Monday, June 21, 2010

Glass Breaks

It’s summer time and the dishwasher is running almost non-stop so I asked my youngest son to empty a load for me while I finished working on a writing project. Mid sentence the familiar sound of breaking glass assaulted my ears. Without rising from my chair I called out, “Did something break?”

A momentary pause. “Uh… no.”

“But I just heard it.”

Another pause. “Well, maybe. I’m not sure.”

“How can you not be sure. Did something break or did it not?”

Long sigh. “Sort of I guess.”

“Just make sure you sweep it up before someone walks in with bare feet and looses a foot.”

It was just a glass, so I don’t know why he was so worried. He’s broken things much more valuable in the past and still lives to tell the tale. But I guess we all have a hard time when something we value gets broken.

But that’s how life is. Things break, cars get dents, carpets get stained and people screw up. And you know what? It’s not the end of the world.

When my husband and I were first married, I remember spilling a glass of milk. It ran across our new tablecloth and dripped down the front of my husband’s dress pants. He was furious and I felt terrible. That was back in the day when we believed that if we were really careful all our stuff would stay nice and new forever. Then we had kids.

It’s amazing how children change your whole perspective on the world and teach you what is really important. We use to refer to our son as the human fire-hose. That kid could spit-up a stream of half digested breast milk and hit his father five feet away. For months we couldn’t get that lingering odor of sour milk out of our house. The carpet, walls and even our clothing were soaked with it.

But now that same son has just become engaged. He’s about ready to start a new life with a darling girl and he just bought his first car. Yesterday someone left a jacket on the top of his trunk and you’d have thought that life as we know it was ending. I just smiled. He has no idea what’s coming.

Sunday was Fathers day and it was my husband’s turned to get guilted out at church. I think it’s only fair after what they put women through on Mother’s Day. And sure enough, he was guilted out, although he did get to bring home two giant chocolate chip cookies afterwards.

“Sometimes I feel like I haven’t been a very good father,” he said later in the day. “There are so many things I could have done and didn’t. So many things I should be doing now and don’t.”

I know the feeling. As I said, Mother’s Day was just a month ago.

“Glass breaks,” I said.

He turned and looked at me with some confusion.

“Do you ever remember throwing out a set of glasses or mugs because we bought a new set and they didn’t match?” I asked.


“That’s because we never did. You don’t throw away glasses. They break, every single last one. That’s how it works. And you don’t cry or mourn or even worry. You toss the shattered pieces, and you buy something new and start over.”

“And this applies how?” he asked. My husband often doubts the true depth of my wisdom.

“We all mess up. Glasses get broken, harsh words get said, misjudgments are made, and time is wasted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start over. Our parents weren’t perfect moms and dads, we aren’t perfect and our kids won’t be perfect parents – but that’s okay. We don’t need to be perfect. We just need to keep trying.”

He smiled at me and I think he felt better, and he should. My husband is a good man. He loves his children, worries about them, and is always there when they need him.

Talking to my husband got me to thinking about my own father.

A lot of my cousins have lost their fathers over the last few years, and I feel lucky to still have my dad in my life. He’s been married to my mother for over fifty years. During those years he has been a hard worker and a good provider. I never knew a moment of fear or need growing up under his roof. As an adult I find that I have many habits and traits that I picked up from him. Many of the values I most treasure and the beliefs that have guided my life were instilled in me by the lifelong example of the man who loved and raised me. I’m sure he wasn’t always perfect but it’s funny how I can’t really remember anything but the good.

And as an imperfect mother myself… this gives me hope.

Happy Fathers Day to the two most important men in my life… my father and my husband.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much! Last Sunday I learned how to be a perfect father. Easy, have perfect children. As Vicki look around we have come to realize we do have perfect children. How we got them I'm not sure we did. Thanks, DaD

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