I encouraged her more times than I can count to collect all of the items from my house she would want or need for her trip to Mexico the following week with her dad. The day she was leaving my house I ran through a mental checklist with her. Swimsuit? Check. Sandals? Check. She gathered her bag of items and off she went. A few days later – the day before her departure – I get the message. “Mom, I forgot my tennis shoes at your house and I need them for the trip. Can you bring them after work?”
Ugh. A couple of things for context: 1. My former spouse lives 19 miles from my house. 2. After work in rush hour it would take me more than an hour to take the shoes back and forth. 3. I already had plans for my evening that would now need to be re-navigated.
I felt my annoyance and resentment grow. I wasn’t taking my girls to an all-inclusive resort to Mexico – why was it my job to help them be prepared and packed for their trip? Why couldn’t her dad come get the tennis shoes? Why couldn’t her dad buy her a pair of tennis shoes from the Target two blocks away from his house?
As I stared at her message I had a choice in how I wanted to show up. I could be cooperative or I could be catty. It would be so easy to send a swift and snarky reply that I guessed her dad would need to come get the shoes then. I paused. The truth was, I had not seen my girls in 4 days already and they were about to be gone for 6 more. I would love the opportunity to see them once more before their trip.
Another truth I faced was that this is parenting. I do not get a pass on parenting because it “isn’t my day.” For as much as I may bemoan only getting to be a parent “half the time,” here was an opportunity for me to demonstrate this is not true. Regardless of time spent with them, I am their parent all of the time. As any parent who has had to leave work in the middle of the day to pick up a sick child, or who has had to make an unexpected trip to the store at 8:37 p.m. to pick up a poster board for a school project due the next day, parenting can be inconvenient. Parenting means a lot of annoying adjustments to plans and unexpected asks to support your children.
I decided to show up as her mom. To show up as her loving mom who wanted her to feel prepared and happy as she looked forward with enthusiasm to her trip. I said that of course I would drop them off after work. Round trip it took me an hour and thirteen minutes and I can tell you every second was worth it for the hug and the huge smile I received for showing up as the mom she knows best.