Maybe you have heard this like I have: “I’m all about the journey.” I have had this said to me before and in years gone by I would nod sagely and say, “Yes. All about the journey. It’s not about the end. It’s about HOW you get there.” It sounded so, well, romantic, to be all about the journey even if I had no idea what that meant or looked like.
But there’s a problem – one that is becoming increasingly clear to me: I’m NOT all about the journey. In fact, I’m so not about the journey I would happily skip it just to get where I want to go. I am a self-avowed task-oriented, git-her-done, tick-it-off-the-list, drive-you-crazy kind of person. And I do! Drive you crazy, that is. At least I drive my poor husband crazy with my lists and my plans and my “just this last thing.” I can’t be happy until the job is done.
You probably can see where I’m going with this. Parenthood is, at least in my own very limited experience, all about the journey, all the time. I could make lists like “change diaper; make lunch; clean up lunch; play; nap; feed; clean up; play.” Seriously? Or the list could say, “Keep Judah alive today.” Or, better yet, “Keep Judah happy and keep myself sane.” Not bad, but not exactly catering to my tendency to organize my life and everyone else’s lives into neat little lists of tasks and achievements.
It’s becoming clear that I have to change myself on some fundamental and vitally important level. I have to become “all about the journey.” I have to re-center my energy and commitment to learning a person: a person who is not a list of jobs or a checklist to be completed by the end of the day; a person who has his own challenges, his own gifts, his own personality and whose parents have the mind boggling job of figuring out those challenges and gifts and personality. And I’m starting to get the feeling I’m never going to have it all figured out.
“Figure out parenting.”
All about the journey. Well, yes, I guess I have to be. So, now I tell myself that if, at the end of a long and tiring day, I know my son just a little bit better; if I understand him a little more; if I loved him at least as well as I could, then I can check the box on my list. The only thing is, tomorrow it’s the same list and the same box. “Love Judah.” (Maybe I should add something and make it a list of two: “Love Josh.”)
I have had it said to me a million (A MILLION) times, “Enjoy these early years. They go by so fast.” OK. So add that to the list. “Enjoy. Love. Change a diaper. Learn. Change another diaper.” If I can be all about the journey now, I’ll end up at the end of it probably wishing the box wasn’t ticked and the list wasn’t completed. But journey or not, it will be nice to be done with the diapers.