Taking Care

I’ve never been known for being careful.

When I brush August’s hair, I go for quick and efficient, the same as when I brush my own. I have a tough scalp. I brush my teeth with vigor. I don’t close doors quietly. And I tend to spill. Often.

These are things I’d like to change about myself. I want to be someone who notices the possible repercussions of the actions I am about to take. I may be able to sense the goings on in an acquaintance’s unsaid words, but I will never discover (until it’s too late) the terrible choice of letting my spit-uppy baby (the first one) Skype with my parents while leaning over the keyboard. (But that was 3 years ago…I should have learned by now...)

The problem with not owning the common sense to foresee possible disasters is that you essentially make the same mistake over and over. When you’re eighteen and you lose the camera you got for graduation three days after you got it, you disappoint your parents. When you’re in your thirties and your parents give you a GPS for your birthday (just what you’ve hoped for an entire year since your last was stolen and you are going to be so careful and never leave it out in the car again!) but then you drop it in your bag and lean over to get your child out of the carseat and, whoops, the GPS falls out on the streets of San Francisco never to be seen again (How did I react? I cried for a day. Then I hoped no one would ever notice), then you disappoint your parents.

So, would it shock you to hear that in the past week I have twice done something regrettably careless? One involved leaving markers in the living room, after my husband warned me of our child’s 3-year-old tendencies. (I moved the marker that was out, but never once considered the three still in the packaging.) Are you shocked to hear that while I nursed his brother in the other room, August found that green marker and made wide, brilliant streaks across our 5 day old couch cushions?

Do you want to hear more? On Tuesday, after dropping August off at school, Brooksie and I went to a super cool coffee shop to do a little writing during his naptime. He was fussy. So I pulled out the Ergo so he could fall asleep in it and happened to set him in his car seat beside my coffee beside my computer for one minute. (You know where this is going. Do I even have to say it?) Coffee on the laptop. It’s gone…thankfully the hard drive survived.

Did I mention that I want to be aware? I really do. I’ve been making mistakes like this for 32 years. Come on! To try harder you have to first have a warning bell in your brain that says: This is a bad idea! How did I not get one of those?

Last week, after the couch incident and my washing the cushions with my tears, I sat beside my husband on the couch. I said, “I want to be careful. I want to be careful with our things and our kids and our time and our money. I want to be careful!”

I keep thinking of those words, typing this post on my husband’s computer, wondering what it means that I’m not a careful person. I don’t take care. In the past I’ve written those things off, choosing to embrace my carefree! fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants! nature. Sure, it means we have impromptu breakfast dance parties in the kitchen. But it also means I make people feel like the gifts they give me are not valuable. It means I teach my kid to leave toys he cares about outside because I didn’t think to enforce clean-up.

I want my boys to be grateful. I want to be grateful. And I know that means more than feeling that emotion in my heart. I feel grateful a lot. But do I respond in my everyday choices with gratefulness? Do I choose to care?

Forgive the frustration, friends. I’m just a little slow to learn.

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