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  • Learning To Let It Go

    June 9, 2009

    Several months ago Sean had his friend Marlee over to play.  I banished them out to the backyard where they had a terrific time collecting poor unsuspecting roly poly bugs, dragging all the toys out into the yard, playing in the sandbox and digging up what would be my flower beds if I ever get around to putting in seasonal color. Unlikely.

    At one point, I looked out the back windows to check on them and they were hauling sand from the sandbox up to the house and pouring it all over the stone path and the patio.  So I opened the door and asked them not to do that and to please keep the sand in the vicinity of the sandbox.

    And that was that.  I never gave it another thought.  Not one.

    Yesterday, I’m sitting at my desk working on my computer, and out of the wild blue yonder, Sean comes to me and puts his hand on my leg, his sign that he needs to tell me something.  I stop typing and turn and look at him.  He has his shirt on backwards and there is evidence of a blue Popsicle on his face.  My heart stops momentarily when I realize that I had a hand in this marvelous creation.

    “Mom,” he says seriously, “There is something you need to know.”

    I look at him and widen my eyes to indicate that I am all ears.

    “Remember when Marlee came over and we were in the backyard?”

    “Yes.”

    “Well, it was her idea to take the sand out of the sandbox.”

    I blink slowly and widen my eyes again to indicate I’m waiting for the rest of the story.

    He looks at me with wide blue eyes and blinks.

    I blink back and wait for context.

    “And?” I finally ask.

    “I just wanted you to know that.”

    As I look into his face that is mine, I was impressed with his terrific memory and baffled that he would carry around an obscure meaningless event and then dredge it up for no obvious reason.

    God help this child, he is just like his mother.

    Then I blinked again and wondered how to teach him not to hang on to this kind of stuff, how to teach him the fine are of letting go.

    29 Comments »

    1. Heidi says:

      “…teach him the fine art of letting go.”

      Oh my. Good luck with that. When you’re done, please pop up to Illinois and teach me.
      What a sweet boy you have.

      June 9th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    2. TJ Hirst says:

      Oh, I hang on, too. The moments when we realize our children are just like us, in the good and the things we want to change are some of the most heart lifting and heart aching times of motherhood. Beautiful description, and well written way to share.

      June 9th, 2009 at 8:01 am

    3. Roxanne says:

      “He has his shirt on backwards and there is evidence of a blue Popsicle on his face.”

      The above line is why I kiss my boy’s dirty face several times a day. . .what a beautiful piece–AGAIN.

      June 9th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    4. Brigitte says:

      Ooh, THAT’S why my daughter obsesses over minor incidents . . because I myself still obsess over things like Jackie Posseil laughing at me on the first day of Kindergarten! 😮

      June 9th, 2009 at 9:56 am

    5. tom says:

      Funny how well they remember certain things that are significant to them, while having lived through the same events, we forget entirely. And vice-versa. I still remember quite clearly accidentally beaning my mother with a rock when I was four, and how horrible I felt about it.

      June 9th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    6. Pam says:

      How lucky is Sean to have a mom so in tune to his feelings?

      I hate that I have transferred my fear of the dark onto my boy. Maybe we can face it together before he heads off to college. That gives me roughly 12 years…we’ll see.

      June 9th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    7. Rivkeleh says:

      My Mother’s Support Group had a guest speaker last month who led us through an exercise about temperments, and I couldn’t get over how lucky I am. I hadn’t realized how often a mother and child are of different temperments and it leads to dischord, mostly because Noah and I are so similar that it never dawned on me that it could be any different. You and Sean are similarly blessed. Ain’t it great?

      June 9th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    8. JanMary, N Ireland says:

      When my daughter was 8 she asked what the speed cameras were for, and I explained that if you broke the law, then the police would know, and could find the driver.

      That night she was hysterical and finally told me why – once, TWO YEARS earlier, at a soft-play place, she went down a large slide without the mat! She was worried there may have been a camera, and the police would be coming for her soon.

      They say confession is good for the soul!

      June 9th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    9. momof8 says:

      When you figure it out let me know. Sometimes I just. can’t. let. it. go.

      June 9th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    10. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      I agree, still figuring that out for myself.

      June 9th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    11. Melanie says:

      And yet some moments, like those colored in blue popsicle, are meant to be held close for quite some time. I guess that’s why we blog. Sweet boy.

      Melanie

      June 9th, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    12. Shelly W. says:

      Oh, that tugged at my heart. Yes, how do we teach them that? And how do we teach them to let Mom’s stuff go? I feel like such an imperfect parent, but I have one child who holds me to a pretty high standard and thus I disappoint her. A lot. Ugh.

      BTW, we do the hand-on-the-leg thing too! It totally works! Until they’re teenagers, of course. 🙂

      June 9th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    13. Laura says:

      precious child…warmed my heart…hope he does learn to let things go.

      June 9th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    14. The G-Ma says:

      As a four-year old I had pneumonia all one winter. I’d also swallowed a penny because of my crazed attraction to sample-taste everything.

      In the spring my mom took me to the lab, or the doctor, for an x-ray to see how the sick lungs were coming along. I knew the x-ray would show that penny. I knew the white coated people would somehow open me up to remove that penny. My heart-stopping terror ended the session. I writhed and kicked and screamed. No x-ray was taken.

      We remember the frightening things–Tom hitting his mom and JanMary’s little girl imagining herself on some police hit-list.

      Sean may have worried that you blamed him for the sand mess. Through your and his dad’s guidance, he is developing an informed conscionce. As he learns that mishaps are forgiven and forgotten, he will more easily let go the trivial.

      But, somewhere secret, we all retain the frightening, don’t you think?

      June 9th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    15. Amy says:

      That really spoke to my heart. Thanks.

      June 9th, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    16. Fraulein says:

      I totally thought the payoff was going to be that the next thing you did was to get up and discover a giant mound of sand in one of your toilets or something. Around my house, I feel like that’s how such a story would end… 🙂

      June 9th, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    17. Bitsy says:

      So cute!

      June 9th, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    18. Deborah says:

      So many memories just came back to me reading your post….the shirt on backwards…but because he wanted to see his name on his t-ball shirt…the digging, a hole to China we believe with his best bud, Patrick.

      Treasure these moments…my baby is taking me out to dinner tonight with money made from his first hay job, my dad let him drive his “fancy truck”, and we had to say goodbye to Patrick because of cancer…the hole stayed there for a long time afterwards.

      June 9th, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    19. snarflemarfle says:

      Just beautiful…

      June 9th, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    20. Debbie says:

      Once again, these were just the words I needed to hear. Let. it. go. As always, I’m grateful. Thanks.

      June 9th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    21. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      Please keep us informed on this one.

      As an adult, I no longer hold onto things. (Heck, I feel lucky if I can remember my name most days.) But my daughter, my sweet seven-year-old, will randomly say to me, “Remember when I was four and that boy hit me? That was really mean.”

      Let. It. GO. Sweet child.

      June 10th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    22. Dee says:

      I have lived DECADES…I am probably your oldest reader.

      “…teach him the fine art of letting go.”

      Please put this at the top of your list…my life has been at times, a living heck because of not letting go.

      I still struggle so mightly with this , esp. at this new chapter in my life, about everyday things and more serious (sins commited) things.

      Even.though.I.Know. my sins are not to be remembered anymore after I confess and receive forgiveness. Not only has it made my life so so hard, it has affected my husband, the best man in the world.

      How wise you are to see the need to help your wee one learn to let go…just let it go. Sounds simple, but trust me, it always isn’t. Thanks for your blog.

      June 10th, 2009 at 12:42 am

    23. Dee says:

      A small clarification….it’s the constant fretting, anxiety, and worrying that has made my life an uphill battle for all these many years. I wouldn’t have anyone go through it. I truly wouldn’t. One is robbed of joy and peace, priceless gifts.

      June 10th, 2009 at 12:45 am

    24. mythoughtsonthat says:

      “My heart stops momentarily when I realize that I had a hand in this marvelous creation.” That was my favorite sentence (although I know it wasn’t the point of the story!)

      June 10th, 2009 at 12:49 am

    25. SCY says:

      I’m not a parent myself yet, but as someone who does hang onto things myself, I think the trick here is not to teach him how to let go (cos he is who he is, and clearly he’s one to hang on) but to teach him to let it go earlier than he normally would have… I’ve found this helps me ease my mind…

      Beautiful post, this is why I want to be a mom so much, to have moments like these of my own one day.

      xxx

      June 10th, 2009 at 7:44 am

    26. rrmama says:

      When you figure it out please let me know! My oldest tells me things days later or even years for that matter. It always makes me wonder.

      June 10th, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    27. Nelson's Mama says:

      My husband’s mantra to me…

      “Water off a duck’s back, babe, water off a duck’s back”.

      June 10th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    28. Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com says:

      After you’re done teaching your son, my husband would like you to teach me as well…

      June 10th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    29. patois says:

      One of my kids would have done that, but only because he (or she) had done something wrong right then and was trying to balance it by showing when he (or she) had not been bad.

      June 11th, 2009 at 10:12 am

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