My family teaches me lessons beyond what I could possibly learn on my own. Today that teaching happened in the midst of a game of Candyland. Spencer and I played it for the first time this morning, and he had a great time singing about the colors, flipping the cards, pointing out the treats on the board, and moving the little guys around (he scraped his cheek on a storage bench in the backyard…in case you’re wondering).
One thing I like to do is look for the parallels between what I do with my children and the purpose of life in general. Sometimes my observations are a stretch, and some people might ask, “Can’t you just enjoy a game of Candyland without trying to analyze it?” But that’s what helps me grow through motherhood…finding purpose and meaning in the little things.
So here are two life observations:
(1) In life, like in Candyland, our journey isn’t smooth-sailing, and we never know what’s next. Okay, so sometimes I sneak a little lollipop card onto the top of the pile so my son will get to surge ahead, but if you’re playing “legit,” you could get two purples, a lost turn on a licorice space, or that little Gingerbread guy–who is so cute, but who sends you all the way back to the beginning.
When I forget this rule (that you can’t predict what’s next), I set myself up for failure. One morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. to get a jump start on my day. I had a whole list to tackle, but before I could even check off item number one, a child stomped into my room saying, “My ear is KILLING me, and so and so wet the bed” (I promised my children I’d stop using names on the embarrassing stuff). I was grumpy all day.
As long as I’ve got my sights set on that Candy Castle, I’ve got to be okay with the setbacks. My errands might never happen because the baby is too cranky to last even one “car to cart” transfer. My fabulous made-from-scratch meal might turn into frozen pizza (again) because it turns out the children REALLY want to go to the library, and then they want to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, and then they want to check out the cool “marble land” the awesome librarian bought for the toy section, and before we know it, it’s 5:30. Some days are going to take me back nearly to where I started, but other days I’ll get that blessed ice cream cone, and all will be well. Being flexible is a skill.
(2) In life, like in Candyland, the Rainbow Trails and Gumdrop Passes are cherished blessings. The difference is that in life, WE get to make those trails. I think of things like “Brilliant Books,” incredible blogs, friends who are always willing to lend a hand, people who invent nifty time-saving gadgets, and websites like The Power of Moms. These are all ways we reach back to help others on life’s path.
Some people think the point of this game of life is to get to the “world of plenty” first, leaving everyone else behind, but that’s the biggest lie there is. I’m all for a system that enables people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and improve their lot in life through education and hard work, but it’s essential that those who have advantages, luxury, and ease look beyond themselves to see what good they can offer those who might be struggling.
During my days and weeks as a frustrated young mother, I pored over every book in the parenting section of the library…hoping that someone somewhere had successfully navigated the same rough waters. The one book I found that helped me through that time was Linda Eyre’s “A Joyful Mother of Children,” and I find it quite serendipitous that I am now working on a website designed to strengthen mothers with her daughter Saren.
Whether it’s writing a book, calling a friend who’s going through a tough time, volunteering at the school, creating a product that will lift the world, or simply being there for your family, these Rainbow Trails and Gumdrop Passes are literally shaping the future. There’s no limit to how many we can make, and there is no shortage of people who desperately need them, but square by square, day by day, we’re all making the world a little sweeter.
My son just came over to me and wants to spend some time together…I’m off to shape my little world!
QUESTION: How have others reached out to help you on your life journey?
CHALLENGE: Decide not to get frustrated when your day doesn’t go as planned. Expect that you’ll have twice as many setbacks as you’d like.