I recently pulled out my middle school yearbooks. I had to. It was time to figure out who those Facebook friend requests were from. I thought if I pulled out my old middle school year books it might jog my memory.
In my memories middle school was full of good times with good friends. I am pretty sure I purged the bad, painful memories, decades ago. It was interesting though looking through the notes that people wrote in my yearbook. There were quite a few that went something like this, "Jen, We started off rough but I'm glad we're friends. See you soon. Love Always. Beth"
I am thinking I was a tough person to be friends with as a middle schooler. I would like to think I have come a long way but I am pretty sure I am still the same girl I was in middle school. I have moments of terrible insecurity. I am still deeply honest. I also fear that I am just as arrogant, thinking I know what is right, though I have learned over the years to keep my mouth shut a little bit more.
One of the reasons it is easier to keep my thoughts about what is best to myself is that I have learned that being right is hard work. And sometimes I don't want to do the work. I have learned the pragmatism often takes over idealism. I know I need to be consistent if I want my kids to change their loud, disruptive behavior. But most nights, I don't have the energy or the desire to walk back to the car and try walking into the Y again using our inside voices and walking instead of running.
More importantly, I have learned that we are not all trying to achieve the same goal. So while 2 +2 may equal 4, my friend might be trying to add up to 12. We all assume everyone wants to add up to the same ideal. Turns out we don't and that is okay.
I am a big believer in kids sleeping through the night in their own beds. I need my sleep to be a good mommy and my kids need a good mommy so sleep is a high priority at our house. I have lots of friends that struggle for different reasons with getting a good nights sleep. It seems obvious that if they followed my plan they would get a good nights sleep. (I wish there was a way to say that with a wink but typing makes it hard.) But when I listened beyond the tiredness of my friends to their deeper agenda, I learned that my solution did not add up to their real goal, whether it was letting their child know they are always there for them or enjoying the sweet moments of sharing a family bed.
I saw this play out with a good friend of mine recently. She challenged a decision we had made for Hockey Boy. She was coming from a place of genuine concern for his well being and really felt like we were making the wrong choice for our son. I was really thrown for a loop. It is very painful to hear someone say they think you are pushing your kid too hard or harming your child in any way. I started to doubt our decision. But as I got some distance I realized that our long term parenting goals are different. Her solution worked for the immediate problem while my decision was aiming toward a long term goal we have for our boys. I am not sure what my friend's long term goal is for her kids. I am sure it is different. Not better. Not worse. Just different. And so our ways of dealing with various situations will be different. Not better. Not worse. Just different.
And so while I may still think I have all the solutions. I am realizing that I don't. Because I don't know what my friends really want for their kids long term. I don't really know what someone wants out of their life. I do believe that there is right and wrong, moral imperatives, but most of life is spent in the grey. And grey is just that a shade, a color that can lighten or darken as the artist needs to create the image in their mind.