How To Make It Never Your Fault – The Rule of Accountability

blog - never my fault

When I was a kid, I was raised with pretty simple ideals.

Be polite.  Be real.  Focus only on things that make you better, things that expand your mind, and things that are a good use of your time.  Tell the truth.  Be kind.   Say what you mean, and mean what you say.  Do what you say you’re going to do, even when it’s hard, even when no one is watching.  Fulfill your commitments.  Be on time.  Watch your words, for the words you speak decide for others who you are.  Be responsible for yourself.  Pick up your own mess.  Dress in a way that exemplifies your character.  Leave everything better than how you found it.  Stand up for yourself.  Stand up for others.  Life is 10% what happens and 90% how we react to it.  Choose  a positive attitude.  Treat others with love, grace, and respect, no matter what.

SIMPLE.  Good.  All good things.  All good ideas, all good beliefs.  If I were to read you these ideals one at a time, I doubt you’d have a problem with any of them.  These are the kinds of things we raise our kids to believe, the personality and character traits we hope others see in us.  When I die, I want people to say I did all these things.

Except now, it seems to me that life and relationships are getting way more complicated.

As dumb as it is, these simple ideals all have caveats.  Conditionals.  Every single one of them has an “except” added to it.
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The Illusion of Safety and Avoidance of Fear

When I lived in South Africa, the one thing I was told over and over by the natives was “Don’t travel after dark.” I said “okay,” and I really did try my best to accommodate that recommendation. Errands, particularly those that required a vehicle, were done in the morning or afternoon.

One day an out-of-town visit for some of the fellow missionaries and myself took longer than expected, and we were late getting back. The road that led to the very rural town we were staying in meandered through sugarcane fields, and there were no street lights. For the most part, there was no electricity of ANY kind where we were staying. (Living without a fridge was a new experience!)

Night fell.  Soon the headlights of the car were the only lights to be seen for miles around. Sugarcane loomed on each side, growing right up to the edge of the narrow, two lane road.

Suddenly and almost out of nowhere, there appeared a very large tree trunk in the road.  It was lying perpendicular to oncoming traffic and completely blocked the lane we were driving in.  We swerved the car to avoid it, but in the OTHER lane there was a small wall of boulders stacked to block traffic.  It was close – the sidewall of the tires scraped the edge of the rocks on one side – but we managed to navigate through.
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“Selfish” is NOT a Four Letter Word. GET YOURS.

A very, very long time ago I made a hugely big-girl decision and put myself on birth control.

I did it even though I was married and he didn’t like it.

I did it even though I was a “natural family planner.”

I did it even though (according to religious doctrine) it was a no no to prevent conception, even though it supposed to be a mutual decision, even though I was supposed to be submissive to my husband’s direction, even though I had more or less committed to having four kids and not just three.

I did it without anyone else’s permission, without anyone else’s input, and without anyone else’s blessing.

Even though I never thought I’d be on birth control again after I stopped to have my first baby, even though I knew for sure I wanted more kids, I did it anyways.

I remember the day I made the decision.  I was nervous, excited, kind of sad.  I remember the rush of adrenaline that came with putting my foot down, and how much stronger I felt to take responsibility for my sexual identity and reproductive system.

I remember feeling sad, a little, that my body had to be “taken back” from the role of wife-mother-child-bearer, like the name tag I had worn on my chest for so long needed to be changed from all those other things to “Just Erin,” but I ALSO remember how right it felt to have a grain of control over my life and my body.

For the first time ever, on that day I took OWNERSHIP of myself, my destiny, and the trajectory of my life.

For the first time ever, I did something just for me.

My body, my rules, my life.

Sounds selfish, right?
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If You’re the Parent, it IS Your Fault

One morning at the end of May, I stopped at the grocery store to buy a last minute snack for my son’s preschool.  Seriously… “last minute.”  As we were getting in the car to drive him to school, the four year old piped up from the back seat.

“MOMMY, today is my snack day.  Do you remember?  I just forgot, but now I remember.”

UM NO I DID NOT REMEMBER.  Turn off car, bolt to front door, unlock door, race up the stairs two at a time, check the calendar on the fridge.

Yep, it was written right there.  Right in between “Kinder Registration Due,” “Meet Aubrey at 9.45,” “Meet Silverlake @ 11.00,” “Book Fair 12.00,” and “Parent Teacher Conference 1.30 – 3.00,”

Can’t imagine why I missed it, right?
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