Sweating the Big Stuff

Image by PNASH / Flickr.com

I’m coming up on a one year anniversary. One year since I made a HUGE leap of faith and moved to a new state.  The move came on the heels of a life-changing event:  divorce.

Looking back on it now, I wonder sometimes where I found the courage to do it. I also wonder if I was slightly–well–CRAZY at the time. I came here only knowing where I WANTED to work, but not knowing if I would actually get that job. I did. I came here knowing I was moving into a nice house with even nicer landlords, but I didn’t know if I’d like where I live. I do. I came here not knowing how in the world I would ever manage to work nearly full time (after having always been home caring for my kids) and raise four kids mostly on my own and do all that comes under that umbrella. I have. Have I excelled at it? Probably not. Most nights, when my head hits the pillow, I feel like I’ve done just barely enough to scrape by and keep my kids out of the foster care system.

Hitting a one year mark like this causes a mom to do a little reflecting. I’ve been thinking about what this year has taught me. I’m sure I could fill a novel with all the lessons I’ve learned—some of them very reluctantly and some of them still in progress—in the last twelve months. The one thing that seems to stand out is that I’ve learned to let go of a good many things. My house is no longer the cleanest on the block. My car gets washed once a year…whether it needs it or not. My clean laundry might sit in the basket for a couple of days before it gets put away (wrinkled) in the drawers. My girls don’t always leave the house with perfectly combed hair complete with rubberbands and barrettes. My floors can go unswept for days and days and days and I’m ok with it. Well, sometimes the ants force action on my part, but mostly I’m just ok with it. I even leave dirty dishes in the sink for a whole day and night sometimes!

I’ve learned that much of the stress in my life was manufactured in my head.  I’ve found that it can be liberating to let go of those things that simply don’t matter. So what DOES matter?  Are my kids safe and healthy?  Do they leave the house every day knowing mommy loves them?  Do they know how happy I am to see them when I pick them up from the sitter or when they get home from school?  Am I making time for them, collectively and individually, so that all of these changes that have shaken their little foundations will be easier for them to absorb? Are we having fun together as a family? Am I the best teacher they have? Those are the every day things that truly count.

I admit there’s a big learning curve here. It’s only been one year. Not nearly long enough for me to get this whole parenting thing right. But, maybe I can almost put a big fat check mark in the “letting go” box.  There are one or two things I’m still gripping pretty tightly, but I’ll get there. I’m still under construction.

QUESTION: How are you at letting go of the little stuff so that you can deal with the big stuff?

CHALLENGE: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!”


  1. Saren says

    Submitted on 9-30-2009 at 03:48pm

    Thanks for the reminder about what really matters. It’s so easy to loose the view of the forest with all those trees in the way! I read this right after reading the book summary about the book “I Was A Great Mom Until I Had Kids” on this site – great combination! I’ve resolved to think more carefully about what I really HAVE to do and prioritize some things down to the bottom of my list, to give myself a break and let go of things that don’t matter in favor of the things that really really do matter.

  2. Allyson Reynolds says

    Submitted on 9-21-2009 at 03:29pm

    We’re all still under construction, aren’t we? Thank you for honestly sharing your struggles and reminding me again of what is most important – my children. Hang in there as you all continue adjusting. Sounds like you’re doing a great job!

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