NOTE: For the next 10 days or so, I am visiting Captain America back home in the good ole’ USA. He suddenly finds himself a full-time single parent to three young kids…two of whom have high-functioning autism like PanKwake. So I will be re-visiting things I have written in the past. I hope you enjoy them as much as I and others have. This one is from December 2014:
Many, many, many moons ago when I was married to the preacher, there was a men’s movement called Promise Keepers. They were committed to restoring the dignity of the role of husband/father/men. Despite its Christian roots, a laudable goal. But this week has taught me…we should all be Promise Keepers.
Then again, this revelation is not an ah-ha moment. It has been building over time. In large part because of my children. As a parent, we have a tendency to make promises all the time. I know with my older children that was certainly true. “We’ll go to the park/pool/etc.” Then the phone rings and your friend needs to talk. Or you see one more thing in the house that absolutely positively must be done. Or a million other excuses.
Time slips away and you never get around to it. When they start to whine, we make excuses and just expect them to accept it, complaining and perhaps even punishing them if they do not. I am not being judgmental. I did it all the time with my older children.
I do not have that luxury with my youngest. Because of her autism, every broken promise becomes a major meltdown. This was why I found myself walking home from her music therapy this week…in the freezing rain.
She hates crowded buses. We had no choice but to take one to get to our appointment but I promised we would walk home. At the time, it was relatively sunny and not too cold. Of course, by the time that we were done as British weather can, it had changed. It was drizzling rain and a good ten degrees cooler. I begged and pleaded to take the bus, but she reminded me of my promise…so we drudged on.
This week I also had the opportunity of fulfilling an old promise to my older daughter. About three or four years ago, I promised to make her curtains for her bedroom. Then life happened… I never got around to making those curtains. A miscarriage, depression, separation, the Princess’s seizures and autism, all are valid excuses but I have heard about it every Christmas since, one of those family jokes.
Well, Sunday morning I sewed them…and two matching pillows. It felt so f’ing good to finally keep my promise. I have told her that this year, barring a fire or flood, she is getting her curtains, but she says she will believe it when she sees it. Too many broken promises as a child…and I accept my responsibility for that.
I am also reading a series of books about Merlin and King Arthur that a friend recommended. Oaths or promises are a major theme of them. In the latest one, a young prince is given the chance to save his life by denying his oath to King Arthur and returning to his father. He chose death. In those days that was how seriously they took their promises.
Another character was forced by his oath to Arthur’s father to kill innocent women and children. Am I recommending something that drastic? No, but that was another lesson as well. If we see our promises in that light…as oaths sworn in blood…it forces us to consider them more carefully BEFORE we make them.
The Princess has a friend whose mother is always arranging play dates and then breaking them. I have learned over time not to tell her until practically the last minute. This woman is not a bad person. She is simply as I was with my older children…not mindful of the cost of our broken promises. She is not here when I have to tell Princess that her friend won’t be coming over. She does not understand the meltdown that it causes; how it can ruin our whole day. And that is where most of us live…in de-Nile, denial. We do not appreciate the damage that our broken promises do to others.
So my first resolution of the New Year…be careful of what I promise but always be committed to keeping those promises. Not just to my Princess but my other children, my friends and most importantly…myself and the goddess within me. Who knows maybe one day even a Dom.