Most people are familiar with The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. If you are not, or if it has been a while since you read it, I will briefly recap it for you. Frost’s poem discusses the plight of a traveler, who comes across two roads diverged in the woods, and soon realizes that he cannot travel both. The traveler then contemplates which road to take and upon taking one, remains pensive about his decision. In the end, the traveler took the road less traveled and apparently, for him, “that has made all the difference”.
Well, as I was driving home from preschool yesterday, I came to a stark realization. So often, throughout the days, week after week, I do what is easy for me, with no or minimal care as to if it is what is best for the kids. Of course, I am not talking about anything safety-related or anything that puts my children into harms way. But, with regard to our daily routine, the majority of our day is spent with me finding a way to make things a little less challenging, even if that is at the expense of my kids’ joy.
So, what exactly am I referring to? I’ll tell you. I am referring to the times that encourage my fifteen month old’s nap, instead of taking her to story time, so that I can am able to get some work done. I am referring to the fact that I get my children a bakery cookie and small toy, every single time I go to Publix, so that they will not fuss or have a tantrum in public. I am referring to the fact that I tell them that we need to do something else instead of the thing they want to do, when we don’t really need to do what it is that I said. I am referring to the fact that I let my son each french fries and dinosaur nuggets, day in and day out, because I don’t want to deal with an argument from him. I am referring to the fact that I send the kids upstairs to play by themselves, rather than with me, because I don’t desire to play.
I am not getting down on myself and yes, I do know and believe that I am a good mom. There are plenty of times when I take the harder road because I know that it will make one, two, or all three of my children happy. Still, on a typical day, I normally gravitate towards the easy path, even when I am consciously aware that a better path for my child, in that moment, and on that day, may be an alternative one.
If I am the traveler here, in this journey of life and parenthood, I have been regularly taking the straightforward, worn path that most travelers take — the “easy” path. Unfortunately, I made a wrong turn; where I have been turning left, I should have been turning right — towards the divergent path. Although more challenging, and likely marked by more obstacles, the harder path, which is also the path that fewer people usually take, is the path that will lead to greater self-discovery, self-improvement and joy, for both my children and myself.
Yes, my choice to take the simpler path may seem somewhat minimal in the big scheme of things, but when I am doing that every single day, and sometimes multiple times a day, it adds up. What is it adding up to, you ask? It is adding up to my missed out chances for the cultivation and strengthening of my relationships with my children.
In the world of parenthood, every day brings its own challenges And, each child that you have, brings with them, of course, their own personality-specific challenges. Throw into the mix, your own personal challenges that you deal with and with all of that combined, life can sometimes seem like you are in the middle of a turbulent storm from which you cannot escape. So what am I going to do? And, what should you do if you have been taking the easy path, as well?
This is what you need to do. You have to decide to try to be more aware of the options that are available to you in any given situation. You have to train yourself to weigh your options and be unbiased. Then, you need to base your course of action on what is best for your child — not what is easiest for you. This new point of view I am encouraging you to adopt, alongside myself, is going to take your active awareness and participation. I know that for me, personally, I feel as though my children haven’t had that as much lately and that is something they more than deserve.
“Every challenge you encounter in life is a fork in the road. You have the choice to choose which way to go — backward, forward, breakdown or breakthrough”. – Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha
Will you breakthrough today? Will I see you traveling beside me on the divergent path? I hope so…