I love the color gray. It is the perfect balance of dark and light, old and new.
It is me. I’m gray.
There are plenty of negative connotations associated with gray. Physically, it can be a sign of age. Mentally or emotionally, it could be a dark cloud, depression, a dullness. But for me, it is living life to its fullest.
It seems as though the world right now wants us to choose sides on everything from politics to potty training. And that’s fine. I absolutely believe it’s important to have an informed opinion. But sometimes that viewpoint isn’t going to be packaged neatly in a box with a bow. Sometimes it’s going to be like gift-wrapping a bike. Have you ever tried wrapping one of those (and a giant plastic bag doesn’t count)?
Sometimes you’ll come to a place where you have to make a decision and it requires compromise — a choice that lands you in gray territory. In fact, now that I’m a mom, I find this to be the case quite often.
Pick any stage of parenthood you’d like, but I’ll choose toddlerland, as that is my current location. Before I had children, I remember making notes of the things I knew I wouldn’t do — what I wouldn’t give into, wouldn’t let them eat, wouldn’t let them watch. A predetermined, one-end-of-the-spectrum way of parenting.
And then one day, you find yourself sitting on the kitchen floor, crying next to your child – who is also crying – because you have asked him for the um-teenth time to finish his grilled cheese sandwich and all he wants are Dory cookies. Crossroads. Do I stand my ground, fearful that if I don’t his eating habits will be ruined? Or do I give in to the cookie since I’m exhausted because I’ve been at work all day and selfishly, I want to enjoy some time with my son instead of listening to him wail?
Both. I do both. I meet him a little closer to the middle, asking for one more bite instead of eating the whole sandwich, and if he does so, he’ll get one cookie, not ten.
This is such a simple example, but I find that it plays out over and over again in my life. I can’t always be black and white with my decisions or my thinking and I don’t want to be. That approach means I am looking for a clearly defined answer or solution, rather than living in the moment and adjusting to my circumstances and oftentimes, their complexity.
Living a gray life does not mean setting aside my moral compass or the things that are inherent to who I am. It does mean that I allow those things to guide me, rather than a label, a parenting book, a societal trend. It means digging in rather than defaulting, taking the time to focus on what I really want and care about. And what will my children learn from this way of thinking? Hopefully, they’ll see their mom living a life filled with love, compassion, humility. They’ll understand that there isn’t always a right or wrong way to do something, and it’s ok to discover their own viewpoint.