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My grandparents always had crossword puzzle books by their living room chairs, on the nightstands by their bed, and they never left for vacation without a few puzzle books stashed away in their bags.  When I was young they both taught me how to do crossword puzzles whenever we were together for a visit.  Several years ago when my grandfather passed away I was staying at their house and picked up one of their crossword puzzles book and started working on the next word puzzle.  My grandma offered for me to take the book home and there I had it; my first crossword puzzle book.  Up until that point I had never actually done a crossword puzzle on my own except when I was doing one with my grandma.  When I took that puzzle book home and slowly filled in the answers to each puzzle I thought of my grandpa and how much he enjoyed doing the same.  I guess it was a way to connect with and think of him during those first months that he was gone from our lives.

Well those silly crossword puzzles grew on me and have become a part of my daily routine.  Each afternoon (or as often as I can) after I put our son down for a nap I make a cup of coffee, put on an old tv show, and sit down with my crossword puzzle.  And oh how I love my afternoon coffee and crossword puzzle break!

Today I started a new crossword in my book and realized that the answer pages had been torn out of the back of the book by my sweet toddler.  Knowing that I have never completed a puzzle without peeking at the answer page, I was hesitant to even start the new puzzle.  I was sure that I would get only part way through it and not be able to finish it without the answers.  Well, I am happy to write that I did the entire crossword puzzle completely by myself, first time ever!.  I was pretty happy and surprised with myself.  (It’s silly, I know.  And please don’t judge me if you are one of those who have never once looked at the answer key!! 🙂

What does this accomplishment have to do with anything?  Surprised that I did my first crossword puzzle without the answer key made me think of how often I depend on and search for the “answers” to the multitudes of questions I have as a new parent.  As my son reaches each new stage I feel a frantic urge to research and ask other parents questions in search of the “correct” or “perfect” answer.  I wonder, like the crossword puzzles, how often I jump to looking for answers before first going with my intuition and the instinctive “answer” that seems to naturally fits my child, my personality as a parent, our family, and our daily rhythm at home.  Before giving myself a chance to discover a possible answer, I rush ahead looking for the perfect answer.

Are you like me?  Do you hurry to find solutions to your parenting problems and concerns before even allowing the unique intuition and problem-solving abilities God has given to you as your child’s mom?  It is so easy to look for that safety net of answers, advice and wisdom that is out there and to forget that God has uniquely equipped us to parent each child he has bestowed to our care.

I would never, ever advise against seeking good counsel to our vital parenting questions.  I am, however suggesting that perhaps we lose confidence in our parenting abilities and this can drive us to crazily seek the perfect “answer key” (as if there was one for parenting!!!).