A long time ago, I was a preschool teacher. We served school lunch 'family style,' I asked each child about the options, put food on their plate, and passed the plate around the big table. One of my all-time biggest touchpoints happened at lunch one day when the plate (it was meatloaf that day) got to a little boy who looked up at me and said, "This is not what I ordered."
He was confused, thinking he had more choice than he had. Maybe I misunderstood what he had said about the options, or maybe they arrived seeming less appetizing than he had hoped. But his response is one that I recognize in myself.
When life is happening, do you ever feel like saying "This is not what I ordered."?
"No, not this!"
"I wanted something else."
Maybe your child is cranky when you've planned something special. Or they get sick on your birthday! Maybe they are ending the school year not as one of those kids singled out for special awards, but in the back row barely managing to get by. Maybe they got a hard diagnosis this year, physical, emotional, or mental. Very few of us get exactly what we order as parents.
When these 'this is not what I ordered' feelings come up, I try to remember that what I order is only a small part of what happens. Finding flexibility in myself to be open to the things I didn't order (or didn't MEAN to order) is where my growth will happen. I've long loved Leonard Cohen's lyric from Anthem, "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in," which says all of what I feel so powerfully.
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.