Balancing Maturity and Security
I’ve had to treat my life in the last three years like an old Franklin planner. If you don’t know what that is (he said to the twenty-somethings who live online . . . or the thirty and forty-somethings who forgot) it’s a calendar, split out by day. A day-planner, if you will. Siri before you could hit a button and say “remind me to go to the dentist at 7am tomorrow.”
But I digress . . .
My life, my day, my week are planned, somewhat. I always have an idea of the meals I want to make. They don’t always pan out, of course. I may want to make fajitas and end up working late. That was certainly the case on Tuesday night.
I was tasked with field producing the tree-lighting at the state Capitol. Not heavy lifting, but I’d be there at least until 6pm or later. The meal of choice was replaced with my texting the children that “there’s tortellini in the freezer and sauce in the fridge. Make yourselves some pasta and I’ll be home later.”
That was simply met with “gotcha” and no big deal. As the kids get older this gets easier.
However . . . it’s almost easier to have the unexpected, late-night breaking news or news event that requires my work than to pre-plan something. Tomorrow I’m going to be late getting home again. The result is my having prepared the makings for homemade chicken and noodles. That’s in a crock pot and cooking already. The noodles are pre-made and just have to go into the pot and cook. Food, you see is the easiest thing to plan for when I’m going to be late.
Mental security . . . well, that’s a big difference.
While my kids are getting far more self-sufficient I’m seeing the blessings of their increasing maturity. Meals can be created and they won’t starve. If they’re really not interested in pasta they’ll make a sandwich and have something to drink. This isn’t like when I started this task alone, three years ago, after their Mom passed away. Then I had to make sure everything was placed and ready. If I was going to be late I had to find someone to help. (When my oldest daughter was home In ‘N Out was a staple of their meals when I worked late.)
There are still lingering issues that follow us like a specter in the home, though. My children worry, more and more it seems. While one boy has nightmares the middle daughter wants to simultaneously be brooding and hormonal yet maternal and caring. It’s not always a combination that works well. My sons worry that my not being home when they go to bed has them wondering if they’ll wake up and I won’t be home. They never say it but the thought is threading through the fabric of their minds, I can tell.
Still . . . part of that increasing maturity is increasing understanding. They know, as I’ve told them over and over again, that I’ll not put myself in harm’s way. I exercise (and hate it) to be healthier so they can see I’m trying to stick around for them. I don’t do anything dangerous in my job or travel much because I want them to see I’m here for them if they need me.
This is a lesson in tradeoffs. The fact I get to tuck them in most nights is balanced by the fact that I’ll do the occasional tree-lighting production. I may meet an occasional person for drinks or go out after work with colleagues. That’s a necessity for my mental health and security.
Still . . . when I tuck them in they act put-out and say “well I’ll see you in the morning at least.”
I ruffle their hair and sigh.
“No . . . I’ll see you tomorrow night, too. I always come in and tuck you in . . . even if you don’t see it.”
They close their eyes . . . and go to sleep . . . feeling the security of knowing I’ll do just that.