Parenting is … accepting that only half of what you plan will actually happen.

Posted on January 12, 2020

It’s 12 days into the year, and I’m buried in planning and preparing for the launch of my upcoming Mindful Teacher Training online course. Back in early September, when I started recording the video portion, the launch date was set for November 15, right before Thanksgiving. We ran into a few glitches, so we moved the goal to December 15. When my mom’s knee surgery was unexpectedly scheduled for December 12, I went to take care of her knowing that things would get pushed out a bit more—which they did. Then came the holidays and flu season. My team and I are now aiming for February 15.

I’ve always been a stickler for deadlines. I like to accomplish things by my target dates. After all, if you don’t hold yourself accountable for the completion of projects, how will your business plans and strategies come to fruition? So this morning I asked myself why was I not frustrated or stressed about this delay? Why have I been so “accepting” of these unforeseen happenings? I’m certainly noticing a shift in my response to life. I could only smile as I realized the answer.

While planning my daughter’s wedding, I had turned to the Serenity Prayer every time I hit a roadblock: May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. I repeated this so many times that I think that I’ve now programmed myself to respond with these few simple words whenever things don’t go as expected.

Come to think of it, when does life go exactly as expected? We plan and prepare for almost everything—our children’s activities, meals, school, work, projects, birthdays. But if I look back at all the things that I’ve planned for my children and ask myself what percentage of it actually went as anticipated, what do you think the answer is? Are you ready for this? Just 50 percent!

And, no, that does not mean that one should put in just 50 percent effort, because then you’ll accomplish only 25 percent of what you set out to do. Even worse, in your heart you’ll know you did not give it your all. That will simply add a layer of guilt, and who needs that? Isn’t there enough of it in parenting as it is?

So when you send your kids back to school this week, do plan to get their backpacks and lunches ready the night before, and aim to get up a little earlier so you can wake them up a few minutes earlier, too. We all know what a struggle it is to go back to school or return to our regular routine after breaks.

Most importantly, If things don’t go as expected, and you are late getting the kids to school for a day or two, or they forget a book or a homework assignment, or cannot go to sleep on time, remember that the most important struggle dissolver, challenge solver, connection builder, and empathy booster is knowing, accepting, and living the fact that only half of what you plan will actually go the way it’s supposed to! So be patient, kind, and compassionate. Nothing is more important than your relationship with your kids. Don’t let your imaginary world full of expectations get in the way of that.