I sometimes miss out on things that take place while my kids are at home and I am at work. I know that this is the situation for many parents – moms and dads – who have to work. Sometimes that is a disappointment but, in most cases, the stories they relate keep me involved and help me to appreciate the hard work of parenting my wife has each day.
Technology has always allowed my wife, Heidi, to share whatever is going on at home while I am at work. That started with our first flip phone and has continued through the many phases of the iPhone. Sometimes it was a simple text such at “when are you coming home?” and sometimes the message was more immediate and demanded a quicker response.
When our daughter, Elizabeth, was an infant having a late afternoon fit, the ones where she would scream for an extended time, I would receive a telephone call – once Heidi had reached her wits end – with only my daughter’s screaming coming out of the receiver. That was my cue to head home.
As technology has improved, my cell phone communications from home have been more in the form of texted pictures — a project completed at school and proudly brought home, an activity at the library might come across. Many times these pictures are followed with a happy text about one of our children’s accomplishments.
There are times when the picture coming across is of one of the kids with an angry or sad face. Sometimes the picture is followed simply with “Argh!” or it could be a sarcastic understatement of what is going on: “we are all going to be happy when you get home. Ha, ha.”
Either way, I know what’s going on while I’m at work and we have documentation for posterity to remind us of the ups and downs of parenting. I also often have the freedom – which my wife doesn’t, because she is in the midst of the matter – to enjoy the moment and even laugh at the circumstance.
A recent event that caused me to laugh was one of extreme consternation for Heidi. Our daughter, Elizabeth, decided that she was going to leave home. She was upset about something, which led to her issuing the ultimatum that she was leaving. Although frustrating, Heidi let her play this out.
Elizabeth took a blanket, pillow and a warm coat and walked out the door. But her travel took her only a few paces to a maple tree near our house. Heidi captured the moment on her cell phone and sent it to me. The picture that came to me through a text was of her lying in the notch of the tree with a pillow below her and a blanket on top.
I laughed at the picture and then looked at it closer for Elizabeth’s expression. I saw then that there might have been a serious issue behind this funny picture. I texted back, “Is she mad?” (dumb question, obviously she was) and “Has she moved out?”. Both were responded to with “yes”.
There was little I could do at that moment but hope and pray that Heidi could solve the situation. Within a few minutes I received a reassuring text that all was well and that Elizabeth had left the tree “house”.
When I came home there were smiles and some humiliation from Elizabeth from my suggestion that she move her room to the maple tree.
Texting kept me in the loop, but meant that I did not have to do all the hard work. That was left to my wife, to resolve the issue. In the end I appreciate the laugh and my wife’s efforts to bring our family through these moments caught on text.
Matt Reger is a husband, father, attorney, aspiring and writer who loves to write about his family,
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