Sometimes Life Laughs at your Little Plans (an example from my life)
A big point that came out of the discussions on habits and how to break bad ones was the notion of flexibility. The fact is, if you want to be happy and satisfied in life, you have to be comfortable with the idea that even if you have planned things to go one way, you don’t control everything and you might have to adjust.
Adjusting means recognizing new opportunities–ones you never could have foreseen–and having the courage to explore them. It means dealing with hardships and not letting them get the better of you. It means accepting unforeseen challenges and events as new adventures.
I got a reminder of that in a big way recently. When I first defined the self-styled life, a few readers commented that one of the most freeing, non-traditional decisions they made was not to have children. But as it happens, the Universe is pushing me in a different direction–into a different box, one that does include kids!
Yup, my husband and I are expecting a little one at the end of September! It was not part of our “plan” (what crazy people would quit their jobs, sell their house, move to a new city, open a new business and have a kid all at the same time?!), but now that the shock has mostly worn off, we are very excited.
But it was really a huge shock. We had begun to imagine what our lives might look like without children, though I think deep down we both knew that at some point we would. But the turmoil of the last few years–losing my sister, other family illnesses and feeling like we hadn’t quite gotten to a point we’d like to be professionally–had us putting off the notion of kids indefinitely. I mean, when I go to IKEA, I can spend hours in the kitchens and bedrooms, but I literally walk straight through the kid’s section. Babies were not on our mind.
So to find myself pregnant was … difficult. Certainly, my initial reaction wasn’t unequivocal joy. Then of course the nervousness, the regret, the uncertainty brought on a lot of guilt. So many couples are actively trying to get pregnant, and here I was not feeling overjoyed.
But I meditate on my mother’s advice that too many people our age are forever waiting for things to be “perfect” before starting a family. And the truth is–it will never be perfect and you’ll never feel completely prepared, even if a family is something you want. So I’m going with the advice that things have a way of working out, even if that way is unclear at the moment.
And now, with the reality sinking in and the support and enthusiasm of our family and friends, we are genuinely excited. In fact, I just might head to IKEA on my day off tomorrow to spend some time among the cribs and plush toys (the kid’s section is, after all, right near the food–so I can also enjoy the smell of Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce while lingering over high chairs).
And I must say, it feels good to come clean with my readers. I feel like I’ve been sneaking around all this time! While neighbours have truly been keeping us up, and I probably have allowed myself to be more lazy than I could be, part of my challenge in keeping a schedule, finding motivation and writing regularly is also the fact that I’ve been growing a baby!
But there are a few disclaimers to go along with this post:
1. the self-styled life will NOT become a pregnancy/mommy blog. While there’s nothing wrong with these, that’s not what I started out to do here. I will, obviously, occasionally be talking about my pregnancy and baby, but I promise not to let these dominate!
2. (and more importantly) I realize that my baby ambivalence might make some people feel uncomfortable. After all, babies are a good thing, so the normal reaction to pregnancy and babies is that unequivocal joy. Moreover, many couples struggling with infertility or who have experienced painful losses would be overjoyed to be in my shoes. But the reality is that starting a family is a big deal, and scary, even for those who planned it. So I don’t want to sound insensitive, but I do want to be totally honest, as I’ve always tried to be here. I know I’m not alone in my feelings and I hope that my honesty might be helpful to other moms and dads-to-be who feel like us! But my honesty goes both ways, and when I say we are really excited, it’s the truth!
Thanks, if you’ve made it to the end of this very long post… (sorry ’bout that)
Any fun stories of unexpected events that changed your life?