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Embrace Chaos

Have you ever had a family fail? You know what I mean. The kind of thing where you have an amazing plan in your mind and you play out exactly how it is going to happen. Everyone is smiling, having a good time, thanking you for all the hard work you put in to make it happen. And then the reality of it is exactly the opposite. It rains on your picnic, the movie is sold out, the amusement park is closed or someone gets sick.

That happened to me recently. I had the brilliant idea to go fishing as a family on a weekend morning. Oh the plans I had. We would wake up early, all chipper and happy. Grab some gas station doughnuts and hot cocoa, chat all the way to the fishing hole and then catch too many fish to count.

What really happened was real life. The kids were crabby about getting up so early, the hot chocolate at the gas station was broken, we got lost on our way to the fishing hole, it was freezing cold and we forgot the tackle box! Luckily we all had hooks on our poles an we remembered the worms.

We set up our poles by the river and started to fish. We waited, and waited and waited. Nothing, not a single bite. Ten minutes into it my son decided to call it quits and take a nap. I couldn’t yell at him because shortly after, I joined him in a comfy chair with a blanket. My daughter tried so hard to keep going. Shaking in the cold and casting again and again with no reward. She too gave in and sat with us.

There alone was my husband. Determined to keep fishing. After about 30 more minutes, he said it was time to pack up. I could see the disappointment on his face. We made our way back to the truck. It was quiet on the drive back. The kind of quiet where no one wants to be the first to talk.

I finally broke the tense silence and said, “ I had so much fun today!” Everyone rolled their eyes. I went on to explain that it wasn’t the actual fishing that was enjoyable (that was obvious). It was the whole process leading up to it and just being together, outside of our normal routine.

Everyone agreed but no one was quick to plan the next fishing trip!

Maybe you have had a similar experience. You felt like you failed you family. You carried the guilt of everyone not having a good time or getting what they wanted. Here is some advice to free you from the burden of perfect plans, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” - The Rolling Stones.

Listen, your plans might not turn out the way you hoped. But don’t stop trying. You are making memories, and to be honest, the times that we think are failures are usually the memories that stick with our family the most. The ones where you talk about them long after it happened because you laugh about them, together.

That’s what it is really about. Being together. So the next time you think it’s a family fail…it really isn’t!

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