They'll Show Up
It's Friday morning. 7:21 am. I'm laying in bed not wanting to get up. The house is so hot and I'm sweating from a terrible night's sleep of tossing and turning and just not ever being able to relax no matter how many different kinds of breathing methods I tried. And I hear footsteps come running up the stairs. The door is thrown open and a little 7 year old girl named Lia jumps in the bed, puts her nose right up to mine and says, "You're the best dad ever, how can I help you this morning?"
A little back story. This time in the Solar household has been hard on everyone. Still adjusting to two kids with cystic fibrosis and what that means. Jenny working through trauma. Me trying to just get through the days without any anxiety attacks. But I think it's been hardest on our little Lia. She's the youngest. And she's a feeler. She's extremely passionate on both ends. That means she picks up on all the negativity and heaviness running through our house and has crazy attitude turns. She's either a 1 or a 10, no in betweens. She's either positive and loving and kind or screaming and hitting. It's been rough for everyone.
Tuesday morning, I took Jenny to the airport. She was heading to Click Away for 5 days. We got in a big fight. It led me to write this post on being punched in the nuts repeatedly. First off, any time I'm solo parenting for an extended period of time, I gain more respect for single parents. This stuff is not for the faint of heart. Making healthy school lunches, homeschooling Max and keeping him on task, running two businesses, handling baseball games and photo shoots mixed in, making healthy dinners...all while trying to find moments to actually get down and play with my kids without any distractions. This stuff has been my life for the past few days. I don't know how people do this for years on end. Much respect to them.
Ok, I got off topic a bit. Thursday night I took Max to his baseball game. This kid used to love playing baseball. I'm talking LOVE baseball. He picked up everything while watching Royals and Dodgers games with his grandpa. He paid attention to where you throw the ball in what situations. We played catch every day. I pitched to him well before he should've been hitting balls pitched to him. He LOVED it. He was darn good. And then he got sick. For 2 years, he had no energy. He tried to play baseball and had a rough year, struck out a lot and lost any confidence. But now that we have the CF diagnosis and proper treatments he's got his energy back. He's able to be a kid again. So we signed him up for fall baseball. He said he didn't want to play but we thought if he just went out there and played again and saw he could do it he'd fall back in love with the game again. We were wrong.
I took him to his game on Thursday night. He missed a ground ball, he struck out once. He wasn't even trying and he knew it. No one said anything to him at all. Then he refused to go back on the field. He left the dugout, sat in the grass with his head in his hands crying. He yelled at me he wasn't having fun...he never wanted to play baseball again and that I couldn't make him play. Now, on one hand, I'm exhausted from solo dadding. We signed him up to play, yes. He's on a team, and his team needs him. And sometimes in life we have to do things that aren't fun. That's how life works. If everything you did was fun and a great time and rainbows and unicorns and you had no struggles, you'd never have a true appreciation for the good stuff. On the other hand, I want my kids to know what feels right and good to them, and have the resolve to stand for what they believe in. Right now it's not wanting to play baseball for Max, but later in life it might be something else. Something bigger. And I want my son to have the strength to stand up for himself. I don't want to be embarrassed while he's doing it or feel shamed, though. I was put in a no win situation, my wife wasn't here to help, and I didn't handle it very well. I said some things to him I regret. I threw his glove at him... that's not the dad I want to be.
And then, Lia, our crazy, spitfire of a girl, says "Dad, you need to take some deep breaths, like you always tell me to do when I've lost control." And she was right. I did need to take some deep breaths. So I did, and I calmed down, and we all had a really good conversation about life, how it doesn't always include the word fun in it and how sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do. I asked for forgiveness from all my kids. I let them know I've been under a tremendous amount of pressure in all areas of my life and it's really, really hard for me to keep it together sometimes. Luckily, kids have big hearts and know how to forgive easily and move on, because I messed up big time, and they didn't do the whole thing adults do where we hold onto painful things even though the person that caused the painful thing genuinely apologized. Kids are pretty amazing like that.
So the kids forgave me, but I didn't forgive myself. I tried to get a hold of Jenny, but couldn't. I was alone, beating myself up, and eating the carp that we had in the house. That bag of crinkle cut sea salt potato chips didn't stand a chance. And I didn't sleep well. I'm really good at helping others move on and see how loved they really are. I've got a talent for showing others how they really are doing the best they can, and that they're _______ enough. But I really suck at giving myself that same grace. I know this, yet I continue to not get better at just letting go.
And that's where I found myself on Friday morning at 7:21 am when Lia crawled into my bed, excited to help. And help she did. She made lunches. She packed snacks. She even cleaned the dog's food and water bowl, and didn't scream when we found all the gnats living under the water bowl (so gross). She cleaned the bathroom. She was bound and determined to be helpful and cheerful and positive. She even wanted to have a dance party, so we did.
And that's the point of this whole long and rambly post. We can mess up. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We can beat ourselves up and strive for perfection. We can apologize to those we hurt. We can beat ourselves up some more. We can stay up way too late, hello 2 am, and put crap in our body we know doesn't make us feel good. We can keep tormenting ourselves. We can wake up physically and mentally drained and wanting to hide under covers all day. We can do all those things and still, the Universe, God, Buddha, whatever label you put on it will still be there to love you.
They'll show up as a kid ready and willing to help with a smile on their face. They'll show up in the form of a friend ready to listen and not judge. They'll show up as a random blog post someone has shared that's filled with words you need to hear. They'll show up in deep breaths if you decide to take them. They'll show up in a song from a singer you like that just happened to release an album that day. They'll come with all kind of messages...
You're not perfect, but you're still loved.
You'll make mistakes, but you're still loved.
You'll sometimes fail, but you're still loved.
You'll lose your temper, but you're still loved.
You'll want to hide, but you're still loved.
You'll say the wrong things and hurt those you love, but you're still loved.
You'll want to run, but you're still loved.
You are loved, forever and ever loved and nothing you can ever do or say can make that love go away.
They'll show up...