I’m watching my children take their grandparents’ hand and excitedly walk into Toys R Us. Years ago, I would’ve tried to tightly control what my parents bought and which toys. Today, I find myself learning to delight in the moment, giving grandparents a break, and instead focused on what matters more than control.
Years ago, in the early years of motherhood, I wanted (and tried) to control it all. I’d come down hard on my parents. I said a lot of “that’s too much!” and “that’s not the right way!” to my parents who only desired to delight in my children and support me in my new journey of motherhood.
I can look back now and see how much I was vying for control. I’d try to control the small details – like what color clip my daughter puts in her hair, the size of the ice cream cone as a treat with grandpa, their sleep, etc.
This vying for control was really about trying to control what inevitably can’t be controlled. I can’t control the exact outcome of my children’s lives. I can encourage, support, and nurture. I can try and keep them safe. But they may get hurt. They may get their hearts broken. They may make some “not so good” decisions. Illnesses happen. Heartbreaks happen. Someone may get sick. Someone may die.
We don’t like to think of those things. We want to try and keep all that at bay. So we focus on the small stuff. We vie for control. We get irritated with our parents, our partner, and ourselves.
The fact is parenting is caring for another human being and nourishing their “personhood” is a huge responsibility, an awesome task. And the fact is we can’t control it all – and trying to creates a whole lot of suffering.
Last year, we had some big scares happen in our family. Through these experiences I found myself noticing that there are more important things than control.
What matters more than control?
~ Watching the way my four year old daughter brings her hand to her grandpa’s cheek and how he lets her win at chess.
~ Watching my seven year old son climb into my mom’s lap at the ice cream shop and I take her bowl so she can put both arms around him for as long as it’ll last.
~ Hearing my daughter ask papa to put the windows down in his car so she can “feel the power of the wind.”
~ Seeing the delight on my children’s face from Toys R Us with their grandparents once a year.
~ Watching my kiddos climb on their grandpa, like bear cubs on their papa bear, as they watch TV.
What matters more than control?
~ Creating the space for joy to flow in abundance.
~ Making time for nourishing my children’s relationship with their grandparents.
~ Allowing the space for my parents to be grandparents.
And while yes, limits are necessary in our parenting, I’m finding that I can let go of some of the stringent limits I placed on my parents as grandparents…and instead focus on the bigger picture. That creates a whole lot of spaciousness and joy. To me, that matters more than control.
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