A few weeks ago, we had one of those rough mornings. The girls complained about getting out of bed, complained about breakfast, complained about their clothes and hair. One complaint after another.
I normally handle these situations pretty well. I’m usually calm, soft and bring a voice of peace.
But pressed for time and low on sleep, I had enough. I raised my voice, forcefully yelling into the hallway.
For a brief moment, there was silence as I continued dressing. And then the sobs. My oldest daughter was beside herself while the younger one meekly walked into my room, lowering lip quivering.
You ever been there? At your limit? Ever throw gas on a fiery situation even though you know better?
On this day, my wife and I were in the same place. And it wasn’t good.
With order somewhat restored, we finally made it out of the house and I got the kids to school, late. As I drove to work, the morning haunted me. I called my wife, who was equally upset. This isn’t the way we parent, and it wasn’t OK.
We decided we’d have a talk with them at dinner. But then I suggested maybe we show up for a surprise lunch with them at their school. My wife agreed that was a great idea.
First I had to make it happen. We had a mandatory event at work that day. So, I emailed my boss and asked him if I could be excused, that I had a family situation that I needed to tend to. His no-questions-asked, three-word response simply read, “Of course, Tom.”
That comes with years of diligent service and trust-building. Was it an emergency? My boss didn’t ask. It was important to me – I’d never asked to be excused before – so it was important to him.
And it was important to me. Very.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and I always say your life isn’t compartmentalized. Getting it right at work and not at home isn’t getting it half right. It’s getting it all wrong.
My wife was waiting in her car as I pulled into the parking lot. We smiled and hugged and walked in together.
The little one’s class single-file marched into the cafeteria first. Her eyes grew big and she sort of folded with excitement when she saw us sitting there. And then she ran to us, arms outstretched. The older one followed with a similar reaction.
We ate together and laughed. The girls beamed with happiness. We all apologized to each other. Is there a better way to teach your children to ask for forgiveness than to demonstrate it?
When lunch was over, we all left lighthearted. A bad morning turned good. What happened through the rest of that workday, I can’t recall. I don’t suppose I will. But I’ll remember the time we decided chalking it up to “a bad day” wasn’t good enough. I hope our girls will remember, too.
Thanks for reading,