Our culture loves certainty. We love being right. We idolize right answers, and demonize those who can’t give clear, definitive right answers. Too wishy-washy. Too waffly.
When I was a student, I strived for right answers. Right answers meant success. The world seemed simple, because grades mattered most and I didn’t know enough yet to understand that that’s not true. As a mom, I get it now.
I’d love to say that I would’ve figured out the meaning of life had I not become a mother.
Maybe I would have, but the chaos my children invited me into was something I wouldn’t have been brave enough to choose on my own. (That’s not to say that I have found THE meaning of life, but my own way forward.) As it goes with life, she sends the lessons you didn’t know you needed.
I used to be the kind of person that lined up drinking glasses in the cupboard by size and type. Someone who wouldn’t engage in activities if I wasn’t already good at them. (Spoiler: that’s kind of self-defeating.) A person who couldn’t stand their hair touching their face. Order and certainty ruled my days. I took only certain kinds of risks.
Along came the littles and all of that changed.
Not only do they love to play with my hair, there are never any glasses in the cupboard. They’re all in Gavin’s room. I’ve had to abandon my need for order and certainty so we (I) didn’t sponateously combust. Lately, I challenged myself to let them see me being bad (but having fun) at things, so they see that it’s ok. (I’m taking voice lessons, and I’m not fantastic.)
But there’s something else.
When your children don’t progress with typical measures, whether faster or slower, bigger or smaller, the culture – and our own resulting internal bias – approaches them as problems. They are not fitting into the scale of childhood certainty that’s been documented through time as what’s supposed to happen. Something’s wrong. It’s our job to fix it.
If your child isn’t thriving, you carry the weight of judgement and difference. No matter the reason, and no matter if anyone ever says anything explicitly to you that you should carry the weight, you just do.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
The fears creep in: Something’s wrong and they’ll never be ok. Something’s wrong and it’s all my fault. If only I would’ve done this or that, if only, if only, if only. There must be an answer, a solution, to this problem.
And the searching begins.
There’s nothing wrong with searching. I scoured the internet for articles and information when my boys were young. We all do. I mean, we have to at least check for an easy solution, right? There’s nothing wrong with that. What if there was one and we missed it?
All approaches yield results, but I’d like to offer a different approach than the certainty hoped for in solving the puzzle. Your children are a mystery. Just as YOU are a mystery.
We are not puzzles to be solved, but mysteries unfolding.
Each new challenge and triumph develops us into the beautiful, complex humans we are intended to be. There is no certainty here. Only trust.
We can’t completely know how everything is going to turn out. Shit goes wrong. Kids live in basements when they’re older. (Years like 2020 happen!) Many of us have wondered if our kids will end up in prison.
Most likely, your children will thrive. If you’re reading this far, you’re interested in new perspectives and learning. While I don’t have the ‘right’ answer, I know the mystery approach is healthier for all. And more fun.
If you’re a mystery, there will always be surprises. Life provides clues leading to growth and happiness rather than pieces that must fit into a particular shape. As I’m sure you’ve seen in your parenting (or life) journey thus far, some pieces fit for a while and then everything changes again. In the mystery model, those pieces and solutions can shift and still be worthy. We don’t have to throw them away completely or feel like we’ve wasted time.
Beware of the impulse to find a solution.
For yourself or for your children. There will be go-to tips and tricks for any situation. There will always be knowledge that helps navigate uncertainty. You and your child are one of a kind. The tips and tricks may not fit 100%.
The mystery approach asks:
- What if this exists to teach me something?
- What if things aren’t as they seem?
- What if scales and measures aren’t measuring anything meaningful?
- What if we trusted everything would work out in the end, and choose actions that created the most loving, playful, and fascinating ride along the way?
As a coach, I help open a door to possibility. To show how shifting your mindset toward mystery allows your child (and you) to be a perfectly imperfect human without anything wrong.
Kids are fascinating, intelligent, and creative souls who need some help expressing themselves. Our love of certainty and right answers doesn’t them. As I get older, I realize again and again that fitting in, getting the right answers, and staying too close to certainty leads to a very boring, lackluster life.
The right answer doesn’t give us the life we want.
If you find yourself spinning in circles, awash in research, or seeking more joy in your journey, give me a call. Set up a free consult call here. It’s a no pressure chance to chat and envision what could be.