I’m an eternal optimist, a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person. I don’t say this to brag because in most instances, this quality has led to quite a bit of frustration in my life. I set massive, but attainable goals… if only everything would go right, and by right I mean NOTHING would go wrong.
In our family, I am the household manager. My husband, Frank, is our fearless leader. He works hard, helps out around the house, plays Monopoly, four square, chess, and about a hundred other board games with our kids. Most importantly, when that blood vessel next to my eye starts to twitch because my three beautiful children are starting to resemble Monsters, Inc. look-a-likes, he magically makes them disappear for a few hours.
However, the day-to-day running of our family falls squarely on my shoulders. I manage our appointments, finances, meals, extracurricular activities, and school involvement. If you couple those responsibilities with a sanguine (if not somewhat unrealistic) outlook, the result can be maddening, because what I expect to happen and what I actually experience varies drastically.
My pastor, Steven Furtick, would call this “The Expectation Gap.” We have all experienced the disappointment that accompanies a beautifully wrapped, albeit re-gifted, Christmas present. Isn’t it incredibly disheartening when a certain expected outcome is replaced with a lesser and unexpected one?
Even as I wrote that last sentence I sighed, because my day has been one big Expectation Gap. My oldest child was supposed to be working to bring his math grade up, instead it dropped two points. My daughter’s dance company fees were supposed to be paid in full, until the office called to remind me of another three hundred dollar expense. I planned to have this article completed by noon today. It’s now 9pm, and I’m sitting in a parking lot with my laptop trying to finish. My best-case scenarios crumbled under the pressure of life. You can plan, schedule, and map how your days are going to go, but in the end, best-case scenarios are rarely realized anywhere except in our mind.
Knowing this quirk I have, Frank has frequently asked, “How much cushion did you plan for?” He’s wanting to know, “What if everything doesn’t go as planned? What then? Do you have a Plan B?”
Early in our marriage, the answer was typically, “No.” It took until the birth of my first child, to understand the need for a contingency plan. My baby wouldn’t sleep. My eyes were always leaking, and my size 6 jeans only fit from the knees down. The plan to go to the gym everyday, to have the house cleaned, and dinner on the table for my husband with my baby boy cooing in the highchair seemed like nothing more than a figment of my overactive imagination.
In my thirteen years of motherhood, I’ve come to understand having a clear objective is important, but having a Plan B is essential.
A Plan B is not the altar on which Plan A is sacrificed. Instead, think of it as the ultimate strategy, the lengths to which you are willing to go, as a parent, to see your objective met. Here are a few examples:
Objective: My child will do well in school.
Best Case Scenario: He or she will be an A honor roll student.
Plan B: I will do everything I can to help my child achieve his or her full academic potential.
Objective: As a family, we will continue to grow in our faith.
Best Case Scenario: My child will be a spiritual warrior, ready and willing to share his or her faith with friends and strangers.
Plan B: We will pray, memorize scripture, and attend church regularly as a family.
Objective: My child will have people, other than myself, who will speak truth into his or her life.
Best Case Scenario: My child will have wonderful friendships centered around the love of Christ.
Plan B: I will identify a relevant spiritual mentor for my child and make it my business to know who is influencing him or her.
Having a Plan B in no way concedes defeat or lowers expectations. If anything, identifying a contingency ensures victory. Acknowledging the reality that things will go wrong allows you to come to terms with any reluctance you may feel as a parent and push through self-imposed limitations.
I’m always going to choose to believe the best-case scenario for my child. I’m also going to account for the possibility that things may go awry, and when they do, Plan B falls into place. My contingency plan always equates to my complete and utter willingness to do whatever it takes to see my child achieve all God has purposed for his or her life.