“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ― Winston S. Churchill
A while back, on this very blog, I used to do a New Year’s goals list, and I would periodically report on my progress. I think I actually managed to keep a few of those goals for quite a while before I totally abandoned them. Typically I think I would just ditch the entire thing around spring or summer. I used to have unsurprising goals like lose weight, read more, or go green.
It occurred to me that the January after Mia was born that my goal setting seemed so pointless. I made one goal and that was to be more present in my life. I think I’m still working on that one. However, any other goal just seemed shallow. What did it matter if I was overweight? My daughter might need heart surgery. Who cares about books? How am I going to make it through IEPs? What’s the point of going green? I barely have time for the therapy appointments and doctor visits.
As things have been settling down more and we’ve reached a good groove with our special needs journey right now, I’ve sort of started to look back at those goals and think more about them. However, I’ve realized that my goals were literally horrible. What does “lose weight” mean when I can barely cook soup? So for the last few months I’ve been learning how to cook. I haven’t lost a pound, and I don’t care. Instead of just creating a goal, I’m focusing on the process.
It’s actually quite a bit like being a special needs parent. Sometimes you have to stop trying to work on the end game. “Get Mia to talk” is too big. Having been the mom of a late talker already, I know the process is difficult and can take years to get to real conversation and storytelling. Instead, I’ve been working on the process. Playing, mimicking sounds, receptive language – “bababa, lalalala, dadada, papapa.”
I think that is what made my goals so shallow in the past. I was so focused on the goal that I lost sight of the process. No matter what goal I tried, I always felt like a total failure when I couldn’t accomplish it. When the weight didn’t come off or I used too many paper towels or I read fewer books than I wanted, I just sort of gave up.
Watching Mia work toward a goal is like watching someone work a process. Mia didn’t just walk one day. It wasn’t a big surprise. She started pulling up at 9 months, started cruising a couple months later, started walking behind a walker last summer, started walking from one piece of furniture to another by last fall, and finally started walking independently at Christmas. It even took her a couple weeks after that to stand up without pulling up on furniture to start out. It may have taken her a long time to get there, but she got there. She worked hard every single day, and she got there.
While I appreciate each milestone and I am grateful for the progress, it’s the process that I find so inspiring. Nothing comes easy for Mia, but she just keeps doing it.
It may have come a little late this year, but I guess I do have a resolution for 2015 inspired by Mia – just begin the process, and if you fall on your face, just get back up before anyone notices. Oh and high fives and shouts of hoorays are required.