I woke up this morning to the sounds of pissed off birds taking their passionate revenge upon greedy pigs. The kid was playing Angry Birds on the other side of my bed. I thought it was odd that he had already been downstairs to get the iPod Touch in order to start playing. Normally, if he’s going to come to my room first thing in the morning on a weekday, it’s for a pre-teeth-brushing snuggle.
As soon as I opened my eyes, I knew that “odd” didn’t even come close to describing the situation. It was just flat out wrong. The amount of light coming through my curtains betrayed a much later hour of the morning than was proper for a on-time getting-ready-for-school moment.
I checked my phone. It was a few minutes after 8am. Groan. I sort of, kind of, remember my alarm going off…and I sort of, kind of remember hitting snooze. Clearly, I had hit it a little too enthusiastically.
I wasn’t surprised that I had slept late.
It’s not typical for me to loose control of the waking-up situation on a school day (in fact, this is the first time that I can remember this kind of thing happening – at least, this school year), but last week was a doozie…and the weekend finished me off. There were a lot of high running emotions and a lot of physical demands on my body. Add that to my third week of ongoing sickness…and we’ve got a good excuse for taking advantage of extra time in bed. Certainly not convenient, but understandable in light of the surrounding circumstances.
I was scrambling to try and make the pieces fit…
It was Monday, wasn’t it?
Where was the ex? Was he okay?
The kid seemed okay – had he had breakfast?
Curses upon curses on my alarm clock!!
Words stumbled out of my mouth:
Sweetheart, we’ve got to get ready for school now. Go change your clothes and I will help you brush your teeth. Where’s your Daddy?
The response: Daddy is gone. He left for work.
I had nothing except rage.
The ex works across the street from the kid’s school. We established a morning routine when the kid started kindergarten last year: the ex takes the kid to school, since it’s so convenient and saves on gas. It also works out time-wise, since the high school (where the ex is a teacher) starts their day later than the elementary school. The morning routine has adjusted slightly depending on living arrangements, but since I’ve moved back in…the standard is: I get up, I get the kid up (if he isn’t already), I get the kid ready (change clothes and brush teeth), feed him breakfast, prep his lunch and make sure he’s got his homework folder in his book bag. And then, they leave. It works out for a pleasant morning about 85% of the time (sometimes, there’s grumpiness to overcome).
There was nothing but black storm clouds in my head:
Why didn’t he holler at me to get up and get the kid ready? Why didn’t he just get the kid ready himself? Why would he choose – if he was angry at me – to let the kid suffer? Why would he be angry with me (there’s nothing that I could think of that happened since the last time we had talked)? Again, why was he not capable of just being nice and handling the situation with kindness – for the sake of his kid (he’s always welcome to take it out on me later)?!
I was trying to hustle myself and the kid into hyper gear to get out of the door as soon as possible; and was really struggling with not letting my anger spill out onto the process of getting ready. And, of course, the kid was being obstinate. I had already fussed at him a handful of times in the span of 5 minutes…please get ready; please stop playing with the Touch and focus on putting on your clothes; why don’t you want to wear that shirt; please use the bathroom; dear god, stop complaining…
I finally stopped. I needed to get in control.
It wasn’t like we weren’t already late. What harm was another ten minutes going to do? I realized that taking an extra bit of time to achieve peace was going to matter bucket-loads in the grand scheme of things.
I sat him down and got on his level.
Are you okay? This is a school morning and is turning out very differently than usual…how are you feeling? Talk to me so that we can get through this morning in once piece. Why are you fussing over every single thing?
Bless his little heart. He got emotional. He said that he was tired and sleepy. I told him I understood completely. I gave him a hug…and a pep talk. We managed to move beyond the superficial squabbles of the morning and get down to the business of getting ready…with a pleasant attitude.
(That little kid of mine…he’s got a good heart; and he really is a trooper. I love him.)
I had him munching on breakfast, when I ran back upstairs to change into something more presentable than snowflake jammie pants. I breathed deep. I was still livid with the ex. Just completely appalled at his inability to step up for the kid (again, it would be different if I slept late every morning, but that is certainly not the case). Another deep breath…
More anger. More questions.
More deep breaths…
And then I came to it…
I am a single mother. Period. I am living with him to manage this property for a final solution: an appraisal or a straight-to-market sale. There’s nothing beyond that. If we had been doing fine as a family before, I wouldn’t have left him. Why should I expect that we’d be doing fine as a family now?! We have moments of kindness, moments of happiness – they don’t replace the day-to-day commitment of working hard towards the common goals of love and selflessness for the good of the unit.
I only know that he chose not to be kind this morning, for whatever reason. I can only guess as to why…because it was inconvenient for him, maybe he was mad at me and wanted “get back at me,” or maybe he was running late himself and didn’t want to accept the responsibility of the small human life he fathered…
Part of the problem we had before the divorce was his inability / lack-of-desire to communicate with me. That hasn’t changed. And I’ve long accepted the fact that it’s not something I can inspire within him. I am not enough for him to decide to change his life. His son isn’t enough for him to decide to change his life. He’s got to do it on his own…
That’s kinda part of the reason why I am here in the first place. His inability or lack-of-desire also extends to the property we own together.
Change what I can: my attitude and behavior.
Accept what I cannot change: his attitude and behavior.
Make choices to enhance my life: remain positive which will bless my heart and the kid’s heart.
I will choose love.
I will choose to move forward with peace in my heart; because it is good for me, because it is good for my son. I will focus on things that I can directly affect. I will let go of the things that I cannot change. I will make decisions based on goodness, not pettiness.
We made it to school. Sure, it was late; but neither was it the end of the world. I had a chance to catch up with the kid’s teacher from last year, who very kindly keeps his eyes and ears open for the latest news on my dear boy. I stepped into the school psychologist’s office for a impromptu meeting, making sure that we were on the same page regarding the changes in the little man’s life. I came up with a plan to spend my morning wisely within a Plan B.
“I am the captain of my soul.” — William Ernest Henley