Last week, for the first time, a serious wrench was thrown into the works when I was felled by emergency surgery and our whole system broke down.
In a quick phone call before surgery, I told Jim he’d have to leave his office early and pick Madeline up at school and then come and get me. When I came out of the operating room, the two of them were there waiting. “Are you okay, mommy?” asked my daughter, having never seen me like this. The anxiety on her face broke my heart.
Unable to get out of bed for the next three days, I was forced to give up my role as ‘boss’ and, lo and behold, except for some unfortunate fashion choices on the part of my husband and daughter, everything went pretty well.
Did Madeline eat a balanced breakfast? Not every day. Did she wear her hat when she went to the park? No. Did she come home covered in mud for the first time? Yep. Did she have a fabulous time getting a whole lot of alone time with Daddy? She sure did.
While I sat home this weekend, recovering, and watched hours of really bad television, Jim and Madeline went out to lunch, shopped and took in a movie (I got a phone call from my husband to report our daughter lasted all of a half hour before wanting to leave). As I write this, he is driving her around in the car so she can nap (she got up at 5 a.m. this morning and refused to go back to bed) and I can finish this post.
I’ve also had plenty of time to think about how detrimental it is for my daughter to believe that one parent is more influential than the other. Jim and I love Madeline equally. She needs to see her parents act as if we believe we are equal partners with an equal say in raising her. We both have done everything we can to give her all we can, whether that means driving her to school every day for three years or shelling out the money so that she can go.
So I’ve decided as my final act as ‘boss,’ I think I’ll issue my last proclamation and retire from my position. It’s high time I – and mean we – tell Madeline we’re switching from a monarchy to a democracy around here.
Betty’s multi-tasking parenting columnist is a New York Times best-selling author who covers fashion and entertainment for publications, including People. When she adopted her daughter from China in 2005, she discovered motherhood provides great material on a daily basis. Between driving her daughter to nursery school and juggling play dates, she writes and is at work on her first novel.