My mom adventures in Fort Collins


21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 8

Today’s prompt says, “Today, take a moment to surface something you’ve learned about life that you wish to always be conscious of.”

I feel like this is the kindspring dot org way of saying what Oprah says when she asks her “What I know for sure”question.

So, in my head, Oprah is asking me to ponder this. I’m sitting across from her in a cozy chair and my hair and make-up are perfection. I would cast off the host of immediate responses that make light of this question, sassy one-liners like, “I know that saving the apple pie for later means that the ants might get it first.”

And here’s what I would say:

I don’t know much with certainty, but it’s been my experience that when you’re given the choice between something that is easy and comfortable and something that is scary and difficult, you grow more when you take the more challenging path.

A long time ago, I thought this meant that you were always supposed to choose “adventure,” or what looked more exotic and original. Not so. What is more challenging is not necessarily what appears most challenging. Sometimes, it will be more challenging to leave your family and take the job several hundred miles away. However, other times, it will be more challenging to stay in your hometown and continue with the commitments you already have. Either way, the path that challenges you will ultimately force you to grow more, learn more and be more than if you had rested on the knowledge you’d already possessed.

I think this has been my experience with parenthood.

Parenthood has given me more challenges than any other experience in my life.  I have never felt more responsibility than I do as a parent. Parenthood pushes me, squeezes me, and stretches me. Alternatively, parenthood restricts me, limits me and forces me to cast aside my own selfish needs.

I believe in formative experiences–any experience that helps form a person and broaden his or her worldview. There are quite a few experiences in my life that I can pinpoint as eye-opening: Girl Scout sleep-away camp, my first job, studying abroad, etc. I didn’t grow up on a compound isolated from society, but I did live in a naive bubble where I simply didn’t realize the diversity of the larger world. The formative experiences in my life were instrumental in preparing me for differences of opinions, religion, politics, and values. I just didn’t know that these differences would come from the three other members of my family–one that I married, and two that I gave birth to. Having a family of my own is very challenging and it has been the ultimate formative experience.

But so it goes. This family stuff is scary and difficult. On days that I can see past the challenges, I feel blessed beyond measure. I am so grateful for the various opportunities I have had to expand my mind. And also, this is not to say that you should always choose the more challenging path, because there is definitely a time and place for the easy path, too. Like children’s birthday parties, for example.

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