My beloved Jana (perhaps now more than ever) went on a well deserved vacation this past week. And when I say vacation, I mean it. She was gone for 5 days to the beach. No children. No me. Just a few other ladies hanging out, eating crab legs, and sitting on the beach.
And I continue to hope that I have not inflicted irreparable harm on our 3 children in her absence. So here’s a few things I learned from my brief stint as a single parent:
1. My wife’s job is hard. Pretty much a no brainer here, especially for you mommy readers. But it shouldn’t go without saying. We have an 8 year old, a 5 year old, and a 2 year old. And they all require attention. Often at the same time. It’s a constant stream of homework, making lunches, piano lessons, cleaning up urine, and anything else you can throw in the mix. It’s a hard job, one that takes great faith, patience, and perseverance.
2. Pancakes are suitable for any meal. I have confirmed this. It’s true.
3. Boundaries bring freedom, not slavery. Our kids live on a schedule. Most homes are like that. This is a good thing, I think, because everyone knows clearly what the expectations are, and having met those expectations, there is freedom. Sometimes, in parenting and for parents too, we think that boundaries bring slavery. We want a free for all with time, money, and energy. But that is a dramatic reversal of the truth. Boundaries are formed from love. They create margin. They guard precious moments. And the discipline it takes to enforce them, on children and yourself, is well worth it.
3. Take a step back and reflect before speaking. I wish I could say that all went perfectly well in Jana’s absence. It did not. More than once I got frustrated, spoke in anger, and later had to apologize to one or more offspring. But the most helpful thing, looking back, was beginning to understand that it’s very helpful when frustrated to take a step back and, just for a second, isolate the true source of frustration. Is it valid? Does this really warrant the level of disciplinary rage I’m about to unleash? Or is this blown out of proportion because Mommy is gone and Daddy is a moron sometimes? Hmmmm…
4. It’s good to be on a team. The “team” thing is sort of a mantra around our house. We often say it to each other just as a reminder that we’re in this together. Same goals. Same purpose. And we don’t have to do it alone. It’s good to be on a team. To know that someone has your back. And fortunately, that someone is home again.
And if my wife asks, we only had pancakes once. Or maybe twice.