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There are Expectations…Then There is Reality

messy-toddler
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

 

We settle for “less” out of necessity at times…but is it really less? In accepting the ways we fall short of our daily goals, while still finding a way to keep moving, don’t we teach our children to do the same?

 

by Heidi Indahl

 

I was scrolling through my newsfeed earlier this week when I stumbled across a gem.

Intentional-FamilyI’ve got max 30 minutes till Judah wakes up starving, no one is even remotely close to finishing their co-op work, my coffee is cold and I have no plan for lunch or dinner.  But praise the Lord I get to spend all day with these 5 crazy people, coffee can be replaced with a Dr Pepper, school can be caught up next week and PBJ sandwiches are a household favorite.

Isn’t that just the truth of parenting summed up in one little nugget? We have all these things we need to do (or think we need to do) but then life gets messy in the in between.

In my third trimester of my second pregnancy in as many years my body is just not doing everything I’d like it to do right now. Some days it is all I can do to stay upright until my husband is home from his own busy day to rescue me. Maybe it’s not me he is rescuing, but our five kids…I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that.

We settle for “less” out of necessity at times…but is it really less? In accepting the ways we fall short of our daily goals, while still finding a way to keep moving, don’t we teach our children to do the same?  Doesn’t demonstrating persistence, in fact, teach persistence? I think it does.

Imagine a world full of adults who accept their own shortcomings and the shortcomings of those around them while always still working to do the best they can in any given situation.  Imagine adults who understand that falling short the first time doesn’t mean you can’t still reach for your goals?

Real deal family life prepares children for the real deal world. Scientific break throughs don’t happen every day, instead there are months and months of setting goals and falling short and failed experiments. Making adjustments and changes. Continual re-crafting of methods, ideas, and hypothesis. Gifted artists, authors, and musicians do not achieve fame the first time they attempt their craft.

Sometimes as parents we forget to talk about the messiness that lies somewhere between our expectations for each day and the reality we fall asleep to that night. I know, for me, I worry that others will see me in a lesser light if I’m too honest about how any given day might go. I also worry about the casually dropped “Well why do you homeschool (or have some many kids, or whatever) then?” comments.

The truth is, yes, we did choose this life. We choose to be open to life in whatever ways that God will gift us with it. In choosing this life, we are embracing the ideals and the goals and also the messiness that comes with falling short of those same ideals and goals. That means that we will set high standards for ourselves and for our family, but it also means that we will rely heavily on the graces of married and family life (and the blessings of honest friends) to get us through the days that make it feel like our goals will never come to fruition.

Some days that means passing the peanut butter and jelly and breaking out the Dr. Pepper.

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Heidi has a professional background in education, with a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design. In her spare time she enjoys taekwondo, gardening, knitting, and the occasional freelance writing or consulting job. She blogs about her Catholic family life at www.workandplaydaybyday.com

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