Monday, August 4, 2008

Letting go.

I have always been a little bit weird about my need to control things. Of course, up until recently, I would not have really admitted to that. But, in truth, I have always clung fairly fiercely to "the known" elements in my life.

That's not to say I have shunned the unknown; in fact sort of the opposite is true. I've taken some pretty risky, stupid, brilliant, insipid, random, and all-together inspired choices over the last years. I won't go into those here, or anywhere frankly, (what did my good friend, Florian recently call all of this cyber-relating ... a Soul Striptease ... Yeah, well - not for this girl!) but I've always taken my risks while keeping the known firmly in view; easily within reach. Diving into the deep end with the side of the pool close at hand and a big pair of floaties on my arms. I'm smart, if nothing else, about the long term.

Sydney's introduction into my life has me reshaping all sorts of preconceived ideas about life, self, success, and identity. And control. I am daily recognizing my absolute lack of any real control and it's all a bit unnerving.

It's sort of painfully obvious and therefore embarrassing (but hopefully none too surprising) to admit that it has taken a 6-month old Baby Girl to start ridding me of pretty deep seated selfishness, pride, and ego ... but it's true. Even typing that onto the screen has left me staring for a moment at a blinking cursor.

(I mean, do I really want to say this out loud? Hopefully, I am not alone.)

I am constantly processing, analyzing, reflecting on, and redefining conclusions about myself, which is –admittedly – a pretty self-involved thing to be doing. In the midst of all of this, however, the clarity of my own lack of control, and the life's work I seem to have made out of my prolonged, stupid, selfish pursuit of control, has been as brilliant as lightening.

One of the big pieces that constantly comes into view is the daily process of letting go.

Being a mom, and uniquely being a working mom, brings with it a daily surrender of self. Now, I can just picture stay-at-home, single career moms sort of considering that remark as the penultimate justification for my decision to leave Sydney every day for 9 hours. ... And maybe that's part of it. But I have to speak from my perspective ... it’s all I know.

In all truth, being a working mom means - if you are doing it "right" (and what is that, anyway?) - pretty much zero time for self. ... And most days that's okay. But some days, it's hard. And it's upsetting. And you want to be selfish and claim time for yourself; just an hour or maybe just 10 minutes. Or you want to point the finger at your spouse and tell him to make more money. Or you are ticked because you can’t shake the worry of guilt because you like your job, and the personal opportunity it offers for connecting you to some lingering remnant of “who you used to be.” Or you find yourself irritated because no one seems to notice how hard you are working each and every day to be 100% top-notch at the office and at home ... and just how mind-numbingly, bone tired you are at the end of another day of all of striving.

And at the heart of it, you know all of your annoyances are really borne, not out of the reality of your situation, but out of your sinful, insane self. The finger points right at you - you can't blame anyone at all ..

Over these last 6 months, I have never been far from the reality that surrender is what is required to be – at least marginally – “good” at parenting. I think about it all of the time. And achieving sort of a zen-contentment with it all is my daily supplication. As a mom. As a Christian. As a centered, in-tune person ... It is absolutely not "about me." It's not entirely about Sydney, either - trust me, the last thing I want is to raise her coddled and spoiled. It's all about choices, God-blessed and directed daily living. Choices to let go, to give up your sense of self to be a better mom, wife, and - frankly - just a better YOU.

There's balance that must be struck ... in control because you grasp with total clarity your absolute lack of it. Filled with a defined purpose and identity, while surrendering your own right to claim any such thing. Learning to give and give and give, without expecting one iota of return, and realizing that claiming that attitude yields MORE in return than you could have ever manipulated on your own.

Letting go to find more than you ever could have contrived to create.

So, that's what I am working on ... while I work at the office, while I work at home, while I love my Church through my vocation, while I love my husband and daughter more than I can say ... Trying to control my ability to let it go ...

We'll see how it all works out.


SarahHub said...

Oh, Gretchen, it will work out!

When I was working I had the same struggle, and I imagine every mom does. I read somewhere it's called "stereophonic guilt." Guilty you're not giving it your all at work, and guilty you're not doing enough at home. It's a hard balancing act.

But I think you're doing a brilliant job. You seem so very "pulled together." I would have never guessed you had these feelings, too!

My mother and Larry Padgett have both told me to stop trying to predict and control everything... Leave it up to God and He'll lead me... And they're right. He works things out better than I ever could.

Brian & Erin said...

I'm not in your shoes... and I'm generally thankful for that. Although sometimes I wish your struggle were mine. (In a wierd, twisted way I suppose.) I miss the "former life" and feeling of meaning outside of home.

I can, however, relate to the need for control. I love the second to last line of your post... "Trying to CONTROL my ability to let it go" (emphasis mine). AMEN!!! Isn't it funny that even as we are trying to soak up life for what it is we have to look at it as a control issue?!?

I'll be praying for you as you work through the conficting emotions that attack your mind, body and spirit daily.


bluedog said...

What timing! As you know, I've struggled with all of those questions, and then some. My decision was not an easy one to commit to, but for the health of myself, my daughter, and my marriage, I took the leap. I'm excited about this time for ME and the adventures I will embark on, that I simply didn't have the energy for before.

But I have sincerely admired you as the woman who has it all, and I aspired to be like you: juggling family, faith, work, social life, etc. Thanks for admitting that you're human, like the rest of us. Otherwise I would be spending years in therapy trying to figure out why can't I be you. (A little Cure to add some levity to this comment.)

Give it up to God Gret, for He is in control my dear, not you. :)