Yesterday. Ahhhhh, yesterday. Do you ever look back on your yesterday and think,
Well, that was a &*%#storm.
No? Probably only because your inside your head language is more elevated than my inside my head language. I bet when you look back on your bad yesterday's you think,
My goodness. That could have ended up much lovelier than it did, couldn't it? Oh, bobbins.
Which is really just "nice" for &*%#storm.
Honestly, without hyperbole? Most of the day was pretty standard. There was even the brief high point where I figured out how to make a chicken curry salad that is supposed to make me skinny. (As long as I only eat it, drink water, and exercise three times a day.)
And then we went to Target.
Zuzu has been saving her money and had two dollars to spend in Target's Dollar Spot. She'd been looking forward to it all day and we headed over there as soon as she was out of school. Here's the thing about my lovely, helpful, smart, imaginative Zuzu. Choice is something she takes very seriously. The thought of somehow choosing wrong - of getting the pulled pork when maybe the chicken tenders are better, selecting just one bedtime story when there are hundreds of book covers calling, picking the $2 art kit when the $2 sticker book might have truly been the one path to transcendence - is completely paralyzing for her. So when I told her she could pick something out with her money, I knew what I was signing up for - 25 minutes of debate, fretting and finally, fearful but resolute decision making.
Only, that wasn't what I got.
We were in those three aisles for nearly an hour. Hemming and hawing and worrying. You know, this wasn't a matter of her wanting more than her due. She was happy to stick to what she could afford. It was, rather, a moment of her feeling the fear of a wrong choice and the discontent of a lack of the perfect option.I talked kindly, I gently suggested, I calmly reminded her we needed to leave in just a moment over and over and over again. Until it really was time to leave and she still had not been able to settle on any one item. She cried as we checked out, her sister paying for the $1 treat she had picked within the first two minutes of searching the store. She cried in the parking lot. And she cried on the car ride home. And then she cried in her bedroom. Because,
"You didn't give me enough time! I just need one more last chance! It isn't fair! It was so easy for Viola to choose! Vi is so lucky. I just want to go back! I want to choose again! I'll be faster! MOM! It was just so hard."
I stayed calm in the face of her very real upset and tried to teach through her tears.
"Zuzu, listen. When you're faced with treats you don't like, just keep saving your money for the future. If there are too many things that you like, that's a blessing! Don't feel worried about missing out on the right thing, just pick a good thing and enjoy it! It doesn't become less good because other goodness exists. You can spend your life worried about what you should have done, should have chosen, or you can spend your life engaged in what you're actually doing. And listen, sometimes, your last chance really is your last chance. We get to go back and try this again tomorrow. But that isn't always the case. I need you to learn to have confidence in your ability to choose and your ability to act. You deserve that."
And, as is so often the case, somewhere between the "Zuzu, listen" and dinner that night, I realized that everything I said to my little girl was something I could say to myself.
Don't worry about missing out on the right thing, pick a good thing and enjoy it.
Your choice doesn't become less good because other goodness exists.
Do not worry about what you could have done. Get engaged in what you are actually doing.
There are not limitless chances for our hopes, our dreams, our obligations. Sometimes, opportunities really do run out. But, on those priceless occasions when you are given another shot - take it and run with it and only look back long enough to wave to us from the places you are going.
We each deserve to have the confidence to act.
After dinner, I pulled Zuzu onto my lap.
"You know that lesson you learned today? Mommy is learning it, too. Wanna work on it together?"
She did. So we will.
Choice. It's a concept that is often on my mind. Other thoughts on its role in female life, here.