One of the greatest benefits of entrepreneurship is the feeling of being completely in charge of your own destiny. You get to make the decisions. You are responsible for your business’ success. This feeling is great, as long as things go according to plan. But when have things ever gone according to plan? Employees might get stuck in traffic, or not show. Suppliers might go out of business leaving you scrambling to find an alternate. Customers might decide at the last minute that they would be better of going with the competition. Then, being in charge is stressful. It is up to you to make sure your company does what it promises it will do, delivers what and when it says it will.
For that reason, I was okay when the hubby announced he was going to have to work late, hoping to close a deal more than two years in the making. We are a team. I would solo parent for the evening so that he could do what he had to do. It was no problem. Except for one thing. I had completely forgotten about it, and was then utterly mentally unprepared.
I collected the boys as I typically do. 6 has recently discovered Pixar’s Wall-E and decided that the balance of the car ride home was the perfect opportunity to hone his robot impression. He’s pretty good, but I feel he really nailed it on the second try. He certainly didn’t need the twenty something follow-up attempts. Why mess with perfection?
When I arrived at day care to pick up 3 (yes, 3 – we are finally out of the terrible twos!), I was informed that my son hadn’t been feeling like his chipper self that day. He was complaining of a tummy ache. My gut clenched up. I have a number of meetings with visitors in my office this week. Of course he would be coming down with something.
I saw the empty spot where my husband parks. Oh no. That was tonight?! Suddenly I felt very much alone.
6 decided he didn’t feel like bringing in his school things. 3 didn’t feel like eating. 6 insisted on playing with a loud helicopter toy next to the phone while I attempted to talk to their dad. 3 didn’t want to go upstairs for his bath, wear the pajamas I had picked out, or pretty much anything at all that he hadn’t first instigated (oh that’s right… we are in the trying threes).
The next morning, the hubby needed to sleep in. He hadn’t gotten home until well into the morning hours. I was going to be on my own… again. I rushed around the house trying to get both boys ready as quietly, but as quickly as possible. We are going to miss the bus! ¡Ándale! Mach Schnell! (English wasn’t getting through to my boys – I had to mix it up). Ugh, I thought, no time to pack a lunch for myself. I was going to be late. What a way to start my day…
As I frantically herded them through the door, 6 asked me, ‘Mom? Why are you so mad?’
The question stopped me in my tracks. Was I stressed? Absolutely. Did I need to be? Absolutely not. If I would have stopped focusing on all the reasons I should be stressed I might have noticed that 6 had helped pack his bag that morning. 3 had willingly worn everything I brought him and had tip-toed so as not to wake daddy. Both had helped put their dishes in the machine after breakfast. They were pitching in as they were able. They reminded me that while I might be the only parent awake, I wasn’t alone. We were in this together.
So what if I was a few minutes late, or didn’t have a packed lunch? We’d somehow survive, but I might never get this moment back.
The past and the future can be equally blinding. When you fixate on either, you risk failing to see what you need to do in the present. I stopped. I took a breath. I told my boys I wasn’t mad along with a thank you. They might think I was thanking them for their help, but I was really thanking them for the reminder to be mindful of the present. When I told them I loved them, they smiled and hugged me back. For that moment, it was enough.