Getting Good Because You Have To

A colleague has a new baby at home, and he’s describing through bloodshot eyes the maddening resistance infants put up to all routine and schedule. I need to stop meeting every description of an episode involving his son with one from my own experience, now nine years old, but parenting a newborn is one of those things you endure that make you believe you have something of value to share with the world.

Mine comes down to this: the routine and the schedule that you so desperately miss and that you would pay any price to establish is nothing compared to the one your new family situation may ultimately give you. Almost nothing about the way I spend my time at home and the things I do fulfills the expectations I had for what my life would be like with a kid. It’s so much better.

A succession of routines produced the one we inhabit now. They were all delightful and deficient in their own ways, as is this one, which, I know, is but a truck stop on the parenting highway. God willing, there’s miles and miles of road to come that will demand more changes in habit, more overcoming of hangups, the acquisition of more know-how.

The thing I keep reflecting on, listening to my colleague, is how much I enjoy doing things that parenting forced me to learn. The easiest example is cooking. I’m not a great cook, but I enjoy it, all of it. I enjoy the meal planning and the grocery shopping and the roasting and the grilling and the Instant Pot-ing. It was a chore, but thriving as a two-career family with a kid required me to take ownership of it. Turns out it’s the element of our little family life I enjoy the most.

Parenting isn’t the only thing that forces this kind of learning-to-love-it. Practically every change is an opportunity to get good at something we never had to do before. Resisting it in the name of keeping things the way they were is short sighted. Your future self asks you to consider that.

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