“The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation... to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of the homeland towards which we walk.”
– Pope Francis
Like a lot of the country, the Delaware Valley experienced two winter storms within the span of one week which meant only one day of learning for my kids, and four days of multi-tasking for Mom and Dad. Zoom has killed the traditional snow day, at least for parents. While the work can now continue, albeit with a beautiful winter wonderland backdrop, the children now either have a free day and want to be entertained, or possibly worse, need to complete “self-paced” work that requires constant supervision. To add to the blizzard of complexity on Friday’s snow day, the main room of our house was under construction and mom was out of town for work. The weather channel was calling for a winter storm warning. With dad in charge, the children were bracing for a much bigger storm inside.
Thankfully, I was well-aware of the extremely low expectations for my parenting and had about a day to prepare. I rescheduled one or two unnecessary zooms. I engaged the younger children in a “fun” activity of brainstorming as many different things they could do during the day to see who could get the most unique list, and then challenged them to accomplish it all. I did some meal prep to make lunch a grab and go situation. I even got some beach towels to lay out in anticipation for the wet clothes that would be discarded around the front door entry of our house after playing in the snow.
Of course, by 1:00 p.m., Peter and Norah had completed all the items on their list and commenced their first fight. Thankfully, I was able to break it up patiently. After sending Norah off with a hug, she offered that it had been her best snow day yet. When I asked why, she said, “because you haven’t yelled once – it’s a miracle.” As I debated internally whether to be proud of myself for this snow day or regretful about the rest of my parenting, I could at least affirm that in this storm, preparation made the difference.
I couldn’t help but reflect on all the other situations in the prior week where I was unprepared. Certainly, it had caused me anxiety, but what about those who had to experience “anxious Dan”? As a leader, do I expect others to be prepared without living up to the standard myself? In the little and big moments of life and leadership, what are the steps I can take to help everyone show up at their best? In the moments of spiritual desolation when my relationship with the Lord feels cold and distant, have I done the preparation to remove the numerous layers that might be preventing me from feeling His embrace?
Given how the rest of the day went, I could have used a little more preparation and a lot less candy, hot chocolate, and movies, but I still think my parenting quality was moving in the right direction. As many of us seek to avoid the cold in these months, let’s be sure to warm up to the preparation we need to do in order to invite the Lord into our hearts.
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