Sometimes I wish, our friend says, lowering his voice and leaning toward my husband and me as we share breakfast at a local cafe, that my mom would remember that we’re the parents now.
I nod, my silence carving out room for him to say more. Soon enough, he does:
Our kids really do best on a schedule, and Shelly’s got it all dialed in. So when Mom babysits, Shelly goes over the list with her: lunch time, snack time, bath time, the whole shot. Mom listens and nods, and then when we leave, she just does whatever.
He takes a deep breath, blows it out slowly. I bestow another silent nod. I wait.
I don’t think she knows how hard she’s making it. She adores our children–they’re the only grandchildren she’s ever going to have–but it takes us two or three days to get back in our groove after she babysits. Shelly loves my folks, but she’s ready to ban Mom from babysitting. I don’t want to restrict my parents’ access to the kids, but two or three days of chaos is a high price to pay for some quality time with Grams.
I nod. I wait.
The other thing? I want to keep this about the kids. I mean, we all know that Shelly is my first priority now, but sometimes it seems like Mom is trying to force me to choose. . . .
Our friend stares out the window. We’re near the beach; a golden kid pedals by on his bicycle, surfboard tucked under one arm. An SUV totes two plastic kayaks on its backs, one red, one yellow.
So here’s the thing, Rich says, and his voice shocks me.
Why doesn’t he understand? I’m conducting research here. It’s for my project.
I paste a smile on my face, but it’s that smile that says would you please just.shut.up.
Talk to your mom, Rich continues, as I throw imaginary knives at his throat, but never mention your wife. Just make it all about the kids.
I want to jump in. I want to say you know, you could explain that T can’t concentrate at school on Monday.
But these two men? These two fathers-who-are-husbands-and-who-are-sons?
They don’t need me. Not now.
Our friend shrugs.
Try the bacon? Rich says. It’s really good.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
may she who gave you birth be joyful!
Proverb 23:22-25 (NIV)
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