Predictability in parenting…

…is overrated. …isn’t real. …is temporary at best.

Well, any of these endings to my “predictability in parenting…” sentence could have been true for me today (or yesterday evening for that matter). Gracelyn has four teeth coming in (to add to the eight she’s had since the one year mark) and I think they did a number on us in the last 18 hours. She didn’t fall asleep until 10 — about one hour later than usual — and she woke up fully at 3 a.m. and was very hard to comfort and then restless for another hour. Then, this afternoon, she would not nap until we took a walk outside (then she was asleep 90 seconds after getting into the ergo carrier and beginning to nurse).

Besides the fact that some of this time was difficult for her, the primary “problem” was my reaction. Thankfully I didn’t lose it…but that’s in part due to the fact that daddy Bruce stepped in while I caught a nap. After waking, he reminded me that I was doing fine, Gracelyn would sleep when she was tired, and we didn’t know the “why” but we could see that what was was an almost 17-month-old enjoying exploring the world around her. So, here’s what I think this experience has taught me about predictability and parenting (or life in general).

  • While it can feel comforting to think we “know” what’s next, the truth is that we don’t know and never will. Thinking of something as “certain” can be a recipe for dissatisfaction.
  • Thinking that someone is predictable can make it easy for us to miss seeing who that person is in any given moment. (Today I kept thinking, Gracelyn should be tired now rather than noticing that tiredness wasn’t really on her radar.)
  • We build rhythms to instill feelings of predictability and this is a comforting and positive practice. When we insist on predictability, however, the flow of the rhythm becomes constrained or even ceases altogether.
  • When we say something is predictable, we might be better off substituting the words “probable,” “likely,” or even “possible” instead. This might remind us that even if we’d like the ability, we’re not omniscient.

On that note, let me close now and take a nap. Gracelyn has been asleep just over an hour, so, if I’m lucky, she’ll be snoozing for another 60 minutes…and if not, it’s simply because predictability is on vacation. 😉


2 thoughts on “Predictability in parenting…

  1. Ah, you lovely mother, who awoke me to how I’ve been clashing with my 11-year-old granddaughter because yesterday she was such-and-such-a-way (which, incidentally, I liked) so that meant that today would be more of the same.
    As you say, insisting that I know the future a) let’s me miss out on who she is right now and b) is a recipe for dsiappointment.
    And I could have easily gotten alongside her and been “for” her and full of faith that together we could work out today’s different mood IF I’d realized that she wasn’t the one being obnoxious; I was.
    Thank you, dear woman!

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