“Bye-bye dirt!” This was my daughter’s mantra as she helped me clean the bathrooms the other day.
My mantra a few hours prior had been, “Bye-bye schedule!”
I’d like to tell you that the day was an unusual one where things did not going as planned, but our days rarely go as planned. So much about parenting is making plans and then planning to make new ones.
But when one of your kids wakes up with a fever and can’t go to school and you are already trying to equip one kid—who gets carsick—for a two hour bus ride for a school field trip, desperately trying to balance demanding work schedules, and maintain a kind of smooth running house while preparing to travel for a week, the day feels lost when something unexpected happens.
To our credit, my partner and I figured out the best way to split the day at home with our sick kid without too much bickering or snide comments born from exhaustion and frustration.
Turns out Ryan, once the Tylenol kicked in, was fine. She was definitely fighting something, but her spirits were up and she loved the one on one attention.
We worked on perler beads, AKA those things that you put on a pattern, iron, and then throw into a box of finished perler bead projects that never see the light of day until they are moved to the trash. We read books. We colored.
And because I can’t let go of the to-do list, we cleaned the bathrooms. I wasn’t planning on cleaning them that day, but they need to get cleaned this week, so I made adjustments.
I would have been happy if my daughter watched Netflix while I cleaned, but she wanted to help. She felt important wearing my rubber gloves. She felt needed when she used the washcloth to dry the sink and tub after I cleaned it. She loved being with me. And I loved being with her.
Ryan has a way of making me change the way I think and the way I do things. She has taught me that life is bigger than lists, schedules, and assignments. From her gender identity to the fever that kept her home on Tuesday, Ryan has a way of knowing exactly who she is and what she needs.
It is my job as a parent to stop, let go of my expectations or plans, and honor what my children need. It’s not always easy—it’s usually pretty difficult—but it’s necessary. And worth it.
The day turned out much different than I had anticipated, but it was still a pretty good day.
Ryan, too, turned out much different than I had anticipated, but she is still pretty amazing.
My transgender daughter is the best deviation from a plan I have ever experienced.
This post was originally published on Family Rhetoric by Amber Leventry on November 16, 2017.