I manage a city. I manage a city, and I have every job within the city.
When things go awry with my children or their friends, or even with kids at school they don’t really know, I am on the other end of the 9-1-1 call. My job is to ask just enough questions to assess risk and recommend action, but not upset the balance so much that they don’t call again because I overreacted to their call for help.
Sometimes there’s a fire and I can show my girls how they can extinguish it. Sometimes there’s a fire and I need to put it out for them. Sometimes I know without a second thought that a fire will eventually die out without causing any damage, and I just let that issue smolder. Sometimes the fire in our lives is 4-alarm and requires multiple trucks and stations – family and neighbors and helpers.
I restore the peace as children disagree. Issuing citations and enforcing time out periods, in hopes of deterring bad behavior. I also investigate friends that seem to not be good influences.
I fix booboos of all kinds on everything from knees to hearts. Jumping into ambulances and speeding off with lights and sirens to get help when basic triage isn’t working.
I clean up spills and overflows and experiments. Slime. Paint. Markers. Sharpies. Lotion potions. Cat throw-up. Marshmallow explosions in the microwave.
I am the collector of garbage. Everything from candy wrappers to an entire box of tissues used during a make-up lesson. I am also the one who sweeps up after all the emotional messes created by others – the hurt and anger and pain that children hide until they can get home, when it all comes pouring out on the parent they trust to love them and be there for them no matter how much they melt down.
I am the provider of water, earlier in my career called upon as a way to delay bedtime and later in my career called upon for a glass of water even if a child is physically closer to the kitchen but cannot possibly get up off the couch.
Just like Miss Utility, my children call on me when digging into things. They need help carefully navigating all the wires and pipes that could cause pain and really hurt them.
I am one central office in the municipal center that grants or denies permits for all things. Painting a new color in a bedroom, sleepovers, extended bed times, bowling with boys, favorite cute shorts on 50 degree days.
I am aware of all children in proximity to my children and constantly keeping track of who has been on antibiotics at least 24 hours without a fever, who around us isn’t vaccinated, and who has food allergies.
I oversee transportation. Bus rides to school, rides to and from activities. I arrange more than just the transport of people but also all that is needed for the “thing” – a backpack, a suitcase, a musical instrument, a bathing suit, a sports physical form, a costume, or simply just a brush and make-up.
I am a 9-1-1 operator, a firefighter, a police officer, an EMT, a member of the HAZMAT team, and a sanitation worker. I am public utilities, the public health inspector, VDOT, and even Animal Control.
I am a Mom.
Some days my city runs more smoothly than others. Some days there are no fires or traffic. Some days I know a storm is coming and I can batten down all the hatches and protect the city. Some days an unexpected yet utterly predictable earthquake strikes, plunging our city into darkness – and then I spend days managing the anxiety and realizations brought on by the event and its aftershocks.
Some days I think I need more focus on city planning and other days I think I need more focus on emergency services. Balance is the key, I guess, and that’s constantly a work in progress – for any Mom and in any city.
I don’t think Pete Buttigieg really has a chance at becoming the President, but I love this summary of his: In local government, it’s very clear to your customers – your citizens – whether or not you’re delivering. Either that pothole gets filled in, or it doesn’t. The results are very much on display, and that creates a very healthy pressure to innovate.
It’s Monday in my city, the beginning of the last week of summer. The week for final back-to-school preparations, annual vaccinations, water balloon fights, and beginning to rein in our desire to sleep in. Next week my city will change again as school buses fill the roads and schedules change. It’s time for change and it’s time for innovation. That means it’s time for granting more space and showing more trust in smart girls who are growing and maturing, it means fixing some potholes here and there, and it even means constructing some new roads.
It’s time to double down on the brave.
Brave parenting. Brave city management. Brave new paths.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my house – the hub of my little city. My neighbor took this picture on the night of the super moon in January 2018. I love, love, love that it looks like a giant star of light hovering above our home…a giant light hovering above my city. It’s one of my reminders that darkness did not and does not defeat light.