This past weekend we celebrated my niece, Verity's second birthday. I love October. It is a wonderful month. The blur of adjusting to new routines has melted away and the air is ripe with the anticipation of cozy evenings filled with stories and firelight. And hope is renewed that maybe some projects might actually get accomplished.
Verity is a big Steve Light fan, so this gift was a shoe in. The bag, I made from leftover pieces of linen to help her transport small, stuffed friends. Myles stitched one strap into place, so it was really a "team effort."
However, there was a bit of cajoling involved to make that last part happen.
Yesterday evening I watched a friend gracefully parent her son. We were at soccer practice together and something happened on the field that caused this little boy to run over to us in tears looking for comfort. We didn't actually catch what happened, but as my friend dusted him off, it became clear that he had no intention of finishing out the practice. They went back and forth for a minute, but after realizing the banter was going nowhere, she let him run off and smooth his ruffled feathers in his own way. He played on the playground with the sisters, while she continued to read her book in the same spot, still half watching the practice. What she didn't do was pick that battle and force her child into submission like someone else I know would have done. Gulp.
After reflecting upon that interaction, I realize that there are too few battles that I don't pick. Many details of our home life, I am willing to fight for. The small things are important, Gosh Darnett. So shoot me that I take things pretty seriously. This is so true, that in quiet moments standing around, people will ask me, "Is something wrong? You look like you're really upset." And then I'll realize that my brow is furrowed thinking about some decision that is lying ahead of me, and try and snap out of it for their sake. (It's not that fun watching someone in deep mental labor.) "Oh, no. Im fine," I will say. "Just preoccupied with creating an unrealistic more perfect existence." This shows up in my parenting, big time. Sometimes, I will let things go, like the towel on the bathroom floor, or the lunch sack left to ripen in a backpack over the weekend. But typically I feel like I am in constant parent motion. Listening in, picking up, instructing. Blah, Blah, Blahing.
I have experienced burn out often enough to realize that I want to try to diversify my strategies. This, letting it go thing sounds amazing. It sure looked amazing on my friend. Talk about taking the pressure off.
I am in the middle of listening to this talk about play and its really making me think and consider how well I am letting my children experience risk and encounter natural boundaries, while discovering their own inclinations for good and creative endeavors. I hope that forcing myself to relinquish some control, will also support this aspect of their childhood, and make me a more gentle mother. It is certainly worth a try.