This wasn’t my plan.
That thought has crossed my mind more than once or twice this past week. Month. Year. Amidst the overwhelming joy and peace and contentment I feel–of course there’s the chaos that comes.
Yesterday I was involved in an email thread discussing my step-daughter’s swim lessons (a normal subject, right? Wrong. Not when you’re a step parent.) The ice pick lines from a party that shall remain nameless stung at my heart. There was a preference voiced that Mia is accompanied by a “Parent or Guardian” at each lesson….and an opinion was stated that Kayla didn’t fall into that category.
Although that wasn’t the truth by a long shot and a lot of statements are simply emotionally charged as we all learn the ways of blending a family and grapple with leftover emotions that are sure to come after divorces–it still affects me deeply. It still echoes the many, MANY pains that come with this situation for every side involved.
You help raise a child that is not your own, you become a full-time parent to a child you DECIDED to give your life to, yet you are more often than not refused the title or respect or sometimes even the time of day or second thought by those around you. You are nanny status at times. Sometimes even below that.
This wasn’t the plan I had in mind.
It wasn’t supposed to be First comes baby, then comes love, then comes marriage..then comes proving yourself to everyone and their dog.
I didn’t plan on getting caught in the middle of child rearing debates or hurt feelings from so many different sides. I didn’t plan on sometimes feeling like the outcast with no voice in matters while simultaneously propping a child on my hip, wiping snot from my blouse, filling up a sippy cup with apple juice and singing “Itsy Bitsy spider” all at the same time–showcasing the pure irony of it all.
I didn’t plan on attending much-needed therapy or group sessions discussing the trials of step-parenting, co-parenting, and making things work smoothly. I didn’t plan on the resentment I would sometimes feel, the callousness, the anger. I didn’t plan on leaving a church that I had dedicated over a decade to or uprooting my entire life on a wing and a prayer. I didn’t plan on the repercussions that come with exploring a whole new frontier.
Most of the damn time I’m totally improvising. I know, I’m preaching to the choir here.
But heck, if I talked to little Kayla about this past year several years ago and the adjustments that would take place she would probably need resuscitation.
And yet…I have to marvel at the point of Plan B. Or C. Or Z for that matter.
Don’t we all?
We all set expectations for our day or weeks or our lives, and even on a subconscious level we set the boxes, we check them off, and we expect. And those expectations, when not met, can either be the root of hopelessness or the first bud of a totally new perspective and life. Plan B’s refine our hearts to make us more loving. Plan B’s make us brave. Plan B’s teach us things we never would have learned otherwise and they hand over surprises, a little bit of chaos, and just the right amount of patience needed to give us a joy that we didn’t even plan for before. Plan B’s will test us when we least expect it and teach us to be more selfless and kind and hopeful. Plan B’s will humble us.
Because I’m only human, I have had to be reminded several times about the beauty of Plan B or C or D. I’ve had to be reminded of how lucky I am to have escaped so many awful Plan A’s. And I’m grateful for the reminders that shake me up and remind me that I would want nothing else. Not for one hot second.
I read a blurb from one of the Step-Parenting groups I’m part of that hit me hard and I enjoyed her perspective. One of the things she said is, “Weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life you have.”
Chances are, you are living in your own Plan B. You may have a totally different career path right now then the one you went to school for. You might be divorced or on your second or third marriage. You might be like so many of my friends and family who are battling unexpected illnesses, raising children who aren’t so easy to handle, or picking yourself up over a grievous loss.
Your Plan B might include step children. Or no children. Or lots of loneliness that keeps you up at night. Your plan B or C might look like a brick wall that shut out everything you hoped for and right now you’re in the process of re-routing everything.
Chances are, whoever you are–you were not given your Plan A.
And there’s a purpose–so don’t you fret.
Even Christ himself suffered sorrow so deep to the point of death. We are not above it. Life is messy and irritating and hard and sometimes we get the wind knocked right out of us and spend some time on the ground before we rise.
It wasn’t my plan to be back here in Washington here at a desk at this wonderful job overlooking a milky robin’s egg blue skyline below Mount Rainier, sitting adjacent to a cubicle wall that boasts the smiling faces of my unconventional, beautiful, miracle of a family. It wasn’t my original plan to wake up this morning beside a man I’ve desperately loved for years, in a house I didn’t originally purchase in a town I had only visited as a child and never thought I’d be back in. It wasn’t my plan to parent a child that is not my own biologically and become a mother without the nine month waiting period. It wasn’t my plan to sometimes have moments of having NO plan.
But it was His. And it’s kind of perfect.
I really don’t think we’re here to understand it all–we’re just here on this earth to live it. And to embrace it. And to remind each other every now and then that the most merciful thing God has ever done for any of us in this life is to laugh at our plans–
And hand over something better.