For this little control freak, going with the flow can be an excruciating experience. But going with the flow is exactly what you need to be able to do when dealing with busy little boys. This I know, that’s for sure.
Having control is my little crutch- the only way I know how to run a tight ship with my family and house, and so I lean on it like never before. Although I was always a bit of a control freak, when I became a mother the obsession with control actually spiralled out of control. It began as the only way I thought would help me maintain some semblance of balance and sanity in my hectic life. So, I’ve clung tightly to my methods.
I control family and household responsibilities like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Things must get done; they will get done – distractions be damned! Each of those crumbled, dozen sticky notes lying around the house have a purpose, as does the business center set up on most days in my kitchen, and the incessant clock watching I usually find myself doing as I knock things off my to do list with alarming efficiency.
In the sorry little world I’ve built up around me, success is measured by whether the massive to-do list gets done in clockwork efficiency. I’m not bragging. I know it’s not a pretty picture. But, it’s true.
The other day, Billy said he liked being with all of his grandparents and with daddy because they like to play. Gasp! “What about mommy??” I asked in shock. My mind traveled over the countless hours of knocking around with my boys through all parts of our days – taking them to practice, supervising homework and play dates, chatting through afternoons of snacks, errands and…tasks.
…And, that’s when it hit me. Good Lord, I don’t play!
Sure, I am completely present with my guys. We chat and joke through our days. I know every detail of their every movement. But, still… Steve can sit for hours on the couch throwing the ball to the kids in an impromptu game of “living room catch,” simply because that is the very thing the kids want to do at that time. But, I’ll spend my time chatting with them as I wash dishes, prepare lunches, answer emails, and otherwise man the ship.
The ugly truth is that it’s just not in my nature to put the routine aside and kick back and throw a ball around. When would the chores get done if I’m not doing them?
Billy did not realize he said something that pierced my heart. But, really, he did me a favor. He had unwittingly put a mirror in front of me and I didn’t like what I saw. Eddie did the same thing earlier today when he sauntered into the kitchen to retrieve me. “Come on, mom. The Patriots Party isn’t a party without you,” he said. I had gravitated away from them in order to complete tasks on my weekend to-do list when I was supposed to be enjoying a day in the living room with them watching Sunday afternoon football.
The afternoon started off great. We cuddled on the couch and watched our beloved New England Patriots. But, somewhere along the line, the unfinished tasks on the weekend to-do list called me back. And, that’s when Eddie called me out.
My kids don’t know, nor do they care, about the myriad of tasks worthy of superwoman that I attempt to achieve in one afternoon. They don’t know about the precious half hour I sometimes pencil in for myself in the event the stars happen to align and the to-do list magically gets done, “me time,” incidentally, that I am prepared to protect at all costs, but that I only occasionally see.
My friend once mused that she’d love to live one day of her life through her husband’s eyes and with his devil-may-care perspective.
Upon seeing life through Steve’s eyes, maybe I could better learn to ease up on the “list” and just play. Maybe I’d realize that the list, in its entirety, really does not need to get done at all. Maybe then, I could ease up on my compulsively tight grip on control.
Nothing tugs at the heartstrings quite like my boys’ big eyes and pleading voices as they tug at my side and ask me to play.
Begrudgingly, I must admit that Steve is right once again.
When I became a mother, I tightened my grip on control in order to be able to get work done and have time to enjoy life’s fleeting moments, but it seems the opposite has happened.
I now realize that it’s time to throw up my hands and play. Life is too short to do anything less.