A day in the life of Parenting….Four Kids, Four States, Foretelling Moments
In the midst of grieving the loss of a parent and all that entails, preparing child Number 3 to go to college and attending a national out-of-state competition for Number 4, I had a moment at about 10 p.m. one night when all felt right with the universe. As a parent we learn to savor the good moments, which make the challenging ones in the young-adult teen years more tolerable.
Life happens. It’s not like the movies. Tragedy and loss don’t necessarily follow a clear story line where the plot starts with people relating, builds to a tense low point, crescendos to a beautiful learning moment, and ends with some sort of celebration. I love movies and stories for that very reason.
In reality, life is more than one plot happening at a time. Lifelines are interwoven by the relationships that we have -- mother-son, father-son, sisters, aunts, friends, bosses, neighbors and more. On the movie screen, we usually see one aspect of a relationship that tells a story. We live in a world though where mom calls in the morning to tell you about her doctor appointment, and two minutes into it – as she is sharing her diagnosis – your son walks in the kitchen in a panic because he cannot find his cars keys. At the same time, your husband or wife is on the other line trying to get ahold of you because something happened at the office, and your sister sends an email saying that she got a new job and will be moving.
These each could be complete stories on their own: 1) a mother’s story about informing her daughter that she has stage 3 breast cancer and the effects on the family; 2) a teenage son who is working through his own stress – school, friends, friends that are girls, sports, parental expectations – and he consistently looses track of his keys; 3) the tale of numerous events that happen at the office – an entire universe of its own -- and sometimes the employees tell the spouse and others (s)he stays silent until it become so big that it needs to come out; or 4) the dynamics of a sister relationship that is close – a true support lifeline – and she needs to leave to pursue her own life and passion, yet the other sister depends on her.
I can see movies in all of these plot lines; maybe that is because I have seen too many movies. Of course, I love to read, share and tell stories. I love to hear people’s stories. When my kids make fun of me, I tell them it is like the human exhibit at the zoo; you just can’t get enough of people’s real stories – seeing them in action and the decisions they make. After all, the best movies are based on real moments.
The key is that these are moments. In life, all these moments cross over and it makes life chaotic, dynamic, exciting, overwhelming and joy filled.
My chaotic moment at 10 p.m. was one of great joy. We were out of state for Number 4’s national competition, and an hour earlier, I got to watch him do what he loves. While he was practicing, my husband and I got to spend quality time with Number 3; a rare moment when Number 3 gets one-on-one time with Mom and Dad at any time.
To my great joy, while we waited for Number 4 to hear about awards, Number 1 called from another state, about an hour behind our time zone. She was chatty as she is embarking on her life as an adult. She is living on her own, in a new state. She has a job and is getting a new apartment. I think it is an exciting time – a new beginning -- she is a little overwhelmed with it all. On the other hand, there was excitement in her voice as we discussed everything from couches and kitchen tables to job training and wardrobes. I loved it.
As if that was not enough, Number 3 texted me right after that and asked if I would be willing to make a deal with. She is in California, three hours time difference from Florida; she was just getting into the prime of her night. She had energy, and when I told her I was with dad and brothers, she said she wanted to talk with everyone. By the way, the deal was easy – she wanted to include a friend in something we were doing later that summer.
On the way back from the house, we got a text from the dog walker that the dogs are happy and doing just fine. My night was complete.
It was a full and fulfilling day. In one state, we got to watch a child do what he loves and spend quality time with one that will be in college next year. In other state, a young-adult child is starting her life and actually wanted to talk with me. In a third state, Number 2 young adult took time to connect with the family, even if it started as an ask. In the fourth state, our furry family members are happy and getting special attention.
I slept well that night, knowing that we can connect, regardless of where we are, what time zone we are in and all is well. It might not have made for an exciting movie plot, but it was my kind of story – a happy ending kind of day. It was foretelling of “connection” moments to come.