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Short and Sweet: Fill the Gaps

A lesson on community, in 100 or fewer words:

One evening last week, I received an email asking if anyone could cover classes for a colleague whose son had an accident.  Since I had no obligations during one slot, I immediately replied yes.  Others did the same.  Within no time, her classes were covered.

The next day, a neighbor called with news of her father's failing health.  She'd need to travel abroad to visit him, and we arranged what days I'd watch her daughter during her trip.

Because this is what community does. It finds one aspect of a hard situation and makes it better.  It fills the gaps.

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Parenting Survival Guide: We Will Do Better Tomorrow

If there ever was a day to be glad that my family isn't the subject of an ongoing documentary that requires cameras to capture the nuances of our day-to-day interactions, it was yesterday.  (And about a five minute segment this morning, but that's neither here nor there.)

Yesterday did not reflect our finer moments.  Not for my children, who couldn't quite get it together in the manners, common courtesy, respect, and keeping things in perspective categories.  And not for me, who failed to perform in the effective discipline, not-blowing-a-gasket, and avoiding catastrophic lines of reasoning categories.

In other words, we were quite excellent together, if you define excellence as letting every minor annoyance simmer and then explode into intense emotional outbursts.  We had tears and/or near-hyperventilation about our lunch menu, our dinner menu, the lack of a dessert menu, television limits, cell phone limits, a game of Parcheesi, and the fact that an annoying sibling had the audacity to be EXISTING AND SITTING ON THE OPPOSITE COUCH IN THE SAME ROOM as the annoyed sibling. 

Gold stars, all around.

While I wish I could tell you that before our heads hit our pillows, we each experienced an epiphany where we saw the errors in our ways, humbly apologized to one another, turned the other cheek, and deferred our preferences for the greater good of the family unit, that's not the case.  Most of us went to bed cranky and peeved.

In fact, bedtime went something like this:

Husband: "The girls are in their rooms.  They're ready for you to say goodnight."

Me (lying in bed underneath my quilt with a magazine and a piece of chocolate, pretending that the world outside doesn't exist, and exhaling a labored and dramatic sigh.)  "Do I have to?"


Me:  "Okay, okay..."  (shuffle down hallway reluctantly)  "Goodnight."

Offspring:  "Night."

Me (shuffle back to my bedroom): "There. Done."

Needless to say, familial warmth was not entirely palpable. 

When my head hit the pillow for real, after the magazine was skimmed, the chocolate was eaten, my teeth were brushed, and the lights were turned off, I admitted that this isn't how I want our home to be.  Home is not a place to lace up your gloves and fight; it's a place to let down your guard.  It's a place where we -- kids and parents alike -- should overlook offenses, and daresay, care about others enough that we try to minimize offenses before they even start.

And that wasn't the case yesterday.  Yesterday was a flop.

But one of my last conscious thoughts before drifting to sleep was that we'll do better tomorrow. 

We'll do better tomorrow.  Even with the ugliness of today, we still care enough to want to improve and move forward.  Even with the crummy attitudes and comments, we still want to get it right.  Even with the apathy of the evening, we still believe that these relationships matter profoundly.

One bad day doesn't ruin it all.  Tomorrow is coming.  We will fight for our family, and that's more powerful than those bad patches when we fight against them just because they've annoyed us by sitting on the adjacent couch.

We'll do better tomorrow.

Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

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When the Season Is Not Cooperating

Friends, it's been hot lately.  Uncomfortably hot.  Hot enough that your strength feels sapped, hot enough that you don't want to linger outside too long, and hot enough that our town's non-air-conditioned elementary schools have bussed the children to nearby air-conditioned middle schools for the past several days so teachers can hold classes more comfortably.

Even more than the heat itself, its placement seems wrong.  It's September, which is when the air should be taking on a hint of crispness.  It shouldn't be in the 90's.  I've mentally moved past summer temperatures, wardrobes, and activities.  I'm ready for a tee shirt, a pair of broken-in jeans, and a cute pair of boots.  I'm ready for football weather.

Clearly, the season is not cooperating.  One Facebook friend said it aptly:
"It is too hot.  I can't even, because it is TOO HOT.  All things rescheduled until it isn't today anymore."
Sometimes this is what you do.  You raise the white flag.  You accept that this day and its heat and humidity is no longer working, and you're no longer functioning.  You give yourself permission to flop around languidly.  You don't cook a large dinner; nobody's that hungry, anyway.  You permit yourself to reschedule things until it isn't today anymore. 

And then you wait, knowing the weather will break.  It always does.

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