Feed on

Letting Go

If I lived on Sesame Street, I’d tell you that this summer is brought to you by the theme “letting go.”

The first thing I’ve had to let go of is control over Simon’s emotions. When he was younger, I’d work hard to get him out of funks or to prevent a funk from happening. Now, I’m seeing that my place more often than not is to stand back and let Simon try to manage his own emotions. Not that I expect him to be able to do so, but I sense from him that he wants to, no, make that needs to, at least try.

It can be really hard seeing him choose poorly when he’s in a fit of anger. “Mommy, I want to hit five more balls!” he’ll declare at his grandparents’ house when I tell him it’s time to leave. “Honey, you can hit two more balls; then we have to go” I’ll counter. “Then I don’t want to hit any balls any more” will come the pout. “Are you sure honey? Two is better than none.” “No,” he’ll say in a sad, angry voice, “I don’t want to hit any balls at all.” “OK then”, I sigh. Give Grandma and Papaw a kiss and let’s go home.”

No one is happy in these scenarios. But I can’t let a preschooler rule the roost, nor can I coax him out of a fit of pique all of the time. The best I can do is to compassionately let him experience the consequences of his decisions, not get fed up and escalate things, and then keep the mood light when the bad moment passes. The very night of the Tragedy of the Foreshortened Tee-Ball Session, we arrived home and had a delightful time reading stories together in his bed. Just like that, a rotten mood turned to sweetness and light.

The second thing I’ve had to let go of is stuff—lots and lots of stuff. One of my spring projects was to declutter my house. I did a great job, but I never touched the baby stuff that I tripped over to get to the other stuff. Somehow, baby stuff seemed exempt.

Two years ago, baby stuff was exempt because I wasn’t sure if I’d have another baby or not. A year ago, baby stuff was exempt because I had mixed feelings about not having another baby.  And this spring, baby stuff was exempt because, having realized that Simon was going to be an only child, I became uncharacteristically and irrationally attached to objects tied to his babyhood. I tried, but couldn’t force myself to dump off baby accoutrement to total strangers. I felt guilty about my attachment, but not enough to buck it.

Then my friend James and his wife Nyawut came to my rescue. James is a fellow board member of the Sudanese Refugee Education Fund. He is, in fact, a founding member, a situation that required him to recuse himself from receiving the scholarships we distribute and for which he would have qualified. James gladly made the sacrifice to help out his Sudanese brethren; he’s a mensch that way.

At the end of this month, James’ wife is due to have the couple’s first baby, and the board threw Nyawut a baby shower this Saturday to thank James for all his years of selfless service.

When I took one look at Nyawut’s registry, I realized I had at last arrived at a solution to my overflowing baby stuff. Serendipitously, half a dozen of the unpurchased items on her registry were the very things cluttering my attic. I couldn’t find my baby-wearing wrap, so I bought that new as her “real” present. Then I loaded Simon’s infant play mat, nursery monitor, baby bathtub, and a never used spare diaper bag into my trunk.

Me being me, I was able to hand over my lightly used items not only with their owner’s manuals attached, but in most cases also in their original packaging. All of my bizarre reticence to part with stuff dissolved the minute I thought of this young couple who work three jobs between them and just bought their first home in the neighborhood I grew up in. In fact, I couldn’t wait to force all my stuff on them.

At the shower, I was also introduced to a friend of Nyawut’s who is, equally serendipitously, expecting her first child, a son, on October 16. That would be Simon’s birthday. “How lovely,” I said to my friend of five minutes. “I have an entire infant wardrobe for you. Please don’t buy anything.”

Soon enough, I will be able to navigate my attic and have room for all the sports stuff we’re on the cusp of needing. It’s just a delightful win-win, and I’m feeling great at last about letting go.

Coda: You can read more about James in a recent local news feature about him .

One Response to “Letting Go”

  1. blg says:

    You are a good woman, Jessica.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.