“The Navigator, it was the Navigator.”
The look on Daniel face was priceless as he asked,
“Mom, what are you talking about?”
“Son, I am answering your question. Remember, you asked me about a movie title a few days ago. Well, I just finally remembered the title. It was The Navigator.”
He shook his head as he tried to remain calm. He looked at me and said,
“Holy cow, mom, that was 2 weeks ago.”
“Yeah, maybe it was, or maybe it wasn’t, all I know is that is has taken me that long to remember it. I am not as young as I use to be. Sometimes it takes a bit to recall things like that. Just wait until you have kids and a few years under your belt. You’ll know exactly what I am talking about.”
Daniel looked at Mariah, rolled his eyes and mouthed something to effect that I was losing it.
It was a hot summer day, back in 2000. Mariah, Daniel and I were at a local swimming hole trying to stay cool. We were enjoying our swim, when the title popped into my mind. I knew if I did not blurt it out it would be gone as quickly as it came. Looking back my outburst must have looked more like a seizure then a memory reboot.
As I sat in the water, trying to cool off, and not lash out at my son for what I thought was an insensitive remark, I remembered. I remembered a time when, like Daniel, I rolled my eyes at my dad. It was a time I never forgot.
Jessica, my oldest daughter, was 7 at that time, and Daniel was a baby. I was sure I knew everything there was to know about being a mom. In fact, I was so confident in my skills I was gloating to my dad about what a good parent I was. Dad just sat there listening as I shared my wealth of wisdom and responded with a simple question followed by a statement.
“You do know parenting is not an exact science, right?”
I looked at him and shook my head yes. Though to be honest I thought dad was clueless.
Oh, to be 26 again and confident that I know all there is to know about life and parenting! He went on to say,
“Remember these words, just when you think you have all the answers you could possibly need in life, and with your parenting skills, life changes. Beware, you will feel like you are starting all over again, and I guarantee frustration will set in. Are you listening to me?”
I shook my head yes, but to be honest I had already checked out. I looked at dad and simply said those famous last words all young clueless parents say,
“Maybe you and mom did not know what you were doing but I am more informed. I will be a better parent because I know what I am doing.”
Dad smiled, shrugged his shoulders and responded with,
“I guess we will see, won’t we.”
Over the next 10 years, or so, I came to the conclusion that dad was right. In time I had to acknowledge the fact that there were many days where I had no idea what I was doing. Many days when I had to acknowledge my failures as a parent and as a human being, and embrace the fact that I did not know it all.
I had to face the fact that the critical view I had of my parents was unjust. Eventually I began to learn that anytime I am quick to criticize others, in whatever area of their lives I feel superior in, I am exposing myself to judgement.
Isn’t it amazing how the very things we criticize our parents for doing are many of the same things we repeat? For those of you who are parents, you know what I am talking about. Those are the kind of parents who unknowingly repeat the past.
Once I acknowledged I did not know everything about parenting, and it took my third child to figure that one out, I actually became a good parent.
In the last few years I have thought many times that I wish I could go back in time. I wish I had the wisdom I have today for back then. If I did maybe I would have done a better job of being a mom. Though I know rationally I cannot go back in time, the wishing I could, helps keep me grounded and humble today.
Do I still have memory lapses? Yes I do, but only when ducks are flying north for the winter. Wait, is it north or south?