Less Scaffolding, More Grace: By Tiffany Geach
I don’t think I’m breaking any news over here, but I love control. There are so many names for it: Type A, control freak, borderline OCD, militant, organized, runs a tight ship, on the ball... the list goes on forever. This structure I’ve built around my life is incredibly helpful and gives me clear checkpoints I can measure my life against. I know where I stand and what I need to do to make progress.
Backpacks in the appropriate spot? Check!
Laundry organized by child? Check!
Pantry organized by the proximity of snack to child who can reach it? Check!
Grocery list sorted by my route through the supermarket? Check!
I have built an entire life around routine, in some way, to build a solid and steady foundation for my children since it’s not something I grew up with. My main parenting philosophy so far has been to take a long, hard look at my childhood and say “okay, so not like that.” In my head, structure has created a safety and predictability - a foundation my kids can stand on and then grow from.
But really all of it is just an exoskeleton around my own pile of emotional goo. This scaffolding of schedules, activities, and habits is just holding up the jumble that is my brain. Unfortunately, 2020 hasn't been kind or particularly thoughtful when it comes to keeping my routines thriving. Having the earth literally shake beneath your feet has not been ideal when trying to keep the foundation steady. No matter how hard I try to insulate my children from unpredictability and matters outside our control, it's not within my power.
I've had to take a real inventory about what my exoskeleton, my structure, really needs to be about. Sure, backpacks are where they need to be and laundry is (mostly) getting done, but I'm also trying to rebuild all of my scaffolding since it has all been ripped down. And you know what I've realized: The thing about people who are really good at juggling balls in the air is that we just keep adding ball after ball after ball. The idea of letting them all fall to the ground is terrifying - what will happen to them all? Who will take care of all these things?
If this year has taught me anything, it's that it doesn't have to be me. Inside my pile of emotional goo, I've been doing some thinking. I've given myself some space and grace to decide which balls I want to pick up to juggle; how I want the structure around me to look. Instead of stressing about all the changes and how I'm going to deal with them, I'm trying to show my kids "Hey, things are going to get shaken up and this is how we deal with it."
Now, don't get me wrong, this isn't something I have mastered - but I'm trying to allow myself space to try... and space to fail. And instead of building a big structure around my emotional goo, I'm trying to build a softer place to fall.