Monday, May 7, 2012

Plan A.

"The best thing you've ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously.  It's only life after all. . ."

Closer to Fine, by the Indigo Girls

Last week, THIS happened at my house. . .while I was on the phone.  For a whopping 15 minutes.

Now, I knew I had this conference call for work, and had planned my entire morning around it.  I would get up extra early, get all my chores done, wear the kids out in the backyard, feed them an early snack, take them potty and leave them to watch Sesame Street for a few minutes while I went upstairs for a kind-of-a-big-deal first meeting with a client.   Doesn't that sound like a great plan?  It did to me. . .however, I came downstairs to find that plan B was already in place.   Is plan A even a part of life anymore?   I am starting to think plan A is more elusive than unicorns and finding size 4 diapers at Target.  Even then, I had to try pretty hard not to laugh. . .and all of the stuffing went back in, so, we're good.  But, it got me thinking.  You know that saying, I was a great parent until I had kids?  That was so me!!  Before I had kids, I would sit at the lunch table with my colleagues and they would tell me stories of mischief that their little ones would get into.  Flour and chocolate syrup all over the kitchen, socks down the toilet, marker (or worse things!) on the walls.  These stories were all hysterically funny, but as I laughed with my friends I had a hard time imagining in my feeble pre-parental mind how that would ever happen.  Pre-parenthood Jen was just mildly curious as to what those parents were doing when they were supposed to be watching their kids?  Pre-parenthood Jen was also pretty confident that her kids would never get into any mischief around her house!  No way, not this super-duper-awesome parent!!

I mean, I am going to supervise my kids EVERY SINGLE SECOND.  They will never get into any thing they weren't supposed to while their super-duper-awesome mom wasn't looking. . .

They'll be so clean and well-cared for. . .
Smile angelically in every family photo. . .

Eat really healthy food with excellent table manners. . .

Be totally loving to each other all of the time. . .

And I would NEVER just plop my kids in front of the TV so I could get some housework done, right?


OK, I was totally wrong.  Once you become a parent for realsies, everything you previously thought you knew about parenting was goes out the window.  For example, I had no idea that so much of parenting revolved around poop.  Like, from the time they are born. . .you are counting it, writing it down, changing it, disposing of it, analyzing its frequency, color, and consistency, calling your spouse at work to discuss it, obsessing about the times when it doesn't want to go in the potty because it just prefers to go in underwear. . .I had no idea.  I really thought parenthood was about loving your kids, reading them stories and dressing them up in cute outfits.  Silly Jen.

Also, pre-parenthood, I would see those stories on the news, you know the ones about Britney Spears driving with her baby in her lap or about the single mom who left her preschoolers home alone so she could go out to a bar. . .and I would be like, "Oh my gosh , how could someone DO that???"  Now, I just want to give that single mom a hug.  Then I wish I could just go over there any babysit for her so she could go out and get some adult time. . .poor mom!  I am sure none of that stuff that happened was part of her plan A.

I realize now that when I first became a parent, I missed out on a lot of happiness trying to accomplish plan A and live up to my vision of what I thought family life should be.  I wore myself out trying to accomplish tasks that were so easy for me before another human being's life was so closely intertwined with mine, and no one was better for it.  Over time, I have learned that one big part of happiness is freeing yourself from the burden of expectations set too high.  That goes for your children, for your husband, and most importantly for yourself.  I can be very hard on myself, so attempting to extend graciousness and lovingkindess to the girl in the mirror is a constant area of growth for me.  If I don't expect everything to go according to plan and to be a magazine-perfect parent while executing said plan , it helps.  It's all about enjoying the good-enough-but-not-quite-perfect way things just GO around here.

 Perfect happens in God's time, not mine after all.  

I am slowly letting go of the hypothetical parent I thought I was going to be before I had kids, and becoming the parent that my children that are here right now need me to be.  I don't want to miss out on the fun because I am still focused on plan A. They're just growing up so fast, you know!

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1 comment:

  1. WOW-this was very eye-opening as to how hard this parenting thing. There have been times that I have listened to others talk about their kids' behavior and thought similar things to what you thought. I continue to be in awe of your ability to excel at mothering 3 children under 5.


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