But first, PLAN Z!

We had been dating for seven-ish months when I stared down the line of an at-home pregnancy test. I would have pissed my pants, but there I sat, jeans around my ankles, quivering bum set to toilet seat, bladder all emptied onto that tiny, plastic, life-changing stick. Before I could wrap my mind around the whole person-growing-person wonder, I began planning. I would organize this chaos into submission.

Sorry, plans. I thought I laid you best.

Plan A involved an apron and pearl earrings, a man with a briefcase, and other such tidbits I’d picked up from re-runs of Leave It To Beaver on Nick At Nite. Plans B-G were the worst case back-ups consisting of my being a single, unwed mother and- if things got really desperate- a hooker with a heart of gold. When my boyfriend made it clear his plans to squash the whole Red Light District routine and stick around, Plan H was mostly just a sigh of relief. Together, a man, a woman, and a womb full of fetus and the unknown, we filled all sorts of alphabetically listed plans for what this future would hold. There was a plan for what to do if the baby were an alien. A plan for labor. A plan for nursery decor. A plan for some serious vaginal destruction. That plan I remember most as I has a whole 9 months to contemplate the badness of it. In the end we wound  up with a list of to-do’s sounding a lot like Red Cross’s policy for cleaning up natural disasters. We planned for names. We set up a college fund and planned for education. We planned for sports to be played and prenatal vitamins to be swallowed and holiday cards to be printed with our quickie family photo splayed across the front. We planned and planned and when a rough cry scraped into this world’s air for the very first time one night, we looked at the baby before us (bigger and cuter and more human than we had planned for) and realized that all that planning was for nought. It was Plan Z, that final, last-ditch attempt to control the unknown that we found ourselves in. It was Plan Z that we prayed and chanted, repeated and tried pretty desperately to believe in those first few months.

Plan Z, again, popped up when we moved to a new city with a newborn. When all other plans failed (the one where I made a ridiculous number of friends, the one where we would all dress like a J. Crew catalogue, and the one where I was the world’s most perfectly put-together mom), it was this simple, tired plan that saved the day from being wasted.

I planned approximately 32-and-a-half weddings when I just really wanted to plan the one. My plan for budget was unrealistic. Somewhere around Plan K, two vendors quit, one changed jobs, and so many others showed up asking for more money that I stopped, dropped, and yelled: “SKIP TO PLAN Z!”. No plan for napkin colors. No plan for rain. No plan for how to swiftly remove the alcohol from the premises if grandma got too funky for her own good on weddint day. It was this plan, this brilliant thought a friend or parent or article taught me so many years ago, that stopped the mad list making, the fretting, the worry, the very act of planning at all. If there was nothing after Z, if that was an end, then I would start there. I would begin at the finish line. I would read right-to-left. I would stand on my head.

Packing becomes harder when trying to spell backwards. ELIGARF/ PU EDIS SIHT will surely throw a mover or two for a loop. Also, I can’t very well bubble-wrap our entire house while holding a head stand. I began to worry this week, as we pack a lot of life into a lot more boxes bound for new neighborhood-dom, that maybe this one time Plan Z was not the answer. Maybe I had to go against it, list and pack and pack and list all things in tidy order. Maybe there is no getting around the A-to-Y with such a tedious task at hand.

So, I braced my blood pressure for a spike, breathed deeply so as to contain this quiet panic attack a’brewing, and started anew.

Plan A: Pack all things. Find that packing all things is easy. Receive coupon for free dinner because restaurant owner is impressed with how easily you win packing.

Plan B: No free bread sticks. Pack some things. Find that packing some things is not easy. Try to compare packing to vaginal delivery of 10+ pound baby in hopes packing seems less awful by default.

Plan C: Remember you have a toddler. Look for missing toddler in sea of boxes. Google “Legal punishment for losing toddler”. Pray for lenient judge.

Plan D: Find toddler with filthy hands. Approach. Learn that toddler has experienced a poop explosion and also enjoys finger painting.

Plan E-X: Kill self. Sometimes the least messy option.

Plan Y: Cry fresh tears into bathtub while scrubbing poop from toddler orfices. Realize you have to unpack many boxes to find simple, poop-cleansing/ sanitizing materials. Also feel shame and bewilderment that your life now comes with poop specific baggage (three boxes, two duffel bags, and a jumbo pack of bleach wipes, to be exact). You’ve got something in your hair. Too afraid to check.

Ah, and there I was again despite my best efforts to stay on track. Plan Z, I’m starting to understand, is always the last and very best answer to life’s weirdly off-track moments.

PLAN Z: Chill out, home girl. Everything will be just fine.

I don't know how cool I look with booty junk in my hair, but I will certainly try.

Tell me your best laid plans gone awry moment!

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21 thoughts on “But first, PLAN Z!

  1. 33 years as high school teacher – you sure better have plan A , B, C and beyond. It is absolutely astonishing what can possible go wrong to force you to adjust your plan for any particular day.

  2. Every plan I have ever made has backfired. Therefore, I wing it with gusto all the time.

    Oddly, life is easier that way.

    I hope the packing goes without incident, and the move is a breeze. You can burn your packing tape when you get there. :)

  3. I adhere to Plan M myself, which stands for “make it up as you go along.” Even though it’s no plan, it fools people – chiefly myself – into thinking I have a plan.
    And sadly, my best laid plans gone awry moment also involved a toddler, feces, and her finger painting. Two degrees of separation…

  4. There was this one time, standing on a swaying bridge over the Pansjiri Gorge in Afghanistan fighting off bandits with a chipped cutlass and a rougish smile. I was cut off from the Mekhtar’s incredibly nubile daughter by waves of angry Pathan tribesmen that wanted nothing more than to cut out my living heart. In a last ditch effort, I cut the ropes to the bridge, seeking to grab one of severed lines and swing past the tribesmen falling to their deaths to the opposite side of the gorge and to the girl’s dark eyes and heaving bossom. Unfortunately, the rope was not long enough and I was left hanging in the middle of the gorge, exposed to the Pathan’s gunfire. I thought to let go and plunge into the icy river below….and then the Kraken showed up and I realized that my master plan was not going to work.

    All and all, just another day in the United States Army.

  5. Oh goodness well let me just say a cringe at the thought of packing! Good luck… as for plans well they seem to always go the opposite way from what I had intended so I try to plan very loosely now. Just going with the flow seems to work pretty well so far!

  6. Well… there was the plan to graduate with my B.Admin in June 2005 and enroll in the MBA program in fall of 2005 and raise the glass ceiling sometime before 2010. I did complete my undergrad on time, then I got pregnant convocation weekend. ‘Nuff said :-)

  7. Listen, dear Tori, if your plan for packing and moving even remotely resembles your brilliant, if unorthodox, wedding planning, you may have a Very Bloggy Move on your hands–memorable as that rooftop on a lovely April evening. Hang in there. Breathe. Wish I were there to help.

    And the more borderline insane the event itself, the better the writing about it on the other end.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

  8. I think I gave up planning when I realized that, eventually everything gets done and things that are supposed to happen happen. Of course, my life has stopped following any sort of plan for so long now, perhaps I gave up planning because my plans never really work. Life happens. You’ll get there. Relax.

  9. I’m 37yo with a 16 yo daughter, SAHM to my 4yo, living in the burbs with no desire to continue a career. Not my original plan but loving every minute of it.

  10. What is that famous line? Life happens when you’re busy making plans.

    When plans fail, make a list. :)

  11. I love plans ~ like you, I had and have many rambling around in my head. Unfortunately, many of the plans shift and change as I and life shift and change ~ most for the better though. Now that my partner is in his 12th year living with Parkinson’s, plans are definitely different. I’ve learned to be more flexible, more patient and how to love every unusual, lovely moment life has.

  12. I fail at planning ALWAYS. I think I like to have everything in order, but it turns out I roll best when I’m just going with the flow. Breathe. Drink. Breathe again. ;)

  13. I planned to get up on time this morning, but baby girl slept in and I did, too. (No make-up? No problem.)
    I planned to be done with college before I had baby #1. Then I planned to be done with my associate’s degree before baby #1. She will be 6mos when it’s complete–if all goes according to plan.
    I planned for the pearls and apron as well. The thought makes me laugh out loud now. I think I like plan Z best of all.

    Love this post, as usual. I hope the rest of the move goes smoothly and remains relatively poop-free.

  14. Plans are good, so long as they are not carved in stone, be fluid and maintain good intentions for yourself and those around you (and those that are unwittingly part of your plan) and things will usually come out alright, maybe not like you expect but alright any way.

  15. So many plans didn’t pan out, where do I begin? we moved several times when I was pregnant and when I either had a toddler, or a baby or both. We moved to North Carolina and came back to Maine (while seven months pregnant) I remember crying and unpacking and laughing hysterically. Finally I learned to let things go and go with it. Still have to learn this from day to day! Hang in there, Tori.

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