I like to do less and wouldn’t we all like to enjoy our lives more? But what exactly do the authors mean by minimalist parenting, was a question that I wondered. Do they advocate living like Tibetan monks? Eschewing possessions and leaving our children to play with sticks? Does it mean letting your kids run wild with minimal parental interference? Is it hands off parenting?
Turns out it was none of those things.
My nine year old daughter is a perfectionist.
This past six week marking period she got her first ever B. She stomped up to her room and slammed the door. It hadn’t occurred to me before this that perhaps being a perfectionist had a negative side.
I made a conscious effort to figure out what would make me the happiest. What things gave me the most bang for my buck, so to speak. And the rest I just let go. Is there a way to just be happier? Or is the real secret to stop making yourself crazy with the things that don’t matter?
The years will fly by, I know right now you can’t believe that. But I am telling you as I sit on the other side of parenting, eighteen years in, that they will. Each year picks up speed. Life has a momentum that you cannot imagine today, in the early years when a day lasts an eternity.
I always loved back to school season when I was a kid. The new clothes, new shoes, crisp notebooks that were not yet written in, sharpened pencils and pens at your disposal. It marked the beginning, a fresh start. No matter what had happened the previous school year, the slate was wiped clean. It seems then a more fitting time of the year to make some resolutions.
My kids start school in a few days. After our long, hot, busy summer, I know I should be really excited that we’re getting back to our regular routine. I mean, who isn’t happy when school resumes? Last year my friends and I actually popped open a bottle champagne at the bus stop. But this time, I’m feeling a little sad that they can’t stay home just a little while longer. I know, what the hell is wrong with me?
The lasts are hard for me to deal with. Mostly because when they are happening we don’t know that they are the last. We have no reason to mark the occassion as special or set it aside as being different than any other day. We are just going on like it is a regular day. It is only in retrospect, in looking back, that the event has any importance.
2011 was a tough year for me on many levels. I want to box it up and put it away and never think about it again. It was a year where I lost my joy. I spent most of the year going through the motions, doing what needed to be done, but not really doing any of it well. This year I am determined to get it back and make my family happier in the process.
I happen to think that people need to chose their words carefully. To think about the consequences of those words. To think beyond their own personal validation. Are you willing to risk relationships with the words you chose to write? What matters more to you? And what if those relationships are with your children?
I always liked Lent; I remember it being a time to have a redo of your New Year’s resolution. It was a time when you could choose to do something or sacrifice something for 40 days. And 40 days was a lot more appealing than 365 days. Even now as an adult I still use Lent as a time to reflect and maybe make some changes that will stick around after the 40 days are over.
Nothing really prepares you for becoming a mother. Sure, people tell you what to expect, but until you actually have a kid or two, their words mean nothing. Needles in your spine? Dignity lost on the delivery table? You think after hearing everyone’s labor delivery nightmare stories that nothing else will shock you.
My nearly man-sized child is sitting with me in the pediatrician’s office awaiting his physical. I look around at the harried new moms with the tiny babies strapped into carseats, the screaming toddlers jumping off of the wee chairs and the waiting room strewn with toys. Soon I won’t be bringing my son here anymore….
I have discovered over the years that mothering isn’t about the big issues: breast vs. bottle, to circumcise, or not, cry-it out or never sleep again… No, the things that matter most are the little things, the small lessons we pick up along the way. They are the legacy we pass on to our children. They are the things are children will remember us for, good or bad.