I love this quote from Winston Churchill. I’ve decided to adopt it as the new tag line for my life. (What, you’re telling me that you don’t have a tag line for your life? Get one, my friend, and share it with us all.) I’ve chosen this particular phrase as my Guiding Light in an effort conquer the giant stumbling block I’ve never conquered in all my blue-personalitied days: making decisions.
Are you decisive and confident, like my husband, or indecisive and neurotic, like me? Do you make up your mind and then move forward unbridled, or do you survey everyone you know (including and especially your three faithfuls), think about it, pray about it, think about it some more, then make a hesitant, halfway decision, only to regret the path you’ve taken before you’ve even began taking it? Have mercy, I’ve just described my own decision-making process.
I am a flounderer. I stink at making decisions, large and small. Derrick dreads pulling into a drive-thru with me because he knows that nothing terrifies his wife more than a screen with eighty different menu options staring her down. The brightly-lit board sits expectant and menacing, with a powerful but hidden stranger who is waiting–along with five carloads of people behind us– for me to decide on just one thing to eat. Don’t they understand that this is the only food I will have for the next two to three hours? I mean really. Where’s the fire?
Imagine my angst in grocery stores, clothing stores, and furniture stores, not to mention farmers markets, flea markets, and stock markets. (I threw that last one in to impress. As if.) Imagine the terror I experienced at the tender age of twenty-five when someone put a Choosing Your Baby’s Name book in my hands for the first time. Already reeling with loop-de-loop hormones, I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes, opened the book, and stuck my finger on a name. I wrote it down on a little piece of paper and put it in my coat pocket so I wouldn’t forget to bring it to the hospital. Hopefully the baby’s gender would match up with the name that I’d picked out, but if not, c’est la vie, because I wasn’t about to go through that hellish choosing process again.
Are you a Churchill or a wuss? Now in fairness to us wusses out there: along with this wussiness comes a flexibility that allows us to work well with others and manage the unexpected pretty easily. This is a nice trait to be sure, but it doesn’t help me choose between a chicken sandwich or a salad, a brown or black picture frame, if twelve is too young for makeup, or whether or not we should have another baby. (My husband will be so happy I brought up that last one.)
One day, after a particularly grueling decision needed to be made regarding whether or not my children should ride the school bus, my decisive husband let me in on a little secret. He said, “Jen, I just make a decision and figure that even if it’s the wrong decision, I can always go back and fix it later.” Judge if you will, but I’m telling you, this was something of a revelation to me. I had always seen decisions as so right-or-wrong, so permanent, such an unforgiving mark of my character and judgment. But here was my Best Faithful telling me I could mess it all up, and everything would be okay.
I could order the chicken sandwich and if it was terrible, lunchtime would happen again tomorrow. I could always swap out the black frame for the brown and tell my daughter that I’d changed my mind about eyeshadow (too bad.) And I can enjoy the children I have and stop worrying about the ones I don’t. It will all, somehow, work out.
So I’ve decided that from this post forward and with my three faithfuls as my witness, I will honor Mr. Churchill by choosing action over inaction, lumpy and awkward as that action may be. When I am not sure what to do–which is about ninety-percent of the time–I will close my eyes and just do, and have faith that it will all, somehow, work out.
I will keep deciding and re-deciding how to parent my children, because what really matters is that I care enough to decide. I will keep writing dorky things on my blog that might make me sound dumb, because sounding dumb once in a while is better than not writing anything ever. And, like I did this morning, I will keep semi-dancing while I run down tenth avenue, especially when Shawn Mullins needs me to bust out air-drums while jamming with him on my iPod. Because an out-of-shape mom who dances while she runs is better than an out-of-shape mom who doesn’t run at all. At least that’s what I’ve decided.