From infancy on, my parents instinctively did what most parents do: teach kids to do for themselves. First it was holding a spoon so I could eat when hungry (or so they didn’t have to play airplane with the smashed green beans and open their mouths wide to prompt me to do the same). Then it progressed to walking, talking and potty training.
As a parent, I can fully appreciate the job my parents did. I’m a bit neurotic, paranoid and germ-phobic, but in spite of this, I think they did pretty well (considering what they had to work with). I can empathize with the struggles they must have had, because I struggle too. My parental urge is to “make it all better,” but my sensible side warns, “they need to feel the pain; they need to learn.”
Earlier this week, my husband called me during my morning commute to work.
Hubby: “Is <older son’s> backpack in your car?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Hubby: “Can you check?”
Me: “I’m on the freeway. Hold on. I’ll see if I can feel it.” (It was still dark and people brake for no reason, so I wasn’t taking my eyes off the road.)
Me: “Yep, it’s here.”
Hubby: “Where are you?”
Me: “Almost to work.” (Which meant I was thirty miles away from home)
Hubby: “Great.” (Laced with sarcasm)
Me: “Well, he needs to keep track of his stuff. He’ll have to find something else to use.”
For a split-second, I considered driving back home to take my son his backpack. But “making it better” and saving the day would deprive him of a valuable learning experience. He needed to know what accountability and consequences feel like. (He got a taste of it when he lost his wallet and all of his Christmas money, but apparently he was due for a refresher.)
This got me thinking about the whole “responsibility” thing. I’ve heard comments from adults lamenting the torture of responsibility. How did responsibility get a bad rap, anyway? Sure, some aspects of responsibility aren’t glamorous, like paying bills, making tough life decisions or going to work every day, but it has a beautiful side, too.
Responsibility creates an environment where we have an opportunity to manage our finances, so we can own a house, plan retirement savings, start college funds, plan vacations or schedule household projects. Responsibility is the workhorse that is at the core of our family. It does much of the work, gets very little credit and takes the blame when life isn’t the carefree existence we imagine it should be.
Responsibility allows me to handle the mundane necessities of life and leaves me (barely) enough time to chase dreams by writing blog posts, poems, short stories and novels. My words have the potential to make a reader laugh, or cry (in a good way, I hope), or even prompt them into action when they think, “ick, I can do better than that.” My words can be used to encourage others or strip them of hope – it is my responsibility to choose.
Responsibility is an ugly-beautiful package and I embrace it as such; just like I do my equally imperfect self (and neighbors). Thank you for reading this post. It is but one sliver of a larger dream and it was brought to you by the letter “R.” Yay, responsibility! Why am I the only one cheering?
By the way, my son was the only kid walking home with his school work in a plastic grocery bag. I bet he keeps better track of his back pack in the future. Well, maybe for the next few weeks at least.
Tell me, do you see the “beauty” or the “beast” in responsibility?