Friday, November 19, 2010


Procrastination starts with "I don't want to."

The question is why don't I want to? And my answer to myself is usually "I don't feel like it" or "I don't like doing that".

But the question remains: why? Why don't I feel like it? Why don't I like doing it? Sometimes it's because the task is tedious, sometimes it's because I don't have the energy required. But most of the time procrastination is about fear. We're afraid because:
  • we're facing something new, or
  • we're not quite sure how to do something, or 
  • we're fearful that we won't do it well, or 
  • we will somehow expose our incompetence, or 
  • we believe others will think less of us when it becomes clear that we're not as wonderful as we think they think we are.
For me, recognizing that I'm afraid of something is a major turning point. I think, Oh -- okay, that's fear. I can work through that! Once I know its shape and size, I can chip away at it or walk around it or ignore it or do something to start making progress. 

I've toodled around life for enough years now to know that doing something's almost always better than doing nothing, and that in a sink-or-swim situation, a shaky doggie paddle, no matter how poorly executed, is likely to do more for me than sinking on the spot.

My kids don't have that much experience with life. And for some inexplicable reason, they're not all that eager to learn from my hard-learned lessons. So I think a lot about how to help them build the deep-down knowledge that they can accept their fears instead of being paralyzed by them.

And that's where things get tricky. How do you balance the need to let a kid fall enough so that he has to dig deep (and discover he's stronger than he thinks he is) with the need to provide the emotional scaffolding that prevents him from really hurting himself? Where does the fine line lie between encouraging a child to push past obstacles, and forcing her to bump into problems that can also shake her confidence?

Eh -- I don't know for sure. Some days I don't know at all. But I take comfort from the fact that no one consistently gets the support/independence mix right. The way it works for me is that if I gauge everything correctly and remember to shoot up a little prayer before opening my mouth and my kids are unusually attentive and I'm nowhere near having PMS, then occasionally things don't go splat.

I can live with that.

The rest of the time I doggie paddle forward (or at least in circles), and try again. Because I'm not going to get any better at this parenting stuff if I stay, stuck, where I am.

1 comment:

  1. I've followed the adventures and blessings of the Attaways through Guideposts since the children were small. Thank you for blogging. What an inspiration you are to mothers!