Wednesday, May 27

Expecting the Unexpected

When I last held an office job we had a professional organizer come to give us some much-needed help. Really, the place made me itchy when i started.  I'm not extremely organized but I like to have a good system in place and for many aspects of my job, there wasn't one.  

She wasn't supposed to come visit with me because I was hired after she'd signed the contract, but in the end she decided it would be best. So I sat down with her one morning and she asked me about my day and how I structured it.  I began explaining what I did and how I did it and she had some suggestions, but told me that I already had a decent system in place for lots of things.  She called me forward-thinking. 

I'd never had a word for it before.  I'm not highly organized but I like to be able to anticipate what's going to happen and how I'm going to deal with it in advance. I don't like to be caught off guard. 

I've gotten much more flexible since I got married. You thought I was going to say, since I had kids, but before kids there was Josh. You see, my husband doesn't plan ahead. It's generally why he's late a lot. He never has and he's getting a little better, but for the most part, he still doesn't. 

We would take day trips, when we were first married. We'd start driving and Josh would have a vague idea of something he wanted to see, but no real idea of what he wanted to do or when he wanted to be back. At first it drove me crazy. We once ended up camping next to a bear preserve (something we didn't discover until morning) because we just started driving and decided to camp some random place on the Appalachian Trail. We got some good pictures and we didn't see a bear, but if I'd been in charge of things we would have stayed in a nice campground with running water and no risk of mauling.

I have to admit that he's been really good for me. In fact, while I find him eternally frustrating, I think God sent him to me on purpose. Josh was just preparing me for children.

When you have kids, you cannot plan ahead. You can be as forward-thinking as you like, but I guarantee that one day they will manage to come up with something that you never could have planned for. It might be something as creative as biting their lip bad enough to need stitches, or breaking their collarbone (two things we've both done in the last year) or something as mundane as pooping out of their clothes in a restaurant and having to bathe them in the tiny sink because There. Is. POOP. Everywhere. 

Francis Chan said, "
I am convinced God uses our children to cleanse us from self-centeredness." Preach it, Brother Chan, for that is the truth! I am currently sitting in the floor to type this. I've built a barricade of pillows to keep my almost 7-month-old child from unplugging the power cord because my battery is almost dead. In a few weeks, this barricade will be worthless because she will simply climb over or around. It is also 6:30 in the morning. Not a time I generally like to see, but my baby has decided that it's time to be awake and her fussing was going to wake Josh and the kids. I'll make coffee when I get all of this out and we'll get the day started. It won't be that long until the biggun's get up anyway. What's funny is that the thing I sort of resented in Josh is the thing I forgive easily in my children. I get frustrated, but I move on. "Oh well," I say, as though it's not making me as itchy as the disorganized chaos of that office job. 

And I notice that I've said, "oh well..." to Josh as well. It gets easier to be forgiving as we get older and we start to realize that we're all flawed and we're all a little self-centered, and it's not actually about any one person at all. 

I've been trying to teach this to my kids, lately. "It's not just about what you want." I say. And the words echo back to me from decades ago when my mother tried to teach it to me. 

Look, Mom! I'm 35, but I get it now!

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