Over the past couple of years I've encountered some parenting moments that seem to have come from left field. Or at least it feels that way.
I'm not talking about the tantrums.
Or the glimpses of the hormones that seem to emerge at the onset of the tween years. Or even the friendship woes and homework. (Ha, and I thought my homework days ended when I finished school!) Or the fact that my 3-year-old seems to have lost her "listening ears."
Those are the things I expected or at least came to terms with because they just happen—they're what kids do and are common among children everywhere. They weren't necessarily things that I prepared for, but they also weren't enough to cause me to lose my footing, send me on an excursion to find a great parenting book or schedule a session with a counselor. A good Google search and phone call with a friend to find a sense of camaraderie was usually enough.
Whether you're in your best season yet or you're retracing that last play wondering where you went wrong, keep showing up.
But then there were the unexpected milestones and moments and the occasionally questionable hand of cards we have been dealt. These are the occurrences that leave us scared, worried, unprepared and unequipped. They leave us standing there in shock or at the very least confused. It's like I'm living the life of a parent on a TV drama minus the perfect ending. Even real life is filled with cliffhangers.
Still, I've stayed in the game knowing that it's OK if I haven't figured out our game plan yet. It's OK if I'm not sure how to handle the unexpected. It's OK if I stand on the sidelines catching my breath for a minute, knowing eventually I'd muster enough strength to get back in there.
There have also been days when I just wanted to observe because I felt under-qualified for this role. It's almost as if I had become too confident and suddenly dropped the ball, or after trying and trying I was out of energy and void of a game plan. These were the days that I was grateful no one was watching because they might see the same thing I saw:
I hadn't the slightest clue what I was doing.
I had been caught off guard by a ball that came out of left field, a parenting challenge that no one told me about. Therefore, I wasn't prepared.
How did I miss that one? How did I drop the ball? How could I let my team (family and friends) down?
I studied child development in college.
I worked at a child care center.
I've been in the trenches of motherhood for more than 10 years.
These unanticipated moments are the ones in which we rise, innovate and trudge on.
But that's what life does. It throws curve balls and sends stuff spiraling at us from out of left field. It humbles us and reminds us that we still have much to learn about the game—about our children, one another and ourselves.
But curve balls also allow you to see where you excel and what you have to offer your team. We all have something valuable to offer our babies. Even in the most trying moments what we have to offer is not lost.
And whether you're in your best season yet or you're retracing that last play wondering where you went wrong, keep showing up.
Whether the crowd's going wild or they've stopped rooting—please stay in the game. I don't think our kids expect us to never mess up or drop the ball. They just expect us to never give up on them, to be there no matter what. They need to be able to count on that. On us.
The challenges of motherhood ensure that we don't journey through life void of grace.
They keep us humble and compassionate.
They inspire those who are getting ready to get in the game themselves.
They keep us on our toes, knowing that something we weren't prepared for could come at any moment. We learn to be grateful for the mundane, the predictable, the same old same old. We learn to see the beauty in it. We learn to take chances because some chances are worth taking, even if things don't go as planned. We learn to do the hard work we are called to do, knowing that it will be some of our greatest.
And they help us to remember the value of a team. We aren't meant to do this alone.
When the left field moments come, I look up. I look within and I look to my team, my people—sometimes through glassy eyes. They remind me of my why, the reason I do what I do.
An unexpected occurrence isn't the end or a burden. It's a blessing. Sometimes growth hurts, but these unanticipated moments are the ones in which we rise, innovate and trudge on. Most often these are the moments when our kids are paying the most attention, hopefully discovering that it is possible for them to do the same.