"And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love"
- William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience
Sometimes it's hard to win a fight with your brain.
Take, for example, yesterday. Maeve and I made a really cool animal passport for her to keep track of all the animals she sees at the zoo, now that we have a membership and visit every week or so. She had a whole sheet of wild animal stickers which served our purpose perfectly, and we were both really happy with the result.
But then, in a streak of ill luck, I left the passport at home and drove us a third of the way to the zoo before remembering that it was sitting on the kitchen table. And then I made the mistake of telling Maeve I'd forgotten it, and the tears began to flow. So, making a judgement call, I turned the car around and went to get it.
On the way home, though, I just couldn't stop berating myself for forgetting the passport. My brain decided this mistake was obvious evidence of my total unsuitability for parenthood, and my inability to keep track of a few simple things.
Unfortunately, I was running my mouth while having this internal struggle, and Maeve was very unhappy that I was calling myself stupid, a word she is not allowed to use. She advised me to take a deep breath and count backwards for awhile to calm down.
Which was a good strategy to help me calm down, but it made me aware of why I was so angry, which caused me to cry, which I did, for about half of the remaining trip to the zoo, when I finally pulled it together and had a good time.
I post this story, not for my friends to lovingly pat my back and remind me that I am, in fact, not a bad parent or totally incapable, but to remind anyone else having a bad brain day that your job is not a list of things you need to do. Your job is to teach your brain to be kinder, to you and everyone else. And then act on that kindness. As Blake put it, we were put on this earth to learn to bear the beams of love.