Thursday, February 11, 2010

How we learn to let go of the small things.

I was never good at letting go of the small things. I would fret if my son missed a nap, certain his sleep routine was irreversibly wrecked. If I suspected he hadn't eaten enough for dinner I'd lie awake worrying he wasn't gaining adequate weight. A tantrum in the middle of a store was as humiliating as realizing I'd been walking around with my skirt tucked into my knickers.

I wanted to be in control and believed that if I wasn't, then I wasn't being a good parent. I didn't know at the time that I simply couldn't be in control of everything, and that that was okay.

Then, some time after my second son was born, I slowly began to let go. There wasn't time to fret over trivial issues, and I didn't have the energy or patience - instead I was focused on more basic goals like making it through the day alive.

So, if crayon marks appeared on the wall, if bedtime was pushed later or naps skipped, if lunch was a muffin and half a banana, I learned to say oh well, okay, not the end of the world.

Instead of sweating over the fact that my house wasn't spotless, I ditched the housework and began spending more time reading and playing with the kids. And, amazingly, the house did not collapse around me! It was okay.

Where once I would have snarled at someone giving me unwanted parenting advice, I found myself instead nodding and politely saying, oh right okay sure (and then discarding it).

I don't know about you, but I've found that with time I've become less affected by these insignificant things. Take yesterday, for instance: I was on the phone with my school. Oliver was in one arm chirping down the receiver like a bird, Matthew was glued to my leg, tugging and interrogating me over a missing toy car, and I was trying to scribble down notes from the conversation - barely audible over the noise - on a notepad on the fridge.

A few years ago I would have been in a flap. I probably would have locked myself in the bathroom with the phone to continue the conversation. But yesterday I apologized to the secretary about the noise and carried on the conversation. I realized afterward that this scenario, which must seem chaotic to others, is just ordinary for me now.

I've learned it's good to let go of the small stuff because you save energy for better things. And besides, there'll be plenty of opportunity for stress as the kids grow up. But let's not think about that right now...
Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To Reddit Bookmark Twitter

13 comments:

Loukia said...

Excellent post. And you are so right. Once you stop fretting over the small things - life is more relaxing. I was the most uptight mom EVER with my first-born son. And with my second son, I would go out even if meant he had to nap in the stroller while I did my grocery shopping. The other day he had a yogurt and banana for lunch and I was like, 'well, okay, he'll eat better at dinner!' and when I'm in that mind-set - it's all so much better. Of course, I STILL sweat the small stuff - I wish I could be more relaxed MORE OFTEN, but I'm sure eventually... I'll get there?

P.S. Your phone conversations sounds like mine, too! Why is it that when we're on the phone, the children swarm to us like bees?

The Tompkins Family said...

It's good to hear...I'm a super control freak and am mom to a 9 month old. I still worry about her not gaining weight, getting germs from the shopping cart, etc, etc, etc! Glad to know I'll eventually outgrow it!

Sparkless said...

Great post! So very true that when we let the little unimportant things go we can enjoy what is really important. But I'd still lock myself in the bathroom for one uniterrupted phone call. LOL

James (SeattleDad) said...

Guilty as charged with Lukas. Though, lately we have been letting go and not worrying as much about the things we did in the first 2 years.

I agree, excellent post.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Yes, you are so right! Great post!

And, just you wait till you have your next one! You'll be so laid back, people will think you're asleep!! LOL

Ann said...

Lovely.

I'm so happy for you, and your family, that you've reached this point. It will save you all in the long run. (I wish I had learned it sooner!)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I wholeheartedly agree! But I have to say - there is nothing more frustrating than getting half way through the myriad of voice automated directives that fill any call to insurance companies, hospitals, etc. only to be cut off due to someone "chirping" too close to the phone. Probably the only time I ever find myself truly enraged.

Being us... said...

This could be my life exactly. My second is 6 months old now and when they say you are more relaxed the more kids your have they are right!

Amy B. said...

I'm still not there completely. I've got two boys, so I'm certainly not terribly control-freakish about stuff, but I still get way uptight when we're out in public. I'm constantly worrying about how much everyone around us hates my ids and thinks we're all ill-behaved.

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

I absolutely agree with you - there is such a different between the first and second.

With my first, I would change him the minute he got dirty, no matter where I was or what time it was. His bibs and soothers matched his outfits (Yes I laugh at this now). With my second, if she got dirty, I would throw a little cardigan over top to cover it up or just ignore it altogether.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

P.S. I've tagged you for a meme over on my blog. If you want! =)

Swankgurl said...

Good for you :) I still have a hard time with this concept. I'm slowly letting go though. S...l...o...w...l...y!

Amanda said...

I'm really working on letting things go myself!!! Having 2 kids definitely forces you to reconsider your priorities, doesn't it? But someday they'll keep each other so busy, we'll be sitting around reading great novels and eating bonbons. And still have time to work out to keep the bonbon pounds off. I hope?? :-)