Life is uncertain

Feb 11, 2021

So many times, in life we want certainty.

We are taught to search for it, to wait for it, to demand it.

We get a job- we need a signed contract, a guarantee.

We look for a LIFE mate- we want to know will you love me FOREVER? Promise me!

When we decide to have children, we are afraid and insecure. Will our pregnancy go full term? Will our baby be healthy? Will our child be “normal”? Will our child live to adulthood? Old age? Outlive us?

But, none of this is certain! How could it be?

The universe isn’t certain.

We have grown to expect and depend on the cycles of nature- the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes, the tide comes in and goes out. We watch flowers bloom each spring, some trees bud, grow leaves, and lose them.

But for people and circumstances, it is different!

The child who loves soccer plans out his whole life and a knee injury puts him on a new path; a musical prodigy headed for greatness decides the piano doesn’t bring him joy anymore; the gifted student decides college isn’t right for her; the love of your life dies at a young age; your child whose life you imagined into old age becomes sick and dies.

This is the nature of our existence. What do we do with this insecurity, this not knowing?

For some people it is paralyzing, they are afraid of everything. Their lives are filled with what ifs- what if the plane crashes, the road freezes, the cable snaps, the gunman appears? And so, they do nothing.

Some are paralyzed another way.

They take on the impossible task of trying to control everything, every person, every event, every possibility. They push forward but the universe finds a way to show them the folly of their ways. The unexpected snow storm in late spring, the high school valedictorian who leaves college after one semester to find herself, the closing of a 100-year-old company that leaves someone suddenly unemployed! And then what happens?

The sooner we learn to accept and handle insecurity, the not knowing the outcome, and even not “CARING” about the outcome, the more we can enjoy and appreciate whatever life we experience.

As a parent, we like to think we know what we should ”invest in”- our time, our energy, our money. One of the most challenging and wonderful aspects of parenting is that we can’t tell ahead of time what bang we will get for our buck! How could we?

Parenting is an experience that can play out over decades. When I was a practicing pediatrician, I used to talk to parents about ways to handle certain parenting challenges. They wanted quick answers and I used to quote a parenting expert I had read once- he said, “Go try that a couple hundred times and get back to me. Let me know how it goes!”

In parenting, sometimes you make a change, try it for a couple of years. see how it goes, and sometimes DECADES later, you find out what impact it had on your kids! That’s the beauty of it!

We don’t know what will make the bigger impact on our children- the years of "encouraging" them to practice the piano and driving them to lessons, the few minutes every night they heard you play music while you washed the dishes, or the few hours you spent taking them to their first concert!

Some of the most important and most impactful memories our children have would be a surprise to us! Sometimes my kids tell me stories- “remember the time…”  and they blow me away! Most of the time, I do remember, sometimes not. Often, these things were laying the groundwork for a feeling of love, fun, connectedness, and playfulness. They were not necessarily “life-changing” moments! Apparently, they were impactful ones, though. I just didn’t know it at the time!

With your children and your life- there is no certainty. No one knows how long we get to be on this journey. The challenge is to be ok with that knowledge and love today for today; act today as if there is no tomorrow, because after all- it is all uncertain!

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