The Art of Eating Your Words

Early on in our marriage, my husband and I spent a summer in Romania. We loved getting to the know the people there and learning a new culture. One of the cultural oddities we had to get used to was the fact that our plans were NEVER set in stone. Whenever we’d ask about our plans for dinner or the weekend, the answer was always, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” Are we meeting them in the city? Maybe yes, maybe no. Are we going to the beach tomorrow? Maybe yes, maybe no. It was infuriating at times. It was also honest.

You see, our Romanian friends knew something we hadn’t figured out yet at 21- namely that life doesn’t always go as planned. The longer we are parents, the more we understand the wisdom in their “maybe yes, maybe no” answer.

Like most couples, we were brilliant parents before we had kids. We knew exactly how we were going to raise them. What they would be allowed (and not allowed) to do. When they would cross which milestones, how they would behave. We had it all figured it.

Then we had kids. And the best-laid plans went right out the window.

Our kids will definitely go to public school,” we said. “Our kids will not have cell phones until they’re in high school!” “We will never be those crazy sports parents,” and on and on.

It’s not that we abandoned our entire worldview and values system. We still have certain “always” and “nevers.” They just tend to be more on the big picture end of things. The day to day decisions are filtered through our season of life, our kids’ current needs, our own sanity. Real live humans are much more complicated that imagined ones. It’s all harder and more beautiful than we ever imagined when we were picking out nursery colors.

These days, our answer harkens back to our days in Romania when hard questions come up. “Will you always homeschool your kids?” Maybe yes, maybe no. “Will you allow your child to participate in X/watch X/have X?” Maybe yes, maybe no. We’ve eaten enough of our words over the years to know that, sometimes, “I don’t know” is the wisest answer there is. 

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