A few years back, Max called to ask me to bring home pepperoni hot pockets. I said, “How was your day?” He said, “Actually not that great.” “Oh,” I said. “You know, I think you’re starting to go through puberty.” He said, “MOM, I HAVE BEEN GOING through puberty. It’s very stressful.” Oh I understand. Because adulting – same.

A few weeks ago, I texted Max and asked him if he wanted me to get him anything from the grocery store. He texted me back: “Can you get Oreos, milk, cheezits and hot pockets. I need it for my stress eating diet.” I doubled up on that request. Because -well, just – same.

I just bought Max more pepperoni hot pockets and the other stuff on his list. I know. They’re not healthy. But let’s be real. It’s all relative. My boss said to me several times when I was struggling as a first-year attorney. “Perfect is the enemy of done.” What we do – and what my sons do – are with an intent to make this world a better place because we were here. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Maybe if it’s done with love, it’s perfect. I’d like to think so.

There’s a lot of perfectionist notions, great sweeping assumptions, that could give way to done. Or at least to the next step. Like: Getting to the perfect weight. Falling in love with “the One.” Eating organic/vegan/carb free/keto all the time time. All of these perfectionist goals have a silver lining. They can be subject to change, Which means, to get there, wherever you want to be, just means you have to change your mind. That’s the greatest power you have, by the way. To take a step and not judge yourself for it. And to know that the goal is whatever makes you happy, whatever that goal may be.

About a year ago, I had a text conversation with Max:

Me: I’m sorry I yelled at you this morning. I was having a bad morning and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. 
Max: The damage is done. 
Max: Jk. I love you Mom.
Me: I love you and I’ll pay for therapy.
Max: It’s ok. I’ll sell my body to make the money.
Me: Omg.

It is easier to be mad at yourself and admit defeat than to take one step towards a goal. It’s hard to apologize when you’re wrong. It’s hard to let something go from your life and admit it no longer serves you. Both are equally difficult. And equally necessary. You can’t take the next step if you’re stuck in the past.

My kids have never let me off the culpability hook, so whining about change has never been an option. For me or for them. Whether they know it or not, my responsibility to raise good men has been the underpinning to almost all of my major decisions. I am a better person because of this, I think. I may be a better human overall because I’m their mom.

As I write this, I am waiting for my Max to come home from his latest gig so we can finish college applications. As I write this, my Shane and I have come to an agreement about how to take an online class on writing together, which took some serious texting and a few smart-ass (typical) comments. As I write this, I realize I am hungry and I go downstairs and warm up a pepperoni hot pocket. Pretty sure Max will be okay with and understand me eating one of his stress diet staples. Often, as I am sure you do, I get stuck in what I should do versus whether what I am doing is right. And then my sons remind me.

From Max’s tenacity, I am reminded that if you get to a place where you are stuck, you just have to keep going until you are not stuck. From Shane’s steadfast calm and smart-ass humor, I am reminded that wins may be incremental but as our Samurai ancestors knew, incremental courage wins the war. And that is how imperfectly “done” will change the world. Which is really the point. We want this world to be better for our kids. And so I’ll get up tomorrow to be better and to do better. For my kids. And for yours. Keep going.

Current Balance

I set my kids up with checking accounts with debit cards to teach them about finances and how to manage money BEFORE they graduated from high school.  In early 2017, I found myself in the throes of trying to explain bank logic to a 14-year-old including why the bar mitzvah check he had kept in his drawer for a year didn’t count as “savings.”

Yesterday my Shane called me on the way to his bank to ask me if he should start using checks to pay his rent. I began explaining check registers and reconciling check registers to him and that there may be a charge for getting checks from his bank. Finally, he said to me, “Mom, I think I’m just going to get a cashier’s check for this month’s rent.” I said to him, “I think that’s a great idea.”

Today Shane called me and asked me if I could confirm that he had written his first check correctly. He’d decided to go with getting checks. He asked me what the various items on the check register were and we covered how to fill out his check register and how to reconcile his account. He got it all. Perfectly. I said, “You’re doing a lot of adulting today.” He said, “Yeah, I’m not sure I like it.”  I’m damn proud of him. And yes. Adulting sucks.

I never learned in high school how to balance a checking account. In high school I learned how to sew a straight hem and bake muffins (I still cannot do either, thank you). I did not know what a checking account was or that I had to balance it until I got my first job as a legal secretary after college and bounced multiple checks. It was not until after law school that I finally figured out how to balance my checkbook. And it was not until after my divorce that I actually began to do it.

One of my favorite bands, Poi Dog Pondering sings, “Complicated – it’s all right. Wanna get it right this time.” I am grateful for all that I have. For sure, it’s complicated. The law degree. The home. The car. The stuff. The shoes. I want to get it right this time. I really hope I get it right this time.

I did not go to school and graduate just to pay for school for the rest of my life. My dream of being an attorney should not be subjugated to the loan that paid for it.  I do not want my kids to believe that dreams die for mortgages and debt. Yes, pay off your shit. But your salary, your debt, and the money in your bank account do not represent your value.

I think our available balance is the difference between infinity and some random number (eight dollars did not then or now at all represent the Maximum-ness of the Max for sure) in a bank. I think our current balance is the minutes left in this day. I think our true currency is love and we need to spend it every damn day and as often as possible. I think our value is defined by how much we give, not how much we keep. I believe, maybe, it isn’t that complicated. And we’re all going to get it right this time.