Today’s post is by Heidi Smith Luedtke, aka the psychologist next door and author of Detachment Parenting: 33 Ways to Keep Your Cool When Kids Melt Down. If you know me, you know I have a thing for psychology. I’m always reading pyschology-related books and like to study the motivation behind what we do. So Heidi’s writing always resonates with me. Heidi has helped so many parents navigate parent-child relationships and issues. I’m thrilled to have her share with us today. I hope you’re as encouraged by Heidi’s grateful attitude toward the less-than-perfect way in which accomplishing our goals happens in family life.
(Remember to leave a comment or subscribe to enter the drawing. And don’t forget to check out Heidi’s other posts this week at Christa’s blog on Wednesday, and her own blog on Thursday). Here’s Heidi:
I have to admit: If I had things my way, I’d plan most of the details of my life. But as a military spouse, I’m subject to an out-of-control schedule. With very little notice, my husband can be asked to work extra hours (or days!), deploy to a war zone or move our family cross-country or overseas.
Since my real life doesn’t always work according to plan, I’ve learned to take an opportunistic approach to the items on my bucket list, such as “Run a Marathon in Under 4 Hours” and “Catch a Tuna Bigger than Me.” Instead of waiting for all the stars to line up in support of my dreams, I take advantage of opportunities that arise, even when the timing isn’t perfect. Because in my life, the timing is never perfect.
I could give lots of examples.
In November of 2010, 6 months after I had my daughter, I ran the Philadelphia marathon. Without really training for it. I ran it because I had signed up in a fit of post-partum optimism about getting back in shape. And because my husband offered to drive me to the starting line in the middle of the night with two little kids in the backseat and wait with them for 5 hours while I waited for my chance to cross the starting line and gutted my way to the finish line 26-miles later.
Doing the marathon – well-trained or not – was a way to celebrate my healthy baby, strong body, and devoted family. I missed my goal by a measly 10 minutes, but I was proud that I ran the whole way. And at the finish line I was reminded what really matters when my 3-year-old stole my post-race banana and asked me to carry him (uphill!) to the car. The race we call motherhood is really never-ending.
I’m pursuing the “Tuna Bigger than Me” with the same kind of unplanned abandon. One Tuesday this September my husband got the wild idea we should book a fishing charter off the coast of Maryland. By Friday we had flown in family members from out of state and scheduled an overnight sitter for our 3-year-old, who is too little to cope with a 12-hour boat ride.
The timing wasn’t perfect. The tuna were mostly gone for the season and the captain told me it was unlikely we’d catch any. But it didn’t really matter.
That day I got to help my 6-year-old son catch his first white marlin – a 70-lb., 7-foot long beauty that flashed brilliant shades of blue and yellow as he jumped from the water. And I caught an 8-foot long marlin myself. We also cheered for family members who hauled in a fish box full of mahi mahi and brought home lots of fish to eat.
My son told me he’s sorry I didn’t get to catch my dream fish that day but I’m not so sad about it. Because – when you chase your dreams with the people you love – the pursuit is the prize.