Two weeks ago, I was standing in my kitchen doing a jig, as I sent them out the door to school because, finally, I had the house to myself.
I am constantly living in the tension of wanting more time to myself and wanting this time with my kids to never end. How do I reconcile myself to this paradox that lives within me?
The home video pops on again in my head:
The mom (me) eagerly pushes the kids out the door in the mornings, over and over again. The years go by and we see them grow from preschoolers to tweens to full fledged adolescents. And then one day, she sends them out the door with a kiss or a cheery wave, and they don’t come back. Because it’s the last time, and now they’re off to live in the world as adults.
My breath quickens and my eyes begin to prickle with tears.
In real time now, I am watching them through the sliding glass doors. They are outside on the deck, having just gotten out of the pool on this summer-like May day. One is working on homework at the table and another is watching over her shoulder. The third is gearing up for his bike ride and chatting about how good the pool will feel after his ride.
Can I bottle these moments? Or at least the feelings of contentment and pleasure that come into my heart in watching them? Because there are also so many difficult moments - when people are being insensitive or ignoring directions or insisting that they know what’s best.
As if they sense the road my thoughts are heading down, they start to get silly. I see the oldest drawing on her little brother’s face amidst giggles. I swallow the reproach that is on the tip of my tongue. It is a sweet interaction, so I pretend not to notice.
I have an inkling of awareness as I write this that the dissonance shows up in matters concerning control. When my son draws on himself even though I have asked him not to, my control buttons get pushed. When all three start laughing at full volume and flailing around on the couch because someone has told a fart joke, and I am trying to work quietly at the table, I get irritated because I am not in control of my environment.
In the bigger picture, I am wanting to control how quickly they grow up. If time were frozen, I could feel in control. As they grow up, less and less is in my control.
What would it be like to need less control? I feel my shoulders go down a notch, just in asking that question. Clearly, I would have less tension in my life, at the very least.
If I needed less control, I would have fewer arguments with my kids about their volume or exuberance levels. If I needed less control, I would have more patience for things getting done differently than how I would do them. If I needed less control, I would be more relaxed when faced with new or unfamiliar situations.
Perhaps it would be easier to traverse the hills and valleys of parenting if I invited ease into my step and let go of needing to be the one holding the roadmap at all times.
For today, that means letting marker on the face be no big deal. It seems like a good place to start.
Where does the desire for control show up for you? What would be the impact of letting go of some of that control?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.