Monday was just one of those days – as in, just another manic Monday, the best of times and the worst of times (and on and on the phrases go). Because, as it turned out, that night happened to house the ultimate intersection of complete competency and ultimate powerlessness.
On the one hand, 647 miles away, at the American Legion Hall in Beaverton, Oregon, a dinner for 95 of the Navy’s Wounded Warriors training at Nike Headquarters for the week was happening:
I bring it up because it was a family affair: my parents smoked all the ribs on their backyard Traeger (and lined up various volunteer cooks and food donations), my sister rallied the troops the night of and solicited volunteers for the event, my nephew practiced cuteness, and my brother-in-law dominated as one of the athletes:
And from what I’ve heard, it was a pretty flawless evening of home-cooked southern BBQ, Oregon-style …with smiles all around:
My contribution to the night came in organizing the event – because for me, this was something I could actually do from hundreds of miles away. Just as my parents are really, really good at smoking ribs for nearly a hundred in their backyard, I’m really, really good at thinking through and organizing the details of an event. It’s not a point of hubris, it’s just something I learned to do as a teacher and a non-profit director. So together, we each worked in our giftedness and pulled off a fantastic night …even if I wasn’t able to be there because Baby Boy is expected to hatch within the next couple of weeks.
I say this because this event was an example of competency. This was me doing what I do, with Mom and Dad and Sister and the American Legion and the warriors and coaches and all the other varied pieces of the puzzle doing what they do, each falling together as they should. But as I think so often happens in life, this competency was juxtaposed next to powerlessness. Because in our little slice of Bay Area pie, something like this was happening…
Screaming, temper-tantruming, “What happened to my sweet and precious baby?!” child:
Meets the wide, wide world of Target:
Meets Toddler’s newfound ability to crawl out of grocery carts and begin his Olympic training practice (with a coach who can’t keep up, mind you):
To call the hellacious trip to the store memorable would be an understatement; to instead call the 13.5 minute visit to Target THE WORST TRIP TO THE STORE IN THE HISTORY OF SHOPPING EVENTS would be a little closer to the truth. Because after three cycles of scream – climb out of cart – climb under cart – roll to the ground – run like a banshee fifty feet ahead of waddling mama – finally be captured and placed back in cart …repeat, both Mama and Cancan were in tears. All I wanted was a canister of oatmeal. All he wanted was his hard-earned freedom. And together that meant we were not seeing eye to eye.
Little old ladies stopped us in the aisles, attempting their best grandma-magic solutions.
Teenagers absentmindedly glanced up from their phones to witness the real-life, non-Facebook commotion happening right in front of them.
Other young parents nodded sympathetically, in an I’m with you sort of way.
All other shoppers quickly got the hell out of our way.
By the time we got to the queue of registers, with Cancan in arms, shrieking, refusing the cart all together, my uterus was fighting Braxton Hicks contractions and my eyes frustrated pregnancy tears. Finally, we got in line, behind another mama who took one look at us, and in broken English said to me, “Go ahead of us, please.”
I could only nod my head in thanks. It was the least I could do to not burst into tears right there, sobbing in line at the red and white, feeling completely incompetent as a mother in every sense of the word. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you, my mind whispered, hoping she subliminally caught my words of thankfulness.
By the time the HBH (Hot Black Husband) got home, I was done (and Cancan, meanwhile was suddenly in an angelically perfect mood). And that’s when it hit me: this is life. This is the intersection we each deal with on a daily basis, because it’s where messy and beautiful meet. It’s where we feel completely on top of the world one minute, and positively powerless the next.
And it’s okay.
Because it’s normal and real and hard and good, all at the same time. It humbles us and it provides solidarity with those around us, because we realize we’re not alone. But each one of us – each messy, imperfect human being is in this beautiful world and thing called LIFE together.
Glancing heavenward, I utter another subliminal thank you, thank you, thank you and beg for another day to rally and try all over again.
Because this is what we do.
In this with you, c.
What about you? Where and how have the intersection of competency and powerlessness met in your life? Share a story ..and/or feel free to offer your babysitting services to parents of young children around the world STAT.
Also, the Wounded Warrior Project is a fantastic organization; to make a donation and help those who have been wounded in action, click here.0