Of all the people I thought I may quote in parenthood, I never thought it’d be a man from a fashion reality show. But, I do.
I hear his words escape my mouth constantly.
Like, when my teenager needs a ride somewhere and I’m just not able to do it. I say this knowing that “need” is a strong word. Needs are shelter and water and food and love, things I remind her of more often than I’d like because I know it’ll be one of those things she mimics when I’m older and she gets together with her siblings to remember their childhood.
I think about those flash-forward moments more often than I’d like to admit, although I’m admitting it right here.
I say it to my son, when his favorite kind of underwear are still in the dryer but he’s ready to wear them, any other clean underwear in his drawer be damned. He’s got a thing for underwear, one of those unexpected delights that comes with raising very individual human beings. Who knew he’d be the one who would need certain underwear?
And I say it to my youngest, when her backpack is so full it looks like she might tip backwards. No, I won’t drive you to school about 300 yards from our house, because I didn’t do it for your older sister and brother and I’m built for equality and justice, from my gooey cellular insides, out.
It’s not that I don’t do things for them. I do. So. Many. Things. So many! so many. Things they see and things they don’t.
Putting the laundry on time delay, laying angrily awake through the noisy spin cycle then crawling out of bed at 4 a.m. when you hear the chime to switch it — so that one pair of jeans she can’t live without is dry in time for school. Remembering every ingredient for the one meal that makes them smile from the inside, without them ever asking. Paying their fees, getting them to practice, coming to terms with stretch marks, remembering the story they told you the other day so you can connect the dots when they give you an update about people you don’t even know. Math homework.
Those kinds of things.
So you’d think as a parent that you’d quote a parenting expert or a gratitude expert or, like, Brene Brown or someone when you’re searching the air for the perfect way to tie up a moment in a way that lets them know you love them and you believe in them but you’re not doing the thing — whatever the thing is.
It’s why Tim Gunn’s matter-of-fact phrase nails it, even if they’re not repairing a seam on a custom gown made from crayon wrappers, or whatever material those “Project Runway” contestants were challenged to use.
Make it work
It works every time.