Hindsight Parenting: Letting Go to Hold Them Close
Spontaneity— def. “The state or quality of being spontaneous.” Control— def. “The situation of restraint.” Two words that are completely and utterly opposite in nature. I would have to admit that the old mom—the one I was or the one I am trying to shake—was the latter, always and forever the latter. Trying to control every stinkin’ situation that came or could come our way. To me, back then…maybe a teeny tiny bit even now…controlling and anticipating every nuance, nook and cranny meant that I could head off trouble; fights between the boys, accidents, trouble with school work, etc. You name it, I tried to control it. Heck, if I could have controlled the time the sun rose and set, I would have. But looking back, my controlling nature did nothing but make the household tense. Anticipating never really stopped anything from happening. Planning out every scenario never seemed to go the way I had imagined. The boys still fought. Accidents still happened. Things still occurred that hurt or stung or caused trouble in some way. Hindsight tells us then that controlling the outcomes, planning for each and every thing that may possibly happen only makes one weary and most definitely not happy or satisfied.
Then there’s spontaneity—which I have to admit is such a foreign concept to me. Doing something on impulse just hasn’t happened much in this 44 year old’s life. Things as small as a Sunday drive has to be mapped out for me otherwise it just feels like wandering. However, really…what is so wrong with wandering?…
What is the matter with jumping into a day with no plan? Dear readers, I must tell you that I can’t come up with a good answer. Not one good one.
Being more spontaneous has become a bit of an obsession of mine—(that statement is kind of controlling in nature isn’t it? I mean…if I am PLANNING on spontaneity, then it really isn’t spontaneous, is it? Ah but give the girl a break…at least she’s trying.)
My first foray into trying this spontaneity coat on for size came during Memorial Day Weekend, which ended up being a washout. Rain, rain and more rain. The control freak in me had heard the weather earlier in the week and therefore PLANNED out many indoor activities for my daughter, Ila, and I to do. But as often happens, arts, crafts and games don’t last nearly as long as one imagines and so there were many moments that weekend in which Ila and I were itching to DO something. During one of these moments, Ila walked into the kitchen and she asked, “Mama, let’s go out in the rain and jump in the puddles!” Now I have to admit to you that the dictator immediately stepped up to the podium in my mind, tapped the microphone to see if it was on and began his speech. “Jump in puddles?” It said to the synapses in my brain, “how can one jump in puddles if one doesn’t have any rain boots that fit? How can one jump in puddles without getting the bottom of one’s pants wet? How can one jump in puddles without possibly slipping and falling?”
His words, that control freak that resides in my very busy brain, almost hopped on my tongue to be spoken out loud to the hopeful toddler standing before me. Thankfully, Hindsight hip checked the despot from the podium and guided my tongue to form strange words that said things like, “YES! Let’s go! We’ll just go find our winter boots! Let’s roll up our pant legs! Our bottoms might get wet if we slip and fall…but won’t THAT be fun!!”
And before I knew it, we were outside in the pouring rain with water cascading down our smiling faces. We walked the block searching for the deepest most daunting looking puddles that would make the biggest splash. We wondered out loud if perhaps there were alligators that lived in some of those puddles, or mighty pythons that could squeeze our legs. We ran and galloped and leapt like ballerinas but landed like hippos into those glorious puddles. Water and mud and gravel flew in the air like fireworks with each plop. Ila’s pebbles-in-a-tin-bucket laughter filled the air and my heart.
When we finally returned home, soaked and sunshiny despite the downpour outside, we sat on the floor peeling off our boots and sodden socks and wiggled out of our soggy clothes. As I dried Ila off with a big fluffy towel, she moved a stuck dripping piece of hair off of my cheek and whispered, “That was the best day ever.” I hugged her tight and whispered back, “Yes it was. I am so glad you thought of it.” Spontaneity…there just might be something to this idea of letting go. In doing so, it seems, at least to me, that it helps you to hold close those that are dear to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Joel Telling]