Parenting Gone Well

-Peggy O'Mara.  

It was after 11 a.m. I’d been up for hours and already had two cups of coffee. I’d read the newspaper and worked on a blog post. I’d cleaned the kitchen and started dinner. I’d gone to the pharmacy and the grocery store.

On my way to the dry cleaner, with a list of more things to do in my hand, my phone lit up. There was a text from my 16-year-old daughter who was still on summer vacation.

TEXT MESSAGE: The air conditioning in my room does not work at all and so I couldn’t fall asleep last night till 2 a.m. and I woke up 20 times in a heat flash.

SEPARATE TEXT: And I’m dripping sweat.

If I had written back based on my initial reaction, it would not have been pretty.

Do you know what I’ve already done this morning and how much I still have to do? You slept until noon (when I’m upset, I tend to exaggerate) and you’re complaining? Is that text a nice way to start the day?

But I also know I was triggered by her discomfort. Honestly, when things don’t go right for her, I feel it. I took a deep breath and reminded myself I’m not responsible for everything, and that I didn’t have to fix the situation immediately; we’d both survive.

Parenting is not science; it’s an art. Our communication doesn’t always go well; but on that morning, it did.

MY TEXT: Good Morning, Love.

No lecture. (Admittedly, there was a bit of sarcasm but tinged with affection.)

HER TEXT: Lol.

Fish-El-Bee

I’m getting great feedback on my blog name, From The Core. I’m glad I changed it. For a time, I was going to call the blog Fishelbee, which in my world means getting things off your chest. But fishelbee is an Arabic word, and is said in a guttural manner. Its connotation is more like verbal throw up than poetic expression, which I thought was kind of funny.

My daughter-in-law, Margo, said, “You can’t name your blog Fishelbee. When people see the blogger Leandra in the airport they point and say, there’s Man Repeller." (The name of Leandra’s blog is Man Repeller). "You don’t want people pointing at you and saying, There’s Fish.”

She’s spot on.

I adore my daughters-in-law. I have two. Margo and Jaclyn. During the summer, we live together in the same house in New Jersey. I can’t think of a better way to describe Margo than to tell you that she wears false eyelashes and killer high heels at night and performs autopsies for criminal investigations during the day. She loves dogs but hates fish. Especially betta fish, which are known to be aggressive and prefer to live alone. When placed in a tank with another betta fish, one usually kills the other.

Jaclyn bought a betta fish the other day. His name is Rex, he's blue and sits in a glass bowl on the windowsill in the kitchen. Unlike the betta fish, we (my two daughters-in- law and me) must live in harmony and so when Margo asks if she can flush the fish down the toilet while Jaclyn is out, I say no. When she opens the window and fakes a yawn with out-stretched arms, I cup the fish bowl saving it from a mighty crash.

Margo’s half joking because she wouldn’t really kill the fish. At least not without asking Jaclyn’s permission first; but she does think the fish and its murky water is gross.

Jaclyn, on the other hand, is more capricious. I can’t see her cutting a steak with precision much less a human body. She’s a dancer and a new mom. The dirty water doesn’t faze her a bit.

Living together can be challenging. We could complain. We could focus on how there’s so little privacy, how we can’t keep food in the house, how the kids wake each other up. We could nag about how our car was blocked in the driveway yet again and the kitchen is always a mess. We could nitpick. Fishelbee.

But we don’t.

Rex was here. Sometimes things take care of themselves.