Has parenting blindsided you?
Ever felt blindsided by parenting?
Perhaps you can relate to this quote by Anna Quindlin:
"The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous."
Take a look at the picture to the right.
We were visiting my parents in California and trying to take a large family group picture. I had to put my son on my shoulders both to save space and to contain his energy. He decided to take out his "containment" by pulling on my hair.
Believe it or not, I'm actually doing a good job of hiding my real displeasure in the picture. I had NO idea how I could be so easily spun around by a nine-month-old kid!
Parenting demands notoriously knock mothers (and fathers, I assume...) for a loop. No one is fully ready for the requirements, the shift in priorities, the crazy amounts of laundry, and the steady diet of Goldfish.
The quote above made me think about the word blindside; a powerful idea which freedictionary.com defines thus:
2. Thesideawayfromwhichone is directingone'sattention.
If you apply this word to parenting, you can see the truth of the quote.
The way I see it, parenting blindsides us because 1) we don't have eyes in the back of our heads, or, 2) we are distracted by something else. (Instagram, I'm looking at you!)
In other words, since we are all physically ill-equipped to handle our parenting jobs and as no one pays attention perfectly, we are all going to be blindsided at some point.
This truth shouldn't be discouraging so much as it should act as a reset for our expectations. Denial won't help us overcome this shortfall, so we need to acknowledge and deal with it directly.
To avoid being "flabbergasted," we have to develop a strategy for dealing with what we don't see, or, more precisely, we have to cultivate insight and seek wisdom.
For me, wisdom mostly comes from having a community of people who are further down the parenting road and THRIVING. These are the parents who have hit the veritable "home run" or grabbed the "brass ring" or at least landed a Golden Globe for their roles as parents. These are the people I talk to at length. I ask them about their "surprise" parenting experiences, and I take notes.
I'm not kidding. I write down what they say.
What does the big win look like?
Mostly, it looks imperfect.
It looks like parents who have fought battles and survived with their relationships intact. It resembles those who have worked through disagreements and discouragement and found the effort worthwhile. It seems to be a relentless conversation about who, what, when, where, and why an issue needs to be addressed.
Of course a real parenting win isn't about whether or not they are patient when their hair is being pulled out of their head. (I get a pass on that, right?) And it's certainly not defined by social media output or by where things stand in the high school years.
Nope. All of these things are poor measurements for what's really happening in families. Seeing grown children proactively seeking to spend time with their parents is the closest thing I've found to a report card
Oh yes. That's what I want.
I want to surround myself with people who have those types of relationships.
As strategies go, maybe this is too simplistic, but it doesn't feel easy. I'm open to learning other approaches if you got 'em!
What do you do to avoid being blindsided?