I went for a walk with my good friend recently, and as we climbed the wet trail up the wooded hills, we caught up on life. We chatted through what was going on with each of our kids, (there are eight between us.) Like me, her kids span a wide age range, and hers are also spread among a variety of school settings: From private, to public, to homeschooling–she has it all covered.
I asked her how her family was navigating one kid’s activities, which I knew was challenging, and probably a bit overwhelming. She smiled and said, “Ya know, we’ve never done this before.” She paused, then added “But…we’re doing our best, and I know it’ll get better.” It was both an exclamation and confession…a refreshing declaration of humility and faith. And as she spoke those words I felt a little weight lift off my own shoulders as well.
“We’ve never done this before.”
I loved the sound of it. She wasn’t trying to pretend to have it all figured out. Nor did she seem anxious or stressed. Instead she seemed at peace and full of grace to face this season.
I immediately thought of some of our family’s firsts, and how I most often beat myself up over them.
–It is Josiah’s senior year now, and since we home school, I had planned on signing him up for a couple of community college classes this year. When we went online to fill out the application back in June, we found out that homeschoolers had to go through an early sign-up process–back in April. No exceptions. I felt so bad. Of course something else ended up working out (even better — yay!) but only after I beat myself up good for being lame and missing the sign up.
Indeed, I could give you lists of all of my self-proclaimed #momfails because I personally missed a memo, didn’t see something coming, or just didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
I don’t know why it is we moms (all people really, but moms are experts at this) are so hard on ourselves. We imagine we ought to be great at things before we’ve even started. We get embarrassed when we don’t know it all, and then feel pressure to pretend that we do. You might know what I’m talking about…
—If you got married and expected it would be easy from the start.
—If you’ve had a baby and imagined you should immediately (and very naturally) be the best mom ever. (not to mention have your pre-baby body back...like instantly.)
—If you’ve moved somewhere new, or started a new job, and just like that–expected to fit in, make friends, succeed, and be amazing at it all.
—If you’ve been caught off guard in parenting, and beat yourself up for not knowing the perfect words to say without fumbling (or swearing or crying).
Where did we get this idea? Last time I checked: it takes time to figure things out. And also: life is hard. What if we were all a little more patient and honest — with ourselves and with each other?
This reminds me of the story my parents have told me about when they brought their firstborn, my oldest brother, to his first pediatrician appointment. They were young and nervous and when the doctor asked them how it was going they admitted, “We don’t really know what we’re doing. We’ve never had a kid before.”
The kind pediatrician smiled and assured them, “It’s ok. He’s never had parents before.”
Because we are all facing firsts, aren’t we?
We’ve got kids facing new things: schools, sports and hormones. First pimples or first fight with a friend. They have their first period, first prom, first midterms, and first time going away to camp. And boy do kids need to hear that it’s ok to be feel a little overwhelmed by it all. In fact, sometimes what kids need to hear most is: “It’s ok. You’ve never done this before. I promise it’ll get easier…”
As adults we are facing our own firsts, even if less obvious: We have new jobs and new friends, too. There is the first time staying home with a baby, and the first time going back to work…The first time facing an illness, or facing life without a parent. We might be learning to live with pain or with hormones out of whack. There are new seasons financially and in marriage. And eventually there is that season of being…empty nesters. (I just can’t…even.)
Really, life is a big series of adapting to new things. If it isn’t one thing, then it’s something else. I’d be happy if I could even keep up with the latest trends… By the time I finally figure out how to tuck my shirt in the right way, I know there’ll be a new way to tuck. (And please tell me Mason Jars are still cool because I just bought another whole set.)
You see, I used to think there were two schools of people: the ones who have it all together, and walk around really confident about their every move. They give quick, firm answers and never seem to doubt. The other group is the people who seem really unsure all of the time. They second-guess their every move and walk around with the deer-in-the-headlights-look most of the time.
Now I’m beginning to believe that we’re really all pretty unsure most of the time.
The second group might just be a little more honest about things.
So I think it’s safe to say, we are all just a work in progress. And maybe that’s not something to be ashamed of. Maybe we can learn to take ourselves a bit less seriously…enjoy our differences and our imperfections and enjoy each other more, too?
I’m wondering if anyone besides me could use a big dose of grace right about now? Grace to not be an expert. Grace to fumble a little and make some mistakes along the way. Grace to not have a Pinterest perfect house or garden or life because you’ve been a little busy and you weren’t watching when everyone else turned way eco friendly or paleo or hipster or just so gosh darned put together. Grace to tuck wrong, (or maybe not tuck at all) and grace to call a friend and cry because you fumbled in your job or totally overreacted at your kid, or you didn’t know how to handle something because…Well, you’ve just never done this before.
Maybe we can extend a bit more grace to our kids and our spouses and (maybe most of all) ourselves.
Then think of a friend that could really use some grace right now and reach out to say: “You know what? It’s ok…You’ve never done this before. But you’re doing your best. and…it will get easier.“
Because: Yes, it will.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Maybe you have your own story of being new or awkward or just needing a little more grace in this crazy world…Your story might encourage someone else, and you’re surely in good company here. 😉
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