… on my-byself, but not


Frosty Morning

This morning I tumbled out of bed, nearly literally.

All my-byself.

It was early, and JoHn has been away for an unexpectedly long time helping Number One Son Sam extricate himself from the clutches of a landlord (‘land’ being generous) who seems to have decided that a termite infestation, and the resulting… you know… absence of things like floor support – along with other super skeevy pest-y things – are not really his responsibility.

This will all be okay, of course. A learning opportunity for sure, and a good one. It’s actually quite satisfying to be able to help, to give advice and see it taken with appreciation.

Parents of teenagers, take comfort. This is what happens later on (I know – I didn’t believe it back then either!)

That being said, there is always that flash of wanting to jump in and fix it – whatever it is, if its big. Heck, even if it’s not. I still order them around when they’re sick – what to eat and drink and which cough medicine works best. And, if they happen to be home, I’ll make sure they’re all comfy on the couch and put on their favorite ‘sick movie’. Sure, okay, at this point we are both laughing as I do it – me at myself for being so willing, them at themselves for accepting it.

No, it’s not freaky or strange or therapy-require-y to be this way. It’s just garden-variety parental.

I have visions of my 92-year-old self taking a phone call from a 63-year-old ‘kid’, not liking what I hear and strapping on my shield, grabbing my sword and heading out to slay whatever dragon needs slaying.

Okay, maybe that’s extreme.

I might choose a cross-bow.

But you get it.

We want our kids to be okay, and we want to help where we can, even as they stand on their own.

Which brings me to ‘by-myself’.

And that started with Mac.

Two years old, maybe even younger. She’d be futzing with something or other, clearly frustrated. Maybe it was a puzzle piece that wouldn’t fit, or a shoe that wouldn’t get onto a foot fast enough. Maybe we’d be in a hurry, or she had tried for so long she had tears in her big brown eyes, and I’d reach in to help and she’d blast me.

“No Mommy! No! MY-BYSELF!”

Loved it then.

Love it now.

I know she knew I had her back… they all did.  Any one of them knew they could ask for my help – or Daddy’s or Granny’s or Grampa’s – if they needed it. But that drive to get it done ‘my-byself’ was strong. And it usually turned out just fine.

Though, not that I think of it, there was this run of Gabe-oriented ‘my-byselfs’ that resulted in a sticky situation or two.

Principal Myerson, stopping me as first-grade Gabe was struggling to pull his backpack from the car and get into the school before the bell: “Hey, Lisa. Good morning! Glad I caught you. This thing with Gabe wearing one sock. Is that a new thing?”

Seems Gabe was going through a phase of wearing one of any particular pair of anything, and then the other little boys were insisting that they were only going to wear one of their pairs of things.

Turns out other parents were actually paying attention when their kids wore one sock, or  a single mitten to school. Go figure.

I knew I had a problem when one mother called to pre-empt a Gabe-tivity.

Me, picking up phone: “Hello?”

Other Mom: “Hello, Lisa? This is Susie Concerniopsis. I was calling you, hoping you could help me out. It seems Gabe has told a few of the boys that he is going to get a mohawk next week. You know how kids are. So now Sonnyboy wants to get one too and… well, I was wondering if you might consider, because there is only one week of school before summer vacation… well, I was wondering if you would consider having Gabe get his mohawk after the last day of school.”

Me: Pause.

Other Mom: “Hello? Are you there?”

Me: Laughing.

Other Mom: Pause

Me: I did not know Gabe wanted a mohawk. I’ll ask him about it.

Other Mom: It’s just that they’re only in second grade…

Me: Uh huh.

Okay, so call me kooky, but ‘they’re only in second grade’ seemed like a really good time for a kid to rock a mohawk. I mean, if Mac wanted one now, I think it would have more of an impact on her job prospects (let alone her wedding photos). But that’s just me.

Gabe got his mohawk that day.

And no one ever did beg me to join the PTA.

But my point is… wait, let me root around for it for a sec… ah, yes.

My point is that I love that they have wings, and I also love that they know how to reach out for, and/or accept help. Too many times, as a younger adult, I thought asking for help was a sign that I was not a ‘grown-up’.

It took me a long time to realize that asking for – and accepting – help was a major part of being a grown-up.

A grown-up life isn’t about ‘having all the answers’, but knowing where one might find them. And, sure, while some answers can be found via a Google search, many exist in the people we have formed close relationships with – friends, family… those connections formed over time, some requiring great effort, along with love and patience… grown-up traits, all.

Over the past twenty-three or so years, I’ve moved from giver of life, to benevolent dictator to trusted advisor… with all the lumps and bumps and joys and victories and celebrations that came along the way.

And I’ve learned that none of us get here ‘my-byself’, and it can feel just as good to have folks around us to depend on…

As it does to be needed.

Thanks for readin’.

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