws us up so much – it’s not like this time change business is a new thing.

This morning I got up and got ready as usual. I was running a little late, but nothing awful. As I was saying goodbye to Sean I heard little feet and told him “we have a friend coming in”. Soon a little girl in a Hello Kitty nightgown came in to use our bathroom. I told Flora I was leaving and that I was late.

She looked at me and asked, “Am *I* late?”

“No baby, you’re fine. Come down with me and you can get a cereal bar and I’ll give you a hug before I go.”

Flora held my hand as we walked down the stairs together. I opened her cereal bar and got my hug. She went back upstairs to talk Sean into some early-morning cartoons. I was doing a couple of last-minute chores before I could finally leave when I heard her yelling something unintelligible at me. On the third time I asked her to repeat myself, she finally said it clearly.

“One more hug mama.”

Like most working parents (edit – like *all* parents), I hold on to oodles of guilt surrounding how I balance my family, my marriage, my work, my life, and myself. We have an okay system, but it doesn’t take much for that system to unravel. I don’t always make the right decision at the right moment. I do what I can to keep as many people at least a little bit happy all of the time. Most of the time, I do okay, but I wish it wasn’t always so hard.

It wasn’t a hard choice to give my daughter one more hug. I need those hugs as much as she does. Those extra moments remind me that Sean and I are Flora’s advocates. No one else will have her back like we do. She will learn – is learning – so much from her teachers and other adults in her life, but she needs to learn how a family treats each other from us. How to form healthy relationships. How to be thoughtful and kind.

And, like it or not, teaching my daughter those things are more important to me than catching the 6:39 train into Union Station.

She wins. She has to.


No one was hurt

I had a car accident about six weeks ago.

It was minor as far as car accidents go: I was okay, the other guy was okay. Our cars needed some work, but that is long settled and I’m back behind the wheel. I wasn’t sore the next day, but I was exhausted emotionally after spending hours sobbing out of shame, fear and worry. I’m not sure if I’ve ever cried that much all at once.

What if I had hurt the other person?

What if I had been hurt?

What if my kid had been with me?

What if? What if? What if?

I spent a lot of time the day of the accident waiting for someone to yell at me: the other driver, the woman at the body shop, the report taker and cop at the collision centre, Sean, my mom, my colleagues who were waiting for me at the office.

No one yelled – people were almost blasé about it. “Cars get wrecked all the time. No one was hurt and that’s what matters.” This is true and I would say the same thing to someone else, but I had a hard time shaking the shame and the guilt that I. Fucked. Up.

It happened on my way to work so I drive past the spot where it happened twice a day, five days a week. These days, I’m extra vigilant around where it happened, but not overly so. I made sure to get back behind the wheel quickly so I wouldn’t be afraid to when my car was fixed. Two days after the accident, I drove with Sean and Flora to the grocery store. Sean bristled at being a passenger and I got us all there in one piece. This event and the expected reactions to it were a big step to returning back to normal.

And I am back to normal. Mostly.

#reverb10 – Day 11: 11 Things

December 11 Prompt

Author: Sam Davidson
50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

  1. I want to get rid of  physical clutter. I’m pretty good about purging on a semi-regular basis, but I think I put more back into the Keep pile than I should.
  2. I want to get rid of emotional clutter too. I overthink, I worry and all the constant cycling through the day’s thoughts keeps me up at night.
  3. I want to eliminate unnecessary guilt from my life. The downside to being conscientious and sensitive to other people and their needs is that I often feel a lot of guilt. I’m sick of feeling like nothing I do is ever enough so I need to lose the guilt. It’s not helping me to do better – it only makes me feel worse.
  4. I want to remove the stress from my family’s morning routine. When I don’t sleep well at night, I have trouble getting up in the morning (not a unique problem I know). Getting all three of us out the door in a reasonable timeframe is always a challenge. Now that winter is on its way, there’s shoveling and car-scraping to contend with. The timesuck factor in these tasks alone makes this an important issue to deal with.

This isn’t an 11-item list. These are pretty big issues though, so I think it’s better to take on these four big issues and succeed than struggle with eleven separate issues at the same time. I choose to consider this reduction in list items a stress-reducer, so maybe I can consider this list item #5: I want to stop taking on so much I end up paralyzed an unable to make decisions.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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