Monday, June 6, 2016

The Myth Of The Family Meeting

With graduation less than a week away, I've been taking a lot of stock. (And Tylenol, actually; I've been taking a lot of Tylenol.) Eighteen and a half years of parenting behind me. 

For the record, that's the longest I've ever stayed at any job. 

What did I do particularly well? What did I screw up?

Becoming a mother is the greatest act of faith we can undertake. It can also be a huge slap in the face. It rocks our inner vision and is at once a source of great pride and the most humbling experience in the world.

My husband and I were a little late to the game and we had already watched most of our closest friends deal with transitioning from being happy-go-lucky "DINKs" (dual-income, no kids) to sleep-deprived, car-pooling zombies. We weren't ready yet, but we were very self-satisfied. If and when we were ever parents, we assured ourselves, we wouldn't make this or that mistake. We would never raise our voices. Or let our offspring walk all over us. We would do everything perfectly.

As my favorite classics professor Dr. Zarker would have remonstrated, "Hubris, hubris, hubris!"

Raised in the 1960s and 70s, I had a wonderful weekly example of perfect parenting: Carol and Mike Brady. Their six (count 'em, six) children were respectful and remarkably well-groomed. Their house was orderly; their dinners were on time.

And, Mr. and Mrs. Brady never lost their sh*t.

If there was ever an issue in the Brady household, they simply had a family meeting in that tiny little room off the kitchen. Crisis averted.

Last week, I insisted on a family meeting in our house. I was feeling stressed over our packed schedule of school events (white water rafting, graduation rehearsal, awards banquet and the big day itself), out of town visitors, horse shows, theatre tickets, work deadlines, business trips, and more. And, yes, I was ready to lose my sh*t.

Lest you think I'm just an anxious person (I am, but that's beside the point), let me give you a couple of examples ...

So far, I'd rescheduled my daughter's tuberculosis test three times. (No, she doesn't have tuberculosis. Well, I assume she doesn't have tuberculosis. But, she has to have the test for college.) I can practically hear the receptionist cringing every time I call the doctor's office.

Apparently, my daughter needs polypropylene long underwear for the rafting trip. This is not something I had on hand (or had time to run to the mall for), so we ended up using my sister-in-law's Amazon Prime account to get it here in two days.

We gave my husband a flying lesson for his recent birthday. But, finding a day when all three of us can take a few hours to drive up to New Hampshire and watch him fly a Cessna 172, take pictures (or, in my case, pray) was anything but clear skies.

Add to all this year-end activity the arrangements we still need to make to actually transport our little freshman and all her gear to her out-of-state university, and I think you can appreciate why I'm having trouble sleeping.

So, we had a family meeting, but it wasn't as peaceful or productive as the Bradys'. It required more than a little bullying on my part — before, during and after. We walked through the next nine weeks and took notes. I gave out some assignments (and ignored the eye-rolling). 

And, for a full five minutes after the meeting, I actually felt better. Even if things still slip through the cracks — and they will — I can smugly say, "See? That's why I wanted to have a family meeting."

At this point, I'll take what I can get.

Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Brady.
If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.  


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