Tuesday, March 30, 2010
This year I have been participating in a bit of a Lenten experiment. Instead of giving up chocolate, desert, or wine, I have given up something else entirely: control. Those who know me may be surprised. I'm not your typical "control freak." My house gets messy, my children get messy, I seem pretty relaxed. But the truth is, I cling to order and control. I think that as a mother, or as any other person who's involved in a high risk/ high energy occupation, order and control can be lifesavers. Routines are wonderful. Plans end up saving you time and energy in the long run, because who has the time to take two extra grocery runs mid-week?
But plans can also be obstacles: obstacles to listening to a unique idea presented by your child that doesn't fit into your schedule; obstacles to enabling your partner to do something that is meaningful and wonderful to him or her; and (and this has taken a while to sink in), ultimately obstacles to listening to the voice of God. During the first few weeks of this season, there were many times that I felt like the ground was pulled up from under me. Little things: a change in our dinner plans, a revamping of our children's schedule, just felt wrong at times. The control person in me wanted to fight for maintaining order, for clinging to that false sense of security that control can usher in. But instead, and this was a challenge, I just sort of went with it.
There have been times that things have fallen apart. Dinner has been an egg sandwich when it was supposed to be a roast. The children went to bed without a bath, the house wasn't clean. And there certainly is that little nagging voice in the back of my head that wants to say, "I told you so! I could have held this together better." But giving up control has given me the beautiful gift of being tuned in to the subtleties of the voice of God in the day to day. Like the serenity of a springtime walk, even if it happens to be four runny nosed humans taking that walk. Or welcoming unexpected help from neighbors with our older daughter which enabled me Ben and Lily to go for a run together (a rare treat!). And I think that it has also given the people in my family: my husband, my daughters (okay, mainly the older one... Lily's just a baby!) the gift of feeling my trust in their ability to make their own decisions. And ultimately, isn't that one of the goals of marriage, parenthood, friendship? Supporting the people you love to make their own decisions and mistakes and discoveries? And somehow, in that ambiguity, in that leap of faith that dangles in the chasm between certainty and uncertainty, I truly believe that we can feel the presence of God, the voice of God in our daily lives.
My mother recalls that one of the few observations my preschool teachers had to make was something to the tune of, "Adele? She's a boss." That is a gift. But learning to take a deep breath, readjust my expectations and go along with something totally unexpected is also a gift. And for once, I think that I have a Lenten resolution that will stick come Easter day.
This blog is a part of Steady Mom's 30-minute blog challenge.