Learning to Let Go

My husband and I loaded the kids, the dog, and everything else we needed for a couple days on the road into the car late Friday morning. He’d already been into work earlier that morning, into which time I’d tried to force an entire day’s worth of grading, emailing, and student meetings while our three kids raced around me, seemingly intent on destruction.

“How’d this morning go?” Eli asked after telling me about how he somehow managed to accomplish everything he needed to at work in a few short early morning hours. Fricking genius.

“Uh…” I told him about the morning, including how the dog ate two Lincoln Log toys and a crayon the toddler offered him, and how said crayon was spit back into our carpet, where it was ground into a fine red/beige carpetty blend underfoot by feet and paws alike.

He raised an eyebrow.

“Once you leave the house, we generally just cascade into anarchy.”

“Seriously,” he laughed.

Our goony, crayon-eating dog.

“What would we do without you?” I proceeded to explain to him how all of this was actually a good thing, despite evidence toward the contrary. It’s showing how I’m learning to let go.

It’s not that I used to be a control freak, exactly; it’s just that, yeah, I kind of used to sort of be a bit of a control freak. More or less. That’s changed over the last couple of years.

Honestly, I should probably talk more about my many faults because we try so often online to veil our real life issues. None of us has all the answers.

However, fortunately for you all, I discovered that as part of remuneration for the horrible luck of being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer at age 32, I was actually given All Of The Answers. And I’m here to grace you with them in excruciating detail.

Just kidding, of course, though cancer honestly did give me a new outlook on many things. One of its perks. I’ve determined cancer as a young adult has precisely two perks: one is getting a new outlook on life, leading you to live your life more fully, empathetically, and beautifully than you likely would have without an epic cosmic gut-punch to your mortality. The other is this amazing program called First Descents, full of awesome people who are apparently going to take me surfing for a week, on the house, next month. Thank you, First Descents! Hopefully I’m not eaten by a shark. Now, that would be ironic.

What I realized about control over the last couple of years is that so much of life is out of my control, and that sometimes what is in my control needs reprioritizing. That’s what led me back to my writing, but it’s also led to changes in my work habits and in my family life.

Two and a half years ago, I kept a strict schedule and a cleaner house. I was the only one who would drop off our kids at daycare/school and pick them up. My husband’s sometimes chaotic work hours honestly made it easier for me to do this, but even when his hours were flexible, I never asked for help; I was too stubborn to do so, and I figured I knew where everything was and the “right way” to drop off the boys, whatever that means. I was working two teaching jobs, and I was convinced that I needed to build so much of my classes from scratch, because apparently, I could make all my materials better than everyone else has been making similar materials for years.

I wasn’t super annoying, I swear; I just worried about my students and my kids too much, and that’s what led to a lot of my desire for more control. I worry less now. I realized that worrying is when you focus too much on the past or too much on the future. Too much time is spent in the “what ifs”. If you live fully in the moment, you have less to worry about. (Side note: yes, I am plagued by worries about cancer recurrence, but I have those mostly under control at the moment.)

Enjoying fun in the moment with one of my little nieces over the weekend.

So, although I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to on Friday, I let my worries go flying through the air like Elsa’s snow rage. (Or is it Anna? We’re not big Frozen fans.) Did I eventually get around to it all? Yes. Was our stuff packed haphazardly for our trip? Yes. But, did it all get there? Also, yes.

And maybe I turned on my kids’ favorite songs and we just danced in the kitchen for a chunk of Friday morning, too, probably causing some of our delays in packing and some of our dog’s troublesome eating habits. At least we enjoyed a little more time in the moment.

14 thoughts on “Learning to Let Go

      1. Putting that into perspective, I used to follow a strict itinerary whenever I ran errands — and even here in blogging. Nowadays, I just go “gimme a list of stuff to buy and let’s see where the trip takes me, as long as I bring home all the items on the list.”

        Blogging-wise, I followed a strict schedule during my early days: all posts out by Wednesday. But now, as long as I accomplish at least one post a week, that’s good enough for me.


  1. Aww what a lovely message. It’s definitely not easy, distinguishing between the things we should and shouldn’t (or can and cannot) control. But I love how you said that worry is spending too much time in the future. I’d add that being melancholic is a sign that we’re spending too much time in the past. And it’s hard, but NOW is where we should always strive to be. Thanks for this post and reminder to live well!

    Liked by 2 people

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