Overprepared Might Mean Underestimating Life

Whose idea was this, anyway? Putting back-to-school week during the last week of summer? All that thought-required shopping with all the kids in tow? All those extra errands while we’re trying to cram in last hurrah after last hurrah? All this think-like-we’re-in-a-routine when we are living everything-but-a-routine? I keep dreaming of a way to mix it up a bit and calm it all down, but it seems like we are stuck with BTS at the end of summer.

Nevertheless, I am a fan of new pencils and fresh starts. I like staring down a new year with blind optimism. I like making goals, creating schedules, establishing patterns, and hoping for the best. I like getting it all in order.

I’m on the uber-prepared end of the spectrum. We nail down Halloween costumes in August, Christmas gifts in November, swimsuits in March, and . . . school gear in July. One can never be too prepared, right?

This year, I stole some over-prepared brilliance from a friend of mine. She hauls her back-to-schoolers down to the school the night before, fully clad in tomorrow’s garments and gear, and captures her kids in the hot photo spots when there’s no wait, no tardy bell, and no nerves. A fantastic ruse on the whole system. (After all, it’s supposed to be a rainy first day this year, and if back to school falls on a morning–which it does–there’s a good chance, we’re already running behind schedule–which we are.) The night before seemed like the perfect opportunity to document it all.

We tugged off tags and headed to school, pretending 8 p.m. was 8 a.m. We had our five-minute photo session and then headed home for a calm, but abrupt re-establishment of routine. It was on the way home that one of my too-cool-for-school children determined, in a very Adam Sandler way, “they’re all gonna laugh at [him].” From July until now, his new vintage comic-strip Batman backpack had lost its flair and suddenly stood between him and the epic year before him. Kids “weren’t really into” the “crazy” vintage look and and weren’t “familiar” with that “original comic Batman.” He was very concerned.

I’m decent at sticking with the no and delivering believable excuses. It’s Labor Day–nothing’s openTry it for a week and we can re-evaluate this weekend. You’ll start a new trendHey, look over there, it’s a squirrel!

But it wasn’t just any other night. It was the night before a year that needs to be different. And I knew my kid and knew this year need not start with unnecessary anxiety.

And that’s how I ended up back-to-school shopping with my kids at bedtime the night before school.

Although it looks midday, the sun was setting on the night before school

And that’s how we ended up with three Batman backpacks to choose from.

And that’s why I’ll be in line at all the photo hot spots, retaking all those already-taken photos, with the tardy bell ringing in my ear this morning.

Preparation doesn’t always do the trick.

I’ve been on the unfortunate end of front-ending homework only to have the professor change the assignment. I’ve accidentally worked from un-updated information. In my momlife, this overpreparedness has come back to bite me every Halloween–when favorite characters change the final week before the big day, every Christmas–when what they really want is communicated only after all the Black Friday deals have been cashed in on, every birthday–when my overplanning kicks into overdrive and the child opts for a last-minute theme change. I’ve had to do and do over. (Though often, I do not comply.)

I like to have things ready. I feel best when things are settled well in advance. I’m not a fan of winging it or scrambling to make it work.

But sometimes, that’s life. Actually, a lot of times, that’s life.

It’s okay to be prepared. It helps to be prepared. But prepared isn’t a guarantee. Preparation need be held loosely for mid-course corrections. Flexibility comes at a cost, often an emotionally-high one. But part of preparedness is being prepared to be flexible.

Perhaps that’s a better mentality for me to enter into this year with. Prepared to be flexible instead of having it all in order.

And we’re off . . . !

2 thoughts on “Overprepared Might Mean Underestimating Life

  1. Be prepared–you and the Boy Scouts. Flex is the name of the game, my dear, over-controlling friend. (Your control just looks different–I’m definitely passive-aggressive.) This is too fun–love that you cared enough about making his heart hopeful and not filled with anxiety. Great mom move.

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