The baby’s nursery is coming along nicely. At this point we’ve painted it and then repainted it a different color. Put furniture in, rearranged it and then rearranged it again. We have our homemade artwork for the walls and some other stuff ready to go next but I’m pretty sure based on the first conversation about it that the first placements won’t be the final ones.
In the course of keeping the blog so far, it’s been interesting to think about what all this means. We’re getting closer and the realities of pregnancy are becoming much more pronounced and we’re having to learn how to adapt on the fly. Changing routines as we go along through a series of trial and error. Educated guesses on what might work from one day to the next.
While all of these adjustments are possible in the baby’s room we technically only get one shot at being parents.
OK. Maybe that’s a little extreme. For the most part children are fairly resilient and adaptable. They are learning to be little humans at the same time we’re learning too. We, like all parents before us, are bound to make a few of the less optimal choices along the way. And, we’ll hopefully have every opportunity to make things more efficient, or effective along the way.
The object isn’t to be perfect. The idea is to be the best we can be with what we have to work with. It’s a pretty noble hope, at least, but one we would like to think we can strive to.
Of course, sometimes the perception of what the best outcome is isn’t always obvious or agreed upon. My wife and I routinely disagree on this actually. And, it’s not even just the outcome, it’s often the processes as well. That’s to be expected. We’re both pretty thorough individuals. We both achieved a level of success during our most independent periods of our lives and it’s often times been difficult for us to trust. Not just trust one another, but also ourselves in opening up to the possibilities that there may be other ways to do things or other realities that are good outcomes.
Over the years of dating, living together, engagement, marriage, homeownership and now our current pre-natal reality we’re coming to terms with what this means. We argue about absolutely stupid shit outcomes still. Who is right about the best way to schedule a delivery, or how to organize washing the clothes, or deal with piles of mail and other paperwork we’ve both let stack up for different reasons. While it’s sometimes easy to say pick and chose your battles some people are just ready made for certain types of ongoing conflict too.
As we prepare for the little one it seems like we’re conflict adverse in a way we weren’t previously. We’re also conflict prone in ways we hadn’t been either, but the level of agreement, or at least negotiated tolerance (for lack of a better word) is at the highest point we’ve been at since the initial honeymoon period of our dating ended. We’re finding more common ground about more aspects of life than we had before, at least to my perception. I feel like, if nothing else, I’m still in disagreement with a lot of stuff but I’m not angry about it and am open to outcomes I otherwise wouldn’t have been.
I don’t consider this compromise. I’m not giving up what I want. I am not getting what I thought I’d wanted, that’s for sure. But, what I’m discovering is that the process, or the outcome, or both, is providing me with happiness as well. The negative connotation that usually comes with compromise isn’t necessarily there the way most people assume not getting what you want is usually treated. My notion of the preferred process, or the preferred outcome isn’t right or wrong, it is just a different variation. When we follow it or achieve it things turn out well. When we don’t, things also turn out well.
It turns out sometimes giving up that control isn’t so bad after all.
The lesson I’m actually learning from all of this is that control, or outcome as it were, is very much a mindset.
That’s why earlier I didn’t say we as parents are going to make mistakes. We are not. We are going to chose processes or work toward outcomes that may be perceived as more, or less, optimal sometimes. The key word here is perception. One choses to see the word as right or wrong, correct or incorrect, success or failure. Mistake implies wrong, incorrect and failure the same way that compromise implies giving up something. It’s a socially correct albeit imperfect way of interpreting things.
I bring this up not only in terms of how this affects my wife and I now as parents to be but in something I hope to be able to pass along to my young padawan.
Long ago, when I first began taking on leadership roles and mentoring people working with me as I was in leadership positions I had several “rules” I would instill.
The first was encouraging them to ask questions. They would never be shamed or looked down on for asking. I might not always have the answers – but we would find strive to discover one together. They might not always like the answers – but they would always get an explanation.
The second was they would always be encouraged to try things on their own. I would often say there was nothing they could do that would be so bad it couldn’t be fixed. While it’s a nice sentiment, I always knew it wasn’t true, there’s always the possibility of an anomaly. The idea was to provide (semi)controlled circumstances where a variety of processes could produce a variety of different successes. And, if something wasn’t a traditional success, per se, we could turn it into a learning experience, not just for the mentee but for the company. After all, when put under the lens of optimization strategy I often preach as a product manager, very few experiments can actually result in “failure.”
I did believe (and still do), for mature and intelligent individuals, this provides part of the foundation for proper motivation for measured risk taking. The challenge always is mindset. Encouraging the mindset where “failure is always an option” that Mythbusters was so known for espousing is one thing, but the tongue-in-cheek phrase always had a sense of optimism behind it. It wasn’t try, try again for the sake of trying. It wasn’t repeating the same error. It was a very measured approach to variation over and over until there are no more variations left and the suggested outcome is either achieved or some alternative proves itself viable shifting the perception of success over, and over, until a new reality is achieved.
Being married to a woman who is a successful science teacher this method both is approved by her and drives her nuts. Furthermore, the social work side of her is both approving and driven nuts by it. And, of course, the being my wife part of her both love and hates it.
Here we are, trying to figure out ourselves and not figure out how to apply ourselves to our new situation. Our new reality.
And, all of my best advice I need to now figure out how to take about asking questions and about not being afraid to do things and about adjusting my expectations for outcomes. It is as much about being open-minded to a future I don’t completely control as it is about understanding how to manipulate the aspects I do control in such a way to achieve the best possible outcomes. I won’t always get the answers I want and I might not always do the things that produce the ideas defined as success but I can define aspects of that reality and be the better for it.
Thus, in the new reality, the challenge inlies. How to help the young padawan understand the inherent balance to both asking questions and trying new things in such a way that fosters the best possible outcomes, for them as the padawan and for myself as the jedi, so to speak. After all, even the jedi displayed ample flaws in their own “mastery” of the Force, and, well, for now three trilogies, are in the process of figuring out how to atone for it. Let’s hope v and I are somewhat more successful.