I’m holding my breath. My little girl is painting and having a ball and I find that I’m holding my breath and my fist are clenched and I can’t wait for this activity to end. All I can think about is how much of a mess there is going to be for me to clean up and I find myself ready to pounce and jump in at the first hint of paint being splattered about. The control monster is rearing it’s ugly head.
We are at the open gym at Regal Gymnastics. My daughter is having a ball as she literally rolls up and down and over and off of a giant inflatable ball. The control monster inside of me is SCREAMING at me to jump in and tell her to stop because I just know she is going to hurt herself and I want to prevent that at all costs.
I just get done cleaning the house while Nora naps. She wakes up and immediately wants to start playing. She spends the next hour pulling out every toy she owns and I sit grumpily on the couch complaining as she does it. All I can keep thinking is, “I just cleaned! Can’t it be clean for more than 5 minutes!”
We have somewhere to be and it feels like my child is moving the slowest she ever has, stopping to look at every branch, rock, and leaf that comes across her path. I find myself getting so annoyed and trying to hurry and rush her along, and yet my efforts are futile. Why can’t she just do what I want her to do?! The control monster is rearing it’s ugly head.
I have never been more challenged in my desire to control things than I have since becoming a mom. It is SO HARD for me to just let my daughter live and be sometimes. I find that I am far too often worried about the potential (or actual) mess, her getting hurt, people’s perceptions of me, etc. I didn’t fully realize how bad it had gotten until I saw a reflection of myself in another mother. I watched her hover over her child, filled with anxiety and worry as her son played without a care in the world. I saw her desperately trying to micromanage everything in hopes of not having to face any difficult situations. And as I looked at that mom, I saw myself. I saw a mother whose intentions were good and who loved her son, but whose demeanor was weary and anxiety-ridden. A mother who deep down knew she had very little control, but was desperately trying to grasp at it in hopes that it might prove itself attainable.
It was in that moment that I felt that weight of what I had become and knew that I needed to change; not only for my daughter but for myself. I don’t want to look back and realize that I didn’t allow my daughter to truly live and experience life because I was afraid of the “what if’s”. I don’t want to be consumed by my love of orderliness to the point that it prevents Nora from being a child and getting messy and dirty.
And so I resolved to actively fight against the control monster that is so easily stirred within me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard. There are days that I fight the fight better than others. There are times where I feel like supermom and times where I feel utterly defeated. But all it takes to bring a bit of encouragement to my soul is seeing my daughter’s face light up as she paints a picture (and gets messy!) or see her beam as she conquers a new challenge (like scaling the rock wall at the playground) without her momma hovering over her. Those are the moments that encourage me to keep fighting, because it’s worth it. She’s worth it.