Sometimes my ability to make decisions quickly complicates my life in unexpected ways. I think God made me this way because if I was in the habit of thinking things through, I’d never take any risks at all. When I decided to start a No Nelling challenge 19 days ago to stop yelling at my kids, I didn’t honestly believe it would be that difficult. I’d just do what other bloggers had done before me and follow the guidelines they set out.
A couple of weeks into the challenge, I found myself wondering why it’s so hard. When I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I had many discussions about the kind of parents we wanted to be. Not surprisingly, there were many things we wanted to do differently from our parents and some that we wanted to do the same. We talked about it in broad terms because we really didn’t have any idea what we were talking about. Our friends who had kids chuckled at us because they already knew that you can’t plan for everything. They would nod their heads, pat us on the shoulder and say, “Wow. That sounds great. Good luck with that.” I now do the same thing with first time parents. Why burst their bubble when they’re going to find out soon enough that they’re clueless?
I recently watched a sports documentary and a coach said something pretty profound. He said that an idea without a plan is just a wish.
I had big ideas about the kind of mother I’d be. My kids would eat everything I put in front of them, clean their rooms because they wanted to and never get a cavity. I was sure that I’d never yell at my kids the way I was yelled at. I didn’t bother reading a bunch of parenting books but even if I had, I doubt they would’ve made any sense because until you actually face a challenge, you can’t possibly know how you’re going to respond. Parenting requires a certain flexibility that you can’t fathom until you do it yourself.
I’m full of wishes but it’s downright hard to turn a wish into a plan into a habit.
I think that’s the magic and mystery of parenthood. We’re meant to wing it, to fly by the seat of our pants and to mess up in big and little ways every day. We never get to the point where we can say, “Whew! I’m glad I have this parenting thing figured out. Now I can relax.” Whether our kids are 1 day old or 18250 days old, parenthood remains fluid and unpredictable. It’s those very qualities that confound and frustrate us and force us to grow in ways that we didn’t know we needed.
P.S. My wise husband is fond of saying, “Wish in one hand and sh*t in the other and see which one gets filled first.” I think this is his way of saying Let Go and Let God.
P.S.S. Happy birthday husband!