Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Bunch of Swimming Ducks

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

Okay, I get it. It’s an easy way to understand the type of inductive reasoning that allows us to determine what something probably is based on its observable characteristics. And although I get it, I’m not sure I understand why the comparative example is a duck. Why not say, if it’s striped like a zebra…, or if it’s tall like a skyscraper…, or if it’s flat like a spatula…? It’s not that I have anything against ducks, but I’m pretty sure that when it comes to ducks, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get.

Next time you see a swimming duck, just watch it for a minute or two. Watch how it glides through the water so beautifully, how it floats along so effortlessly. Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? But to the duck, it’s not necessarily effortless. Well, the floating part actually is effortless because ducks float naturally, but it still has to paddle to maintain its position and reach its destination. And the faster the current on the water, the faster that duck has to paddle to stay on course. But just by looking at a swimming duck, you can’t tell how fast it’s paddling. And that’s why ducks and moms have a lot in common.

Last fall I joined a Bible study for stay-at-home moms. We meet on Wednesday mornings, and we always start with coffee and small talk. As we discuss the verses that spoke to us or raise questions about unclear passages, we're each pretty clueless about the pace of each others' currents or how fast each of us is paddling to stay on track that week. All we know is that we all appear calm, collected, and organized on the surface.

Sometimes during our small talk, we land on the topic of stress and how we constantly feel like there’s so much to do and so little time to do it. I love those conversations because I walk away remembering that I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life. Although we all call ourselves stay-at-home moms, we’re all pretty involved in church and community activities and some of us work part-time jobs as well. At any given time, we all vary in the number of demands and stressors pulling each of us in different directions. Add in housework, errands, and children, and of course it’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed. Yet, there we sit every Wednesday, all calm and collected and ready for an hour of socializing and prayer. 

Sometimes when I'm around other moms, I wonder how it's possible that they're not stressed or overwhelmed or tired, and I wonder if they're asking themselves the same thing about me. Maybe we're all thinking, "She's got this figured out. I must be the crazy one," and maybe we're right; or maybe we're all just a bunch of swimming ducks.

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