The top five highlights of my Saturday through Monday:
-We began the weekend by having a serious discussion about money/the budget. Every couple knows that's a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
-We ended the weekend by having a serious discussion about buying vs. renting. No final decisions were made, which always makes you feel good after an entire weekend spent having a discussion.
-I got jalapeno juice in my eye which caused a long-lasting burning sensation in the eye and surrounding skin, about the size you'd expect if someone gave you a black eye.
-Abigail dumped over several gallons of water in her bedroom while she was supposed to be napping. Gallons. She soaked the rug, a bunch of moving boxes that I was storing under her crib, most of her stuffed animals, and a few electronic toddler things. She's currently locked out of her room as I have three fans going trying to dry everything, and being locked out, of course, pisses her off.
-The vomiting returned, at the grocery store, no less. Cause nothing says "efficient grocery shopping trip on a busy day" like stopping in every aisle to sop up vomit with a travel size package of tissues.
I'm whipping out all the tricks: thanking God for my blessings, silently counting to 10, praying, going for a walk, eating an entire package of cookies in a day. I usually manage to pull myself together just in time to meet another stressor. But throughout the last few days, apologies were made when needed, family prayers were said daily, and kisses, hugs, and "I love yous" concluded each stressful day. I may have had epic failures in every other department, but at least all my relationship bank accounts ended with more money than they started.
And that, I think, is the Ultimate Parenting Strategy. And relationship strategy in general.
Admitting when we're wrong, when we screwed up, and saying sorry. Like when you realize mid-heated discussion that you're wrong. Or that what you're accusing your husband of, you're guilty of doing. Or when you're yelling at your child, and her little lower lip puffs out, her forehead crinkles, and the tears start to fall. Nothing burns more than stepping down, as the adrenaline is pumping, quieting your voice, making eye contact and saying, "I'm sorry."
We all want to be perfect. I want to be this eternally patient and loving mother with firm-but-gentle discipline. I want Abigail to want to please me because I am so fair and loving, and with just a "look," she corrects her ways. I never want to admit that part of me wanted Abigail to cry because I wanted her to feel bad about what she'd just done. I hate that part of being perfect is recovering gracefully from mistakes because I'm terrible at recovering gracefully from mistakes.
So I think the Ultimate Parenting/Relationship strategy is doing what you think is best, but when you realize that it wasn't, apologize.
This strategy isn't all rainbows and unicorns, though. It's really damn hard to apologize and it you don't always know if it works. Sometimes you apologize to a random person on the street, but they still yell at you for your mistake. Sometimes you apologize, but the lasting consequences of said mistake don't disappear - like if you punch someone, but apologize, the sting of the punch still remains.
I didn't learn that lesson over the weekend, like some perfect Saint, completely stressed out, but still able to humbly right all wrongs. I didn't learn it until I sat down here at the computer and refused to publish a blog post that was purely complaints. I had to find a way to turn it around, to spin it in a positive direction. I guess the second lesson I learned is that necessity is the mother of all invention.