Why do we tend to think we need to change overnight? We do we insist on expecting ourselves to wake up and be a totally renewed person simply because we decided to become one as we went to bed the night before?
I discover a few exercises, think they look quick and manageable, and the next day I check to see how my pants fit and I haven’t even done any of the exercises I discovered.
That’s unrealistic, to say the least. But we do things similar when we expect ourselves to just snap into new ways of behaving or new outlooks. We consider our attempts as failures rather than what they are…
I’m thinking about this today because we A. bought school supplies for the kids and B. dropped off my daughter at day camp (don’t worry – we picked her up at the end of the day).
These incremental steps toward independence — this allowing of our children to be away from us for long periods of time — are often good for them. They are also often a real act of faith, especially if there are any health needs for the kids. It’s hard enough if your child is of an uncomplicated health scenario; it’s a whole different experience when there are significant risks to factor in.
For example, my daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. That means (among other things) she’s insulin dependent, and for every meal, snack, or treat she has to count out carbohydrates and administer insulin accordingly. Since my husband and I want to take that responsibility for as long as we can (she’ll handle it the rest of her life so we’ll do it when she’s a child), that means WE count the carbs and administer the insulin accordingly.
That also means that any time she’s away from us, someone else has to take on that responsibility.
This week, that’s the good folks at Camp Daypoint, a day camp specifically for kids with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
Remember how we were talking now about incremental steps? Yeah, those are hard.
After an entire year of carrying her bag of T1D “equipment” (and trust me, there’s plenty of equipment) to and from everything with us, including everything from bike rides to sledding, basketball to swimming, I left her at day camp without her bag.
She didn’t need it.
They provide everything she needs for managing her T1D.
They would take care of her.
It’s a good step torward greater independence both for her and for us as her parents.
It’s a pretty significant, and yet incremental, first step.
I got to thinking that this is a lot like sending your kids off to school.
You can think this is a great idea, it’s the best thing for them, it’s a good step toward greater independence and self-actualization (psychobabble and all that child development mumbo-jumbo), but When the times comes to put that kindergartener on the bus, it seems like the worst planned out plan you ever heard of. Who sends these tiny human on an enormous metal death trap THAT HAS NO SEAT BELTS on a highway with a speed limit that’s just clearly meant to mimic the environment of NASCAR, to a place where they do not allow Nanny Cams/Go-Pros that will equip us to supervise their interactions? What if they don’t wash their hands? What if they use someone else’s comb? What if they climb UP the slide when clearly playground protocol is to only go DOWN the slide?
And now they want us to send these tiny humans there all day long, even as kindergarten tiny humans, children who were, let’s be honest, just moments away from their initial entry into the world? Infants, I tell you, infants!
We get through it. Maybe with tears and more wine than is advisable, but we do it. Why?
Because it is the significant incremental step we must take.
That doesn’t make it easy, that doesn’t mean we’re good at it. We just have to do the thing.
Maybe we’ll get better at it over time, maybe not. We just have to keep trying.
Good luck, all you parents of the world. We’ll get through this, and I’ve heard tales of people actually enjoying it. Maybe we’ll be those people someday.
The point is, we could all use more grace as we travel through life. Grace toward others, grace torward ourselves. The older I get, the more I realize how much grace and long-suffering was extended to me without my knowledge. That makes me want to do the same for all those other know-it-alls who, like I did, think they’ve got a bead on the “right” way to think/act/speak etc.
I hope that as I take my own incremental steps, I’ll learn to be grace-filled toward my attempts, no matter how small.