“Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can.” – Arthur Ashe
As is always the case here at ParentalGrit, we begin the week with a booster shot of inspiration and motivation to get your week started off right. So grab a second or twelfth serving of caffeine, lean back, and let’s see where this week begins. I hope that your weekend was productive yet restful and you’re recharged for the workweek. However, if you’re reading this blog, you most likely have kids which means the weekend wasn’t productive, the fatigue is worse now than it was Friday, and Monday is coming on like a freight train while you sit unprepared. Such is the life of parenthood, no?
Parenthood tends to provide and promote a wide variety of moments where one can feel overwhelmed. It can be guilt (do I spend too much time hiding in the bathroom while my wife fends for herself?). It can be inadequacy (my neighbor’s Facebook feed is poppin’ with arts and crafts activity pictures). It might be fatigue (running a mile in four minutes is nothing compared to running a family on four minutes of sleep). It could be finances, a spousal relationship, or a wide variety of other stressors. Regardless of where the feelings of being overwhelmed come from, we know that correcting one issue will only inspire another. It’s parenting whack-a-mole, where slamming down one item makes another three suddenly appear. Pay down the credit card bill and a random fight with a spouse ensues. Take some needed time to yourself and feel guilty the kiddo nabs too much screen time.
Start where you are. If I had a dollar for every time I felt inadequate as a parent, then I would have hired someone else to write this blog while I chilled on the beach sipping something fruity and making fun of people who write blogs. Be content with the life you currently have and begin by taking inventory on where is the good and where is the struggle. It does not, however, matter where you currently are in your parenting journey so long as you can recognize where you’ve been, where you’re going, and where you want to end up. If the final destination isn’t clear, you’ll never get there. From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” said the cat.
“I don’t know” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter.”
Use what you have. It matters little what you might believe you don’t have, because the universal reality is that we’re all missing a little something (I think I’m personally missing a little everything but whatever). Nobody has everything, but everybody has something. So use what you know you have to take the next step forward. Your knowledge today is what will lead you to a greater knowledge tomorrow. Likewise, your actions today are what will determine how ambitious your actions tomorrow can be.
Do what you can. There are nightmare days when the only parental celebration I can sarcastically claim is that hey, my kids are alive, another successful day! Survival days, as I like to call them! I can imagine there are millions of parents who can relate to survival days, where the diaper exploded, the spouse ran away, the toddler erupted, and the house trashed itself while dinner burned. We just call that Tuesday in my house. Anyway, do what you can to take the next step forward. Nothing of value will ever come easy, so take the small step today and do what you can with what you have. Identify your goal, self-assess, and take it one step at a time.
Here’s hoping your Monday isn’t a survival day.