“Awww, I wanted Dad!” Lessons of Divorced-Parenting

Are you familiar with the scene in Austin Powers where Dr. Evil keeps telling his son to “Zip it”?  As soon as his adult son opens his mouth to speak, Dr. Evil is there to block it with “Zip it”.  “Ziiiiiiiiiip it!”  Yes, this movie scene is my secret to mindfulness. 

When my mind starts looping on some divorced-parenting ego thought, my “Dr. Mindfulness” jumps in with a “Ziiiiiiiiip it!”  With every attempted replay: “Zip!”  Not only is it effective in reminding me to knock-it-off, it’s also sorta funny and lightens me up.  My daughter appreciates it when I lighten-up.

Recently, Dr. Mindfulness had a chance to tell me to “Zip it!”  Thursdays are gymnastics days for my 1st grader, which means she gets to be a “walker” instead of a “buser”.  Upon seeing my daughter come out of school, I waved and smiled.  Upon seeing me, she responded, “Awwww, I wanted Dad to pick me up!”. 

Zip it!” jumped right in at the same instant that “Nice to see you too” was ready to pop out of my mouth.  The paralyzing inner-voice competition kept me from saying anything.

In the absence of my speaking, my daughter, not sure if I heard her, repeated louder, “I wanted Dad to take me to gymnastics!

Zip it!” [and try to think of something to say!  …NOW!]

Hi Sweetie! Brrrr, it’s cold out… [good start, keep going, address her comment!]...[Zip it!]... I know you had fun last week when dad took you to gymnastics… [good, keep going]... we can ask him again if you’d like.”

[Phew! Did it. Thanks Dr. Mindfulness!]

My daughter, in typical 1st grader “oh shiney!” fashion said, “Oooooh! There’s my friend that I play with at recess!” and the subject passed along with the many busses.

In the quiet of her peering out the window and waving to friends, I had time to think.  Dr. Mindfulness had done her job, and I was thankful.  Of course I’d love to have a “HI MOM!  I COULDN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU!”, but I know that she sees me all of the time, and with predictablility comes a bit of “ho-hum”.  I’m glad that I’m “ho-hum” to my daughter.  Growing up, I never had to exclaim joy at seeing my mom (although I now realize she would have appreciated it).  She was always there when I needed her, she was routine.  Now my dad?  That would have been very different.  Dad was a hard working man, rarely home till supper.  I probably would have done cartwheels in seeing him after school.  And that would have been a fitting response to a special occassion.  I probably would have been disapointed the following week in remembering that joy, and not re-experiencing it with a repeated pick-up.

It’s amazing, given the space to breath, what your mind can think about in an instant.  I smiled in the rear view mirror at my daughter.  I’m glad she enjoys spending time with her dad.  That is how it should be.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about her disappointment.  Yes, she was now perfectly happy peering out the window, eating her apple, but her flash of disappointment stayed with me.  I questioned what I did, or didn’t do, to create her expectation that Dad would be there.  I know my daughter will experience disappointment throughout life, but my “super mom” cape tries to shield away as much as possible. 

So I spent another second reflecting.  I re-played the rushed morning when I said “Gymnastics after school!” as she rushed out to catch the bus.  I didn’t say, “

I’ll pick you up for

gymnastics after school!”  My lacking few words caused her to experience disappointment.  Dr. Mindfulness was right to tell me to “Zip it” so that I could remember; remember that this had nothing to do with divorce.  I needed to be more mindful of my daughter in the morning, even when in a rush.  And with that, I breathed in and out as I drove out of the parking lot.  Sometimes the biggest lesson in mindful divorced-parenting is that divorce has nothing to do with it.

For guidance in “Zip it” mindfulness, have a laugh with Dr. Evil on YouTube.  And I bet you, “Zip it” will be forefront in your mind the next time you need it most!


Author and “Zip it” mindful thinker, Ellen Kellner, guides parents through The Pro-Child Way of nurturing their child’s spirit through her intuition, discernment, and experience.  Her book on divorced parenting is available on Amazon.

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