Our cruise ship, post-fire. Yes. It was really really bad.
Sometimes being a parent feels incredibly overwhelming. The other day my daughter tripped and fell and landed on her chin, cutting her lip with her tooth. It wasn’t so bad as to need stitches, but man, that thing swelled up so fast! Trying to stay calm, get her calm, and get some ice on a 2-year-old’s lip was quite a challenge.
But when I face the tough moments of parenthood, I think back to life before I was a parent, back in the hazy days of when my husband and I first got engaged. A couple of weeks after the engagement, we took a cruise to the Caribbean. We were about three days into the cruise when, in the middle of the night, the ship alarm went off. Before we knew it, we were being told to get our lifejackets, hats, and long-sleeved shirts and report to our muster stations—this was an emergency of the highest level. Smoke was coming into the room and it was clear that the boat was on fire. My husband, being the wonderful romantic man he is, turned to me and said, “No matter what happens, I love you.” I responded, “Turn around and get the f*@% out of here!” (Yes, the boat was on fire. Luckily, we were fine and all of our belongings were fine. Others weren’t so lucky.)
What you’ll notice from this story is that I’m good in a crisis. (When we got home and I told my friends what happened, they universally said that if they had to pick anyone to be with on a burning cruise ship, they’d pick me. Who knew?) I keep calm, I analyze the situation, and I work toward a solution.
I’ve learned this even more now that I’m a parent. Because when you’re a parent, there’s a crisis happening almost all of the time.
Whether it’s a scraped knee, a missing stuffed animal, or the fact that suddenly your toddler hates strawberries with a passion so strong that she throws them across the room, life with a small child can quickly shift from everything being fine to tantrum mode. So how do you deal with the crisis? Deep breaths, assess the situation, and deal with it. And if you need to swear a little bit to get it done, I approve.
Oh, and another lesson I learned from the cruise? After you’ve been in a crisis situation, offer free wine or beer at dinner. You’ll make everyone a lot happier. Including yourself.