Whether you have a kid or not maybe you can relate to this. When I first had my daughter every decision seemed like a battle between pushing towards the ideal world I yearned for or surrendering to reality (which happens to be a very imperfect world). I felt and sometimes still feel emotionally torn about everything from buying plastic bottles to visiting in-laws who douse synthetic, endocrine disrupting fragrances throughout their hallways and give an occasional squirt of glyphosate-containing, Roundup, to weeds or patches of the lawn. Making decisions was exhausting because it felt like damages and repercussions lurked around every corner for me, or even worse, my daughter. When I wasn’t staring googly eyed at my daughter, I saw the world through poop-tinted lenses. The world in which I lived was offensive, at best. At worst, a dangerous toxic mess would zap me with carcinogenic sludge if I let my guard down.
At the end of the day I’d take to bed with me a mountain of emotional/mental burdens. Decisions felt monumental and life altering and the truth was, they were. My life and relationships were being ruled by perceived dangers, speculative outcomes, and imagined horrors. I knew in my right mind that I could not protect my daughter, in full, every waking moment of the day. My best parenting in those early months meant showing up and setting boundaries as I went. That’s where I got into trouble. The difference between preferences and hard stops became easily convoluted when I was also responsible for making many micro decisions every single day. The powerful reign of a mother’s final say was at my disposal and I wielded it…to my detriment. I was often rigid where I needed to acquiesce, I nagged where listening might have been more powerful, and I tried to control in substitution of thoughtful and deliberate action.
Today, fortunately, that’s mostly changed. This transformation comes naturally to some mothers with experience at the helm but because I had postpartum depression the learning curve was steep. I had to actively work at it. I actually named my Instagram profile #momordinaire to capture the essence of my practice. Control was like a red, weeping, hot spot on my ass that I couldn’t stop scratching. I had to learn to let go of the things in this world that are out of my immediate control. There is no super momming this mom gig, hence #momordinaire. The super mom or “mom extraordinaire” archetype is a tired old construct that I believe formed as an appendage of toxic patriarchy. One that impacts all of us still. This does not mean I stop fighting the good fight. Far from it. What it does mean is that I ask myself this key question multiple times a day–
I ask myself if what I’m resisting hurts my well being more than it helps the cause.
Again the question is- does resisting a specific outcome hurt me more than it helps the cause? If the answer is yes, the outcome I’m resisting hurts me more than it helps a cause or outcome, I let it go. Sometimes I have to let it go over and over.
Offenses range from minor to fatal and still I have to practice. My husband stacked the dish rack so high that it’s like playing Jenga when trying to get out a bowl. Let it go. The seven non profit organizations I was donating to every month has zapped my monthly bank account balance and now I can’t afford the auto withdrawal for my 401K. Let (at least a few) go. My family member posted something political on Facebook and I really feel like he needs to know how wrong he is. Let it go. My partner adhered the labels for my daughter’s clothing on the outside of her clothes. Let it go. The rainforests are on fire and the media isn’t giving it any coverage. Let it go.
I had an exboyfriend who used to say, “when you drop your keys in hot lava, let em go cause man, they’re gone.” He thought it was hilarious. I never fully understood what it meant. I probably still don’t. But I’m reminded of this today in my current role as momma. It comes to mind when I want to control outcomes really badly. So badly, in fact, I might be thinking of sticking my hand in hot lava to grab those keys.
There’s a lot happening to derail us. Even though times are scary, reactivity and attempts to control the immediate environment tend to do more harm than actually make a positive impact. When I go into reactivity mode, there is little benefit to anything or anyone. Some call this picking your battles. I call it acceptance. People may recoil from the word acceptance in light of today’s political and environmentally catastrophic happenings. I want to clarify exactly what I’m talking about. Acceptance is not a deliberate and methodical course of action to right the wrongs happening globally or within your own community. That is activism and that’s needed now more than ever but that’s not what I’m talking about.
Acceptance means to stay present to the immediate reality and act with integrity, care of self, and care for others. It is rooted in radical self love and respect, without which there will never be respect for people who don’t look or act like us. In addition, the gift of acceptance can often bring with it a deeper understanding of power. The power I speak of is not quantifiable by force exerted. It’s not external nor is it demonstrated by muscle mass or profitability. At the risk of sounding like a Celine Dion song I’ll come right out and say it- it’s the power of love. I’m able to know a power greater than myself when I’m still long enough to allow the reactivity and inclinations to control, dominate, demand, or use force pass through me. When I’m able to pick my battles from a place of relaxed, intentional action vs adrenalized reactivity, I move towards love and away from fear.
Give me a shout out below if you’re feeling this post. I’d love to hear how acceptance has worked in your life.
“The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not from saving the planet. The planet doesn’t need saving, we do.