Stanton, the girls and I moved into our new house here in New York about two weeks ago. About half of our belongings—possibly more than half—remain in boxes in the basement. We’ve broken in our new home, though. The girls’ favorite books cover the coffee table; various pairs of sneakers and flip-flops clutter the back porch; and loved ones’ greeting cards, along with Grace’s preschool artwork, adorn the refrigerator.
The first few days here, I cleaned the kitchen, made the beds, unpacked the girls’ clothes (how do they have so many clothes?). I thought I could get everything “all set up” by the end of that first weekend. Ha…ha…ha.
The delivery guys for the washer and dryer needed more time than they originally estimated to maneuver the appliances downstairs. A customer service manager from a local utility company stopped by to share information. And the girls called for my help in collecting dandelions for their backyard tea party.
Interruptions to my grand plans. Distractions. Or…life.
There’s a quote I like, and you may have heard it too: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (credited to John Lennon, and Allen Saunders). As I picked dandelions with my daughters, I acknowledged that I needed to let go of my “all set up this weekend” plan. I needed to be realistic, present, flexible.
The art of letting go.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become better—more practiced—at letting go. Letting go of unrealistic expectations. Letting go of past hurt, and loss.
The other day, I saw several deer—a family, maybe—walking through a neighbor’s yard. Big, beautiful deer. I thought of my Poppy, a hunter.
Four years ago, when Poppy passed away, I would have felt a pang in my heart. Today, I still feel that hole in my life—that emotional and physical absence—but time has tempered the pain, and has helped me feel, first and foremost, gratitude for all the time we did have together.
Everyone is different. Everyone feels differently, heals differently. People become who they are based on their unique blend of nature and nurture.
For many of us, we decide how we approach each day. We can endeavor to meet all the action items we bullet-point for ourselves, no matter what, possibly becoming impatient and irritable in the process…or we can roll with the punches, grace under fire.
We can keep mourning disappointments and heartaches…or we can find silver linings in those experiences, those lessons learned.
For many of us, we decide how we approach each day.
After Grace was born, I began recording my first-time-mothering “lessons learned” into a newspaper’s parenting blog, which I later turned into my first e-book, “Diaper Bag, Coffee, Let’s Go! 237 Tips for First-Time Moms.”
That’s right, friends: 237. It was an earnest effort, my hope to provide all the encouragement and positive vibes I could to new moms who maybe were uncertain and overwhelmed as I had been.
Years later now, I’m glad I wrote that book. Other moms still buy it and let me know it’s a helpful resource, which makes me happy. And personally, “Diaper Bag, Coffee, Let’s Go!” is almost a scrapbook of that season in my life, first-time motherhood. I’m glad I wrote that book, but I probably won’t write more tip books, especially related to parenthood. Because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to let go…of trying to do everything perfectly.
And, simply, of trying to do everything all at once.
Babies need food, diapers and a warm body to fall asleep against. Basically, that’s it. (Newborn Grace didn’t care that I’d spent hours researching the best crib mattress for her color-coordinated nursery, or the top-rated baby monitor that year.) And older kids don’t care that you haven’t yet hung up the window valances in their rooms. What they say instead is, “Mom, help us pick these yellow flowers!”
(“They’re called dandelions.”
“Dan-de-lions? Like lions?”
Grace is 5; Anna’s 2. They play well together now and sleep (fairly) well at night. Stanton and I have powered through those early, oh-so-tiring years of parenthood. We’ve walked through some difficult times, together, and have made the journey through intact, with a deeper appreciation for each other. This chapter in our life feels so good, so refreshing.
Yet the thought flickered across my mind. When might the next tough thing, that we need to overcome, happen?
Just as quickly, I had to remind myself to stop. Enjoy. Live.
And let go of trying too hard, of worrying and fast-forwarding too much.
“Mom! We need more dandelions!”
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.