Letting Go

By Megan

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Parenting-wise, I tend to do things my own way. Among the mothers on the block, I’m THAT one – the different mother, who nurses her kids for sweet forever, drives the pediatrician crazy with her delayed immunization schedule, (mostly) insists on organic, natural foods and listens to public radio in the car. I put my kids to bed early and have only bought them ice cream from the ice cream truck once, (ever, in FOUR YEARS of living here), plus I keep the TV off all day long and we don’t own a single Playstation, DS or Wii.

Gosh, reading that, even I’m finding myself a little annoying. (I sound a lot like MY Mom!) No, actually, I’m good with most everyone else’s choices and I’m always open to advice from other parents and respect my fellow Moms so much – we’re all doing what we think is best for our kids! I do (or don’t do) all those things for good reasons, which are the same reasons any other Mom makes her own choices, with a quirky little edge of ME-ness. Trouble is, overall, I’m also a bit uptight with my kids most days (does this surprise you?), which I chalk up to my well-known battle with perfectionism and tendency to want to keep everything in my charge tightly under my control. Clean, neat, organized, ordered, structured, purposeful, productive all equal successful in my book.

It’s a battle, though, with two small kids. Every day, more and more, and most especially on these long, flowing, fresh, natural days of summer, I feel like I’m holding back a burgeoning dam of spontaneity and wantonness – and you know what? WHY? Why am I doing this to my crazy, sweet, imaginative, curious, mucky little kids? Do I really want them all neatly pinned down and trapped within my tidy little boundaries?

OH HECK YEAH, I DO!

Sigh.

Only no, I really, really don’t.

So I’ve been consciously letting go this summer. Of some things. Not of the BIG things that still really do matter to me, but of the small things, that right now really do matter to them.

I’m lettin’ ’em get muddy. And wet. Maybe even stinky (but not TOO stinky!). I’m buyin’ ’em ice cream, in CONES if they want, at least once a week. I’m giving them sidewalk chalk and bubbles and who knows maybe one of these rainy days even the dreaded finger paints. I’ve let them stay up past bed time every once in awhile and play outside after dinner instead of throwing them immediately into the bathtub. We’re having pajama days and flip-flop excursions and occasionally our clothes don’t match and I’ve successfully stifled my proud desire to shout to the people who see us draped in our weird hodge-podges of colors and styles and seasons, “SEE THAT OUTFIT? I DID NOT CHOOSE THAT OUTFIT.”

I’m willing myself to stop lying awake at night stewing over the hideous mess in the basement playroom (it is truly awful, but it’s FUN!) and I’m leaving the kitchen table sticky after breakfast when the kids want to go out and drive their cars on the back porch in the rising sun.

And when the sun sets at the end of the day, I’m asking myself not so much “did they eat all four food groups at every meal and go to bed in spotless bedrooms” but “did they soak up enough sun, giggle their heads off, get dizzy from spinning and go to bed happy?”

And so far, I think they are.

Megan also blogs at FriedOkra.

7 Responses to Letting Go
  1. Jeni
    June 21, 2010 | 5:25 pm

    It’s a tough balance to strike, isn’t it?? I find myself saying, “NO.” to my daughter WAY too often, for things that aren’t even important – I just think they’re too messy or too involved or too for-goodness-sakes-you-just-had-a-bath. I need to let go a little bit and let her (and her 13mo brother) explore, and wander, and poke in the mud with sticks, and get sweatyfilthydirty and GROW.

  2. Candace
    June 21, 2010 | 5:35 pm

    It is hard to strike the balance. I am that parent that is different like you. We do eat organic, no junk food, bedtime at 8 pm everynight regardless, schedules, no tv,etc. But I am trying to find a working balance. Hey I let my son pet a small snake at the Zoo over the weekend, that should count for something right? It is even harder when you have other parents that seem to critic your parenting as well. My neighbors and random strangers seem to always have an opinion on my son being an only child. Good luck and know you are not alone!

  3. Kelly
    June 22, 2010 | 11:40 pm

    Good for you.

    I fight this battle right along side you. But like you, I’m recognizing the need I have to let go of my perceived control and just enjoy more. Dirt, disorder and ice cream for dinner every once in a while are OK – and in fact, make for great memories.

  4. Carrie
    July 5, 2010 | 10:23 pm

    Aw, how sweet – I am the same way about my kids schedules (not so much the food stuff) – if it’s time for their naps, i get really stressed about it! And you should see the pages of instructions I leave for a babysitter! 🙂 I’m trying to relax more this summer, too, and with having to work at camp & leave my kids a couple mornings a week (only 3 more weeks of work to go!), I’ve just had to! 🙁

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