Weeds or Wishes
I believe my first two children were two and four when I got hit with a truth bomb that began to rearrange my thinking on parenting. I was upset as to how the day went and admitted to a pool of anger I didn’t know how to deal with. Someone I respected greatly interjected, “Jill, did you think it would be easy?” I was taken aback but also realized I hadn’t thought about it one way or another. My Moms took care of three kids, I figured I could as well. Ipso facto, I must have thought it would be easy. Clearly it wasn’t, so what was I going to do about it?
I posted an article the other day about the positive thinking movement and ways it can really get you into trouble. Mark Manson discussed the sometimes ridiculous ideas of “The Secret.” Well, he called it,”The Staggering Bullshit of the Secret.” (http://j.mp/2svdbLL.) I’m not a real fan of the positive thinking movement, as a lot of it seems to whitewash the harsh realities of life. I believe I write as a way to process the ample amount of real emotional realities I’ve tried to deny over the years, I don’t need help with that.
Basically Eyeore and Tigger both annoy me to no end. There’s got to be a middle ground between “it could be worse, not sure how but it could be” and “turn that frown upside down.” Damned Eyeore only sees the burdens, so he struggles constantly. Tigger focuses on the blessings but whitewashes the burdens.
So yes, our attitudes about various things do have an impact. They just don’t control reality.
And, like Mark said, “…at some point, you actually have to, you know, do something…”
I think back to that unsuccessful toddler parenting day and many more where plans went awry and I started to come unglued. Geez, I still forget my own advice when trying to awaken a 14-year-old for a time-sensitive appointment!
But when kids are involved, plans need to be held with a loose grip. Extra built-in time is essential for all trips, even across town. What parent hasn’t, at some point, been waylaid by a poopy diaper, or car sickness vomit, or a bloody nose? Later on it could be a forgotten book, a missing key, lunch money, gas…
One thing I forgot was to build in time for the Mom. Any girl would go batty if she’s on-call 24/7. We all need rejuvenating time.
I do know some people who expect the worst and are pleasantly surprised when things go well. I just can’t go there. I don’t have the emotional capacity to consider all the gloom and doom that is possible in daily life. Yeah, life is hard, but isn’t it supposed to have joy as well?
My middle ground suggestion is to have an awareness that life can turn on a dime, and a deeper awareness that life is more precious because of the people involved in it. Whether they fuck up our plans or not.
I have a theory that the best things in life are also usually the hardest. Being a parent for one. Staying committed in relationships. Holding to a set of personal values. Finding and doing fulfilling work. Shoot, even planning a good meal can be a pain in the ass, but it’s usually worth it. That’s right, it’s worth it. All the people, places and things in our individual lives that are “worth it” to us, will cost us.
Here’s where the attitude comes in. Remembering that it’s worth it. Making a conscious choice to experience the blessings side of all the things that come with burdens. Recognize the burden aspect. Learn and grow and change from dealing with burdens. Yet, that child, that partner, that job, that friend. . . we must fight the stress and allow ourselves to experience them as blessings, not burdens.
My friend was right, it’s not easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.