The Plan vs. Reality

I am a planner. I like paper, pencils, pens (lots of pens), and Pinterest. I like making color coded lists, charts, and diagrams with all the beautiful pens. My brain is always trying to put things in order and make sense of all the bits and pieces floating around in my head. I have more notebooks than I care to admit, all containing some grand scheme or brilliant idea to make life run a little more smoothly. I should be one very put together mama, never missing a beat!

But life does not follow all the pretty plans (at least that’s been my experience). For example, I created a pretty new cleaning and laundry schedule this week that I thought was very simple and attainable, but I’m already off track. My beautiful plan did not account for having to take my car to the shop, rearranging the entire mud room when water leaked under the freezer, my sweet girl suddenly deciding the vacuum is too loud (never been a problem before 🙄), or two whole days of my husband being home from work because of snow.

Am I a little sad that my careful planning went out the window? Yes. I like to check the boxes and get stuff done. But I am learning to not get so worked up over unchecked boxes. So, what if my bathroom is not cleaned on the right day or my one week plan takes two weeks to complete. No cleaning task even holds a candle to playing the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel game (it’s a real thing) or just smiling and laughing with my little family. Besides, I’m getting things done…just not the things on my over-planned list.

After a decade and a half of getting set in my ways, this more flexible attitude is still a work in progress. Let’s go back to the beginning of my mama life. After the shock of finding out I was pregnant wore off a little, the planning began. There were nursery decorations to make, matching clothes to buy, registries to build, and the all important birth plan to write. This last one makes me laugh so hard, because NOTHING went the way I thought it was supposed to when our girl was born.

I had done my research and decided that I wanted to have a natural birth, no drugs, no epidural, just the way women did it for centuries. I even talked my sweet hubby into attending a natural birth class with me. There was a list in my planner of the things I did and didn’t want to happen, just in case I forgot to tell my doctors. I had this all figured out!

The first clue that I was not in charge was that the little girl sitting on my bladder was in a breech position and didn’t seem to want to change that. But even then, I read about all the ways to get your baby to turn and just knew that she was going to cooperate. Then, three weeks before her due date, we went for our routine checkup and ultrasound. The doctor came in after the scan and said, “Are y’all ready to have this baby?” We chuckled and were like, “Of course!”

But he was serious. The amniotic fluid was dangerously low and he was sending us for an emergency C-section. That was NOT what I wanted or what I had planned for AT ALL!! We were planning to go home and start packing our hospital bags that weekend according to my two-page list with all the check boxes! We asked if we had time to run back home and grab a few things, but were told it was too risky. Another patient had done so and lost her baby. So, of course we just drove over to the hospital and called family and friends for prayer and support.

I hadn’t read very much about C-sections (that wasn’t what I wanted), but enough to know that skin-to-skin contact and nursing could still happen very early, so that was the new plan. Our girl was born, the nurses brought her over for us to hold, then they promptly took her away again. Her lungs were not functioning completely on their own. She was eventually taken to the NICU at another hospital, and we were told that she would probably be there until near her due date, three weeks away. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be checking in and out of my own hospital to visit my child across town. And not to mention the thought of having to go home and be almost an hour away.

But that’s where God had other plans, too. When I was released from the hospital, a room opened up at the Ronald McDonald House across the parking lot from the NICU, and we were able to get in earlier than predicted. Then our miracle baby kept improving way faster than predicted. Every time the doctors updated us on what to expect, she went beyond. So much so, that she only spent six days of the predicted three weeks in the hospital. I don’t know why everything happened the way it did, but I know it was God’s plan and that His purposes were and are being accomplished.

Since we brought her home, this girl has kept me on my toes! Not much at all has been like I imagined, she refuses to follow a schedule of any kind, and she is one of the most unpredictable individuals I have ever met. But I love her so much I could explode, she is teaching me to live life as it happens, and I know that God is molding her into exactly the woman He wants her to be.

So, am I going to throw all my planners and notebooks out? Not hardly. Am I going to stop making checklists? Couldn’t if I tried. Will I still create cute printables for the planners? You bet, they’re adorable! But these are not the things in charge of my life. The only plan that I desperately need to follow is the one in God’s Word. I have to allow myself the flexibility to realize that I am not in control of everything (not much at all, really) and to follow the leading of Jesus and His Spirit, because He knows what will happen next, and I definitely do not.

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