Inexperience as a gift


Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.Samuel Butler

Last night I needed to edit a video and since my IT department (i.e., Billy) had a speaking gig, I was forced into the land of iMovie on my own. iMovie is a video editing program and about as easy a tool as you could hope for, if you have time to play.

Unfortunately, I had to make dinner. Play wasn't on the agenda.

Still, I know enough to survive,  I told myself.  The process isn't pretty, but I'll dig deep after I nourish my kids.

So I quickly whip up some Huevos Rancheros (spicy food helps my creative process) and then jump into editing mode. Imagine writing a term paper, in long hand, with a dull pencil, with your left hand, with Billy Ray Cyrus on repeat, and you'll be close to the tedium level of my skills.

Fortunately things turned when my daughter engaged me in a little friendly banter about my work day in general.  I told her I was feeling behind and not feeling very skilled at the job in front of me.  I was tired, I explained, but I still had things to do.  She asked if I was going to have time to play a game with her or if I needed to work.

Ugh. I hated the question.  With a little guilt in my voice I said,

"No, I don't have to work exactly, but I'm doing a creative project and I have to edit a video." "OH!" she said, eyes lighting up, "I LOVE editing. Can I do it with you? "

God knows what you need precisely when you need it.

Suddenly what felt like a tension to "balance" my interests with the needs of my family turned into an opportunity to blend them together.  Both of my kids pulled up to the kitchen table, and we did the editing work as a group.  My daughter "drove" while I made content decisions. My son made silly voices. We laughed at our mistakes and played funny parts repeatedly.  The final product wasn't stellar, but the evening was outstanding.

Aside from the obvious shock that my 10-year-old can edit video so quickly, what sticks with me is how my evening changed NOT because I did an outstanding job of parenting, but because there was a CONVERSATION about my challenges and limitations. If we hadn't talked about where I was feeling pressed, I would never have known how close my solution was.

I don't talk to my kids nearly enough about when I feel depleted. So many days I'm tempted to blow past them, barking orders for what I want. I push for efficiency, forward progress, or movement of any kind.  Last night reminded me this is a mistake. Instead, I need to engage, explain, and be transparent with the people closest to me.

Many times, they are the perfect source of encouragement.