“One thing I’ve learned about life is that if you really let go, it’s just a joy ride.” – Ricky Williams
While seeing my son off at school this morning, he gave me a reminder as he waved good-bye.
“Don’t forget, Mom. Today is Popsicle day.”
I grimace a little bit and answer, “Okay,” with a forced smile.
Before you think I’m a mean mom, let me explain to you why I don’t normally buy him a Popsicle on Popsicle day.
Part of it is sheer laziness because I don’t want to clean up a sticky mess on the car seats and the kids after the drive home from school. I can’t just purchase one for my son without also purchasing one for my 2-year-old daughter, and this multiplies the mess not by two, but by four.
Watching the sticky mess unfold in the car is like some sort of train wreck that I can’t look away from. Bells and whistles go off in my controlling head alerting me that I should immediately abort the mission. It’s ironic that melting Popsicles freak me out, but it’s perfectly okay that the rest of the car is a disaster. (See this post if you want details on the inside of my car.)
In the past, I’ve gotten away with telling my son that I forgot my wallet to avoid the fiasco, but this kid is clearly on to me now that he is issuing reminders.
I got to thinking about it, and I asked myself, do you really want to be the uptight mom who doesn’t buy the Popsicle just to avoid the mess? Not at the expense of my son’s joy.
There it is.
Many of the things that bring joy and happiness (even love itself) require discomfort, mess, and effort. When we try with all of our might to avoid the hard stuff, we risk muting out the great stuff.
As a control-freak mom I’m trying to be the adult and follow the rules and keep order, and we have to do that as parents to a certain extent. But what I’m really after is my children’s willingness to just be, and they are inviting me all of the time to just let go and be.
Here I am, the adult, sweating the small stuff, and there they are, kids, without a care in the world.
Sometimes they’ve succeeded in convincing me to let go, like when they were newborns and I let go of my need to sweep the floor in exchange for letting them sleep in my arms. Pure bliss.
Or when they would fall asleep in the car just before nap time and refuse to transfer to the crib. On those days I had to let go of nap time, let go of me time, and let go of the idea of anyone other than a cranky child and mother for the rest of the day. Pure torture.
With every milestone they hit, I have to let go a little more, and it’s hard for me to imagine the day I will have to let go and send them off to college. But there I go getting ahead of myself instead of staying in the present moment.
Back to the Popsicles, I gave in.
I watched my kids have no qualms about sticky Popsicle dripping down their arms and into their laps. I watched them slurp up the Popsicles with delight. I let myself revel in their enjoyment (in between me chiming in to tell them to hurry up and eat the dang things – I’m still only human).
I hit my own milestone today and let go a little bit. Elsa would be proud.
It wasn’t entirely a joy ride, but the joy made the mess worthwhile.