I am a planner. For me, it’s a control issue. I feel more secure when I know what’s going to happen. When I don’t know what’s going to happen, or when plans change, I have to guard myself against getting bent out of shape (flexibility does not come naturally to me). This aspect of my personality is one of the many areas of my life that has been tremendously challenged by motherhood.
The first time motherhood upset my plans was on my pursuit of motherhood, which didn’t come as easily to me as it does to most women. I had a timeframe in mind for becoming a mother, but I learned that the timing, and method of achieving motherhood, was completely out of my control. Impatience, another one of my less than admirable traits, made this a particularly hard pill to swallow.
When I was finally blessed with my miracle baby through adoption, my plans continued to go up in smoke on a daily basis. I love newborn babies, but they are not known for their predictability, and my son was no exception. Thankfully, he was a good sleeper at night.
During the day was another story. He also had an intense hatred of his carseat, which made it impossible to plan outings. After years of being single, followed by years of being married and childless, suddenly finding myself with no more than 30 minutes at a time to myself was a huge adjustment.
By the time my son was around a year old, his schedule was much more consistent and predictable. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that I was homefree when it came to planning and controlling my life. Yes, I was a dreamer, but my denial, or naivety, or whatever you want to call it, was short-lived. Toddlers, particularly those without siblings, need a social life. Facilitating a social life for a toddler means coordinating with other mothers, many of whom are not planners.
For the past three years, one of my biggest motherhood challenges has been arranging a social life for my son, who is an only child. There are very few stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood, so planning is an important component of this process. Even under the best of circumstances (which, for a planner like me, means coordinating with other planners), this gets tricky. Kids get sick, situations arise, plans change. Throw some non-planners into the mix (moms who are hard to pin down, not quick to check email, etc), and it gets even more complicated.
Thankfully, my son is much more flexible than his mother! I tend to make the mistake of telling him too far in advance about upcoming outings, playdates, etc. Then, when plans change, I have to not only guard against my own propensity to get bent out of shape, but I also have to find a way to break the news to him. But he’s a trooper.
He has taught me so much about how to roll with the punches and find a fun alternative when plans change. I don’t have any illusions that I’ll ever convert to the spontaneity camp, but thanks to motherhood, I am very slowly learning to accept the fact that things don’t have to fall apart just because I’m not in control.
Any other planners out there who struggle with this issue?
Claire is a regular contributor to Catholic Mothers Online.