Learning a Lesson (or Two)

Christmas at Rockefeller Center

Photo courtesy of Peter Cruise

As I’m sure many can relate, we had a very busy weekend planned.  I like time and space.  A packed schedule makes me itch, sometimes literally.  I found myself working up a lather of anxiety over everything that had to get done, all the commitments, and feeling trapped by it all.  With all of this bubbling in me, I was delighted to get the kids to bed early Friday night.  I knew part of the success or failure of the rigorous calendar would be getting them as much sleep as possible.  Given the icy reception to French Toast with bananas and maple syrup at dinner Friday, I recognized they were spent or at least that’s what I told myself when they complained about the disgusting dinner.

Post bedtime, I pulled out my to do list and started knocking things out… for the next three hours.  You’ll get the full update on everything that was accomplished in the weekly post, in short my nerves were subdued as a result of the progress made.  Near 11:00 p.m. my husband texted me to see if I was still awake, which I was and not even close to bed.  It reminded me that I needed to get to bed, which ended up taking another hour.  He got home before I was asleep.  Rare.

Lesson #1:  When your children go to bed beautifully early, you should do the same.

Littles bound into our room pre-5:00 a.m.  (You saw this coming, no?)  We laid quietly, softly and firmly encouraging her to go back to sleep… while she crawled all over us.  She man-handled my husband like someone eight times her weight.  I gave up.  Thoughts of to-dos were rushing through my head and I wasn’t going back to sleep, so someone might as well get a few more winks.  Littles and I headed downstairs for some playing and a few chores.  Groceries got delivered and put away.  I brushed hair and teeth in preparation for my date with a friend.  When we set it up, we agreed that 8:30 a.m. would have seemed ridiculous pre-kids, but now it was practical.

One of the things I especially love about this friend is that she meets me where I am (figuratively and sometimes literally.)  There aren’t judgements.  She is a priceless gift.  We talked kids, motherhood, struggles, happiness.  I did a bit of complaining, but it was really a sharing of my own angst about the days ahead not going as I desperately hoped.  In the gentlest way possible she said, “I’ve been there too.  One of the things I’ve really been working on is letting go of the outcomes that aren’t in my control.”  I still owe her $200 for the therapy session, because the light bulb went on:

I can’t control the happiness of a dozen other people.  I’m not in charge of other people’s decisions.  I could have said no to any of the commitments we had, but I didn’t, because each was important and added to our holiday celebration.  I was letting my desire to command the weekend overshadow all of the freaking awesome things we were going to do.

Our morning visit was an early Christmas present of sorts.  Not the kind that comes neatly wrapped with great anticipation as it sits under the tree.  It was the sort that arrives in the mail when you least expect and contains something of almost little monetary value, but is priceless in the thought behind it.  Her gentle words set the tone for my entire weekend.  The expectations loosened and I started to breathe again.  All this before lunch on Saturday!

The next 36 hours were joyful, messy, unexpected better than expected, and real.  I fully experienced the sparkling of our nieces and nephews awe-filled eyes and it was better than all the twinkle lights that drape the tree at Rockefeller Center.  We had a slumber party that was more tea and hot cocoa than pillow fights and sneaking out.  Breakfast with Santa got cancelled due to a rash of the flu, but it made space for a long morning of pajamas and my favorite breakfast with a table full of people that I love.  Wine from Walgreens and visits with extended family happened in spite of a completely separate flu outbreak.  The weekend was capped with cosmos at the sixth annual Friendsgiving.  I was full in the belly and heart.  As my eyes closed Sunday night, I couldn’t imagine having done the weekend any other way.

Lesson #2:  You can’t control all of your outcomes.

I’m all about doing what I can to make magic, but there comes a point where I have to release it to take on what it will be and have faith it won’t disappoint.  Big plans filled the past few days, but what made my weekend was a friend who helped me change my attitude and be present for it all.

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