We are on the same team

It has been a productive morning. The pile of dirty laundry is now a pile of clean laundry. The breakfast dishes have been loaded in the dishwasher, and dinner is cooking in the Crockpot. Even better, I took a shower and got dressed before noon.

same team

While the girls play nicely in the living room, I pick up the phone to call a friend. “Hi Kezia, I was calling to ask about…” I hear a scream. I turn around and two of the girls are fighting over a toy. While the tug of war unfolds, Barbie – held by my third child – has been “jumping” in her dance class and accidentally pokes the eye of her owner. An unfortunate event that sends her into a high pitch cry. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

“I will have to call you later.” I hang up the phone.

By lunch time, two of the girls have been in the naughty corner a couple of times. One has been sent to her room, and I have heard the dramatically enhanced phrase, “It is not fair!” more times than I can count. I have wanted to say those same words using my outside voice a couple of times too.

When my husband arrives home, it is evident that we have had a tiring couple of hours. I am presently warning one of the girls, “If you take that from your sister one more time, you will go back to the naughty corner!”

“What is going on?” he asks

“It is pretty obvious, don’t you think!” I snap at him. As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know they are unkind. With my attitude, I take my frustration on him and fight him too.

“Honey” he gently says, “We are on the same team.”

This is our “code” phrase, a reminder that we are in this together. His words touch the chaos in my heart. I don’t have to fight. I am not alone in this parenting adventure, I have a team mate, and a friend.

I take a deep breath.

“We are on the same team” I repeat, “I need help on this one or I will scream”

He takes over with the girls who are excited daddy is home for lunch, and after a few minutes, they are all rolling on the floor. In the kitchen, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Later that day, when the girls go to bed, Andy and I sit down with a cup of decaffeinated coffee and talk about our day.

We talk about being in the same team.

Sometimes it is easy to allow the tensions of life to pull us apart. It is easier to “survive” a day, rather than live it. The truth is, when I am only surviving, I have little time to stop and “gather around” to play as a team.

When our girls see that mommy and daddy are united, that they are a team, they feel secure. Mommy is not snapping at daddy, but rather asking for backup. Mommy is not going at it alone, but has a strong partner beside her.

Sometimes team members get crabby, sometimes team members do not pull their part. But we are still a team, we still play together. If one of the girls asks for something, we respond, “What did mommy say?” or “What did daddy say?” We don’t challenge or diminish parenting styles in front of the children. When tension rises and we have to play hard, we stay as a team, and we try to work together. When things go well, we can celebrate.

We sip some more coffee and smile as we look back at the day. Some days are harder than other days, and some days I chose to go at it alone. Those are the days I feel defeated. But we played well today and our friendship is strengthened because we are on the same team.

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2 Comments

  • Reply August 8, 2013

    Sherry Gonterman

    Oh Ellen, as I read this I began to cry; a mixture of tears of joy and tears of sadness. I remember those days, which seem a lifetime ago, when I was a stay at home Mom with 3 kids – ages 5, 3, and 6 months. There were times when I wanted to yell, run away, throw something, or just thought myself unworthy of being a competent mother. My marriage was not like yours, and I did not have the teammate Andy is for you. We were not a team and we eventually divorced. Our children rarely saw a united front. I try to eradicate the what ifs from my thoughts; I can’t change the past for my children or for myself. I can only live in the moment each day and occasionally dream about the future. Your ability to share these moments of your life with such honesty and openness inspires me to believe love like yours does exist and that my children can have that kind of love in their relationships. I have never given up hope for stronger relationships for myself and for my children; but I now have a tangible example. I strive to be the best mother, wife, teacher, daughter, sister, friend, and woman I can be. I am blessed to have met you and I thank you for inspiring me to write honestly and openly – it has become a therapy of some sort for me. I had forgotten how much writing allowed me to release my feelings. I will never forget again.

  • Reply August 9, 2013

    Peter DeHaan

    “We are on the same team” I love that! Thanks for the insight!

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