Parenthood is all about “Pantsing”

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pexels-photo-434446.jpegOnce, I was talking to a favorite uncle about life and all deep things. Because that’s what we do. (He’s a great uncle.) I said, “You know, when I was a kid, and something was bothering me, I’d think it through and make up my mind what to do about it, and that was it. I never questioned it again. Now, I never stop questioning things, no matter how many times I make up my mind.”

My uncle laughed. “Welcome to adulthood,” he said.

I was thinking about this last night as I listened to one of my children baring his soul about an experience that had hurt him deeply. It wasn’t a situation with a simple solution. He wasn’t at fault, but he was letting it get to him far more than was necessary or healthy. I told him what he had experienced was always going to be irritating—like mosquitoes you can’t escape—but he has a choice whether he opens up his heart and lets it hurt him down deep. Even though it doesn’t feel like he has a choice. That he feels things more deeply than other people do, and the first thing is to know that about himself.

A deep, heavy sigh. “Mom, I thought you’d be able to help me. Give me some advice or something that would help.”

Oohf. Speaking of opening up one’s heart and letting things hurt you down deep. This is not how a mom wants to be viewed by her child: as impotent. This is not how a mom wants to BE to her child.

Writers tend to split themselves into two camps: plotters and pantsers. (Those seem self-explanatory to me, but just in case: Plotters have a global plan in place before they embark on a novel; pantsers fly by the seat of their pants.) I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone reading this post that I’m a confirmed plotter. Without a plan I would have no idea which way to go. I would write 5,000 words and then hit a huge wall, because I wouldn’t know where to go. It’s too big a task.

That’s how I feel about life, too. I want a plan, a way to organize the things that are Too Big, the things that are Too Much For Me. This is how I deal with anxiety: by planning for contingencies. Even when plans A, B, and C get derailed, merely having thought through everything prepares me for flying by the seat of my pants.

Last night on our oh-so-romantic Valentine’s date at Denny’s, Christian and I were discussing parenthood, and we came to the realization that although we are plotters by nature, parenthood is really a game of pantsing. You’re totally making it up as you go along.

No wonder we all make such a mess of it.

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5 thoughts on “Parenthood is all about “Pantsing”

  1. Elaine Barreca

    It is only through the Grace of God that parents do anything. Planning is good. But we have to be open to God’s plan as we go. Sometimes our plans and God’s plans just do not jive.
    That’s when we rely on His Grace… and carry on!
    Peace!

  2. Therese Sander

    Here is the perfect opportunity to let him know that when he encounters such a situation, it is time to turn to God, the ultimate healer (see the Sunday Gospel for today) and give the situation to him. He can offer his pain and hurt in reparation for the sin that caused Jesus so much hurt. Let him know that even our pain and suffering can be used for good. That’s the meaning of “redemptive suffering.” None of us can avoid suffering. It’s how we respond to it that counts. Your advice was very, very good, but there’s more to say about it.
    Love, Mom

    • We will have to pull out the daily readings. We had Bishop McKnight and the readings for the Our Lady of Lourdes feast day today.

      On Sun, Feb 11, 2018 at 11:23 AM, Kathleen M. Basi wrote:

      >

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