Based in Washington, Ross is a general manager of a food safety company. His musings explore life, work and every moment in between.

Can we start over?

I’m late. It’s the Tuesday after Labor Day and the rest of the world has their sh*t together. Not me. Sloan and I are late for her 4th day of preschool and I’m going to be late to my first meeting. I’m stressed.

Once we get to school, her teacher asks, “where is her backpack?” Facepalm. Her backpack. The thing with her lunch and snacks and things for school. I’m going to be really late.

I leave her there and shoot home, grab her backpack (it was on the floor of the garage next to the car door where I loaded her in) and head back to school. I meet her teacher again and she says, “…sweater?” Facepalm. I apologize and promise her it’s going to be hot today (it wasn’t) and leave.

Worst parent ever. So, I call Laura.

Bad idea.

“Hey babe, I just dropped off Sloan and…”

That didn’t go well. She immediately corrected all my mistakes and told me what I should have done. It was bad. And I bailed. I pretended I had another call to take (I didn’t) and took a deep breath (probably 10). And I called her back.

“Hey babe, can we start over?” I asked. “I had a terrible morning.” And in the next breath I launched into the same story of me being a terribly unprepared Dad. When I finished, she said “I’m so sorry sweetheart, that sounds like a terrible morning. Are you ok?”

Exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes I don’t get things right. Sometimes I make big mistakes. Sometimes, the person I trust the most in the world (Laura) isn’t ready to hear it. Sometimes, I screw up meetings or one-on-ones. This doesn’t define me or the other person.

Many times in my career I have re-approached the other person and asked if we can redo the conversation from the day before or from that morning. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes we’re not the person we want to be. But with the people who are most important in our lives, why not ask if we can start over?

This is something Laura and I are always working at. When either of us hear the words, “Can we start over?” we both acknowledge the importance of doing so. It’s an olive branch without losing face. It’s vital to our strength as a couple. When we aren’t proud of our initial conversation, and especially of the resulting exchange, we ask for a do over. It’s a tool we use to keep us strong, because we owe it to each other to grant a do over.

Intellectual Humility