Over the years, as the children have arrived and during times when our life has been turned upside down by my husband's work schedule (he has worked 2-3 jobs at times or been out of town often) or by illness (like the time we experiences two hospitalizations in one year for our third son), I began to learn the fine art of letting go.
I have to admit, I am not particularly good at it. But I am getting plenty of practice. I have found that even though I like things "a certain way" or feel like I can't live without ____, there usually reaches a point where inevitably, it becomes obvious one thing needs to go to allow space for sanity. And it is usually that one thing I thought I couldn't live without. Guess what. I can.
I have, like many mothers, ideas about the way things have to be. When I had two children, I had a spotless house; I dressed my children in what I wanted them to wear; I got an hour or two to myself each day; I enjoyed cooking on a regular basis; I was a size 6 and completed a triathlon; I had time to spend on personal projects that brought a sense of fulfillment. I loved to be in the middle of things and be involved in the community and volunteering! I guess I thought life couldn't change and it would always be so.
Each one of those has fallen by the wayside, although I occasionally get an hour to myself (late at night) and every year or two I can complete a personal project, like a family photo album. I am, alas, no longer a size 6 and I do not always enjoy cooking--sometimes it is just about making sure everyone is fed, and hoping the food is healthy enough!
As more children joined our family and as the kids got older, things started not always going my way. Although that's not always been comfortable, I don't think it's something that needs correcting. I want my children to grow to be their own people. For instance, sometimes one child wants to wear soccer shin guards to church under their socks or the stained tie dyed shirt to the store. I choose to pick my battles, and just go with the flow. I am sure there were a few people who thought things about me or my children I would not have liked to know about....but I am learning that what other people think does not matter.
I have been feeling stress and more than a little sadness at losing parts of myself, or my former life as I knew it. You know, the clean, well-groomed, all-about-me life. But reading a few Mom's blogs and the commentary about just letting things go has really been helping me. PB and J for dinner. Not worrying about getting a child to read perfectly by age X. Keeping only a minimum number of toys in the house to cut down on clutter. Not signing up for extra activities out side the house.
I can't tell you how inspired I am now by mothers who do not "do it all" or "do it perfectly". I used to be so caught up in doing everything right--it was well-intended, because I wanted to get this mothering thing right the first time! BUT, I forgot to trust God and allow Him to make all the imperfections right over time, too. It certainly has been a painful lesson for me to learn that I can be happy even if life has a slower pace. But the good news, is that it is getting better. I am learning!
I LOVE to read the stories of the Moms who say they survived and enjoyed raising their kids because they simplified things: they didn't worry about keeping up with the neighbors or keeping a perfect house. I really do need and appreciate the ideas mothers share on how to organize or streamline running the household, but I definitely take what works and leave the rest these days.
I am going to implement this spirit of letting go even more. I already only spot mop my floor once a week, if that...just because that's all I have energy for. But the dishes are done at night (mostly). I get the laundry washed and dried, but I don't stress about getting it put away--people can wear clean clothes out of laundry baskets as well as out of a closet.
Tonight was soup with whatever veggies were in the fridge and no frills about it. Ahhhh...just letting go can really be relaxing. I just can't believe it's taken me about 4 years to really GET IT. It's just now sinking in that life can be good, even if not ideal or perfect or "awesome" all the time. It's so much unnecessary pressure, and you know what, the kids are alright and we can be happy anyway!