It’s funny the things that parents will do for their children: I have no shortage of examples in which I have found myself saying, doing or making something that, eight years ago, I never would have imagined. We perform these feats of equal parts strength and embarrassment out of the purest form of love, and there’s rarely any question in our minds of whether or not we should do them, but instead a question sometimes of how we do them (which should not suggest that we don’t also get frustrated by whatever the situation may be). There is no doubt that we parents are silent heroes, deserving of a cape and moniker suited to the greater than life abilities we gained the very moment these little beings were born, though we should certainly know better than to allow our children to define whatever that alter-ego persona should be.
Case in point: before kids, eating someone else’s plate scraps seemed a bit, well, gross. Now, though: I would sooner eat a plate of cold mushy peas drowning in ketchup, devour a few scraps of soggy toast, or choke down the last few bites of the cheddar cheese, black pepper and raspberry jam sandwich they concocted, than see any of it go in the bin. Partially chewed chicken fingers? No problem. Cold soup? Easy. Questionable glass of milk sitting out on the counter? Please, I’ve conquered worse. For whatever illogical reasoning that’s happening within our brains, any parent I’ve ever consulted seems to posses the same super-human capacity for stomaching anything their kids leave behind. Food costs are real, after all, and that half-eaten $12 grilled cheese sandwich is not going to waste.
Of all the things we do for our littles, be it the countless laps around the house to find the other sock, forgotten water bottle or preferred bed-time story. Or the never-ending search through tears for lost hair-clips, mittens, polly pocket accessories (damn those minuscule headaches designed for parenting failure), and “You know: that thing, daddy, from the toy we got last year that looks like it was a moon pool that had glitter on the side but was also like a worm with two different shaped hands.” Yes, we seem to be able to draw energy we didn’t know had and commit ourselves to deciphering the illegible or finding the impossible, but none of that compares to the commitment we seem to have for not letting food go to waste and finishing whatever is left on their plate, found in their lunchbox, or dropped on the ground.
Our kids know it too. During our post-dinner cleanup the other night, Nora was finishing off a few remaining apple slices from Audrey’s plate, when Alison happened to mention: “You’re going to be a great mom one day, Nora. Do you know why?” to which our daughter replied “Because I’m a dumpster like you!”. Now, let me be clear here that I am not a complete fool and I did seek a thumbs up from my better half before starting in on writing this post. See, the comment wasn’t said with insult, but rather ambition and pride for the qualities our oldest daughter has already inherited from her parents; Daddy after all, is a “trash man” for all the same reasons.
We should all be proud, and perhaps commended, for the powers we conjure up for the ‘well-being’ of our children, no matter how preposterous it may seem in the moment. We could be laid out sick with the flu, running a fever and barely able to hold our head up, yet we still somehow manage to find the energy to put on a tiara and join in on a tea party. We will search the ends of the earth for the perfect accessories to complete their Chewbacca Halloween costume. We will wake up at awful hours of night to refill a water bottle, untangle a blankie, turn off a light, turn on a light, turn down a light, move a light, hide a light, add a light, or change a light. This is not to say that I just give in to all our kids wants, demands and wishes. No, no, that’s not how we parent. Instead what I would say is that, through all of these challenges, I am proud to have developed the remarkable ability to weigh out the pros and cons of any decision at seemingly impossible speeds: “If I respond to this request, or take this action now, then it’s going to result in ‘Y’, and not doing so is going to result in ‘X’ later, which will mean either I don’t get to do ‘Z’ when I want to, or I’ll be up and down the stairs ‘Z to the power of 46’ over the course of the next 20-minutes, so it is more efficient and far wiser for me to go with option ‘=vlookup(dadsexperiencesheet23!A:C,A4,3,false)’. Yes, win for Dad!”
Yep, we are super heroes in our own right, saving stuffies at every turn, teaching ourselves to sew the impossible, balance the unmanageable, and belly-laugh at their knock-knock jokes. I never knew such strength and power could exist, and it flows through me directly because of them. They gave me these powers and these skills. Without them, I don’t know that I ever would have published a book, rediscovered snow forts and pillow forts, built up my immunity and stomach strength, or learned the guitar chords to not one, but two Frozen soundtracks! I am grateful for the powers they’ve given me, and can’t wait to level-up for our next great adventure. Collectively we are The Beandricks Family, and there’s nothing stronger to me than that.
*Photo was taken by Andrew Goodwin Photography, circa 2013 as part of our wedding invitations/save the date cards. That’s how we rolled back then and we continue to own it today.