Parenting, as many have said before me, is an ongoing series of lessons in learning to let go. With each stage as your child develops and grows, you let go of something. And sometimes it's hard.
Sometimes you have to let go of something else: an opinion you held dear, or a view you had of yourself. That's not just true of parenting - it's part of life. But parenting is one of the catalysts that will do this for you. (Anything from "You should never bribe children" or "I'm going to be an earth mother and do everything natural" or "I love kids and would like to have lots of them!" to your beliefs on gender, nature and marriage, or your personal view of your place in the world and how the universe works).
Sometimes it's a relief to let something go. A long-cherished hobby or life goal can be good to let go when it impedes joy in other areas of your life. (Read: 'The Upside of Quitting' at Freakonomics)
Sometimes it can take awhile to let go of something you really cherish or want. It took me a long time to accept that I could never give my kids the Stay at Home Mum lilfestyle, It took me too long and too many stressful mornings and nights before I let go of the idea that I had to be the one to take the kids to daycare every day, or that all our evening meals had to be a traditional plated meat and two veg. When I let go of those ideas, which did not fit our lives, our lives became better. Y did the daycare run more often, and the picnic dinner and the bento box dinner became our friends.
Sometimes, when a thing won't work despite all best intentions and hard work, letting go and moving on is the only option.
When my kids were little, I made delicious milkshakes. I made them with banana, a spoonful of ice-cream, milk and a couple of drops of food dye. Their favourite colour was pink, but we also had blue, green or orange milkshakes. Sometimes instead of ice-cream I used Greek yogurt and honey. My kids LOVED my milkshakes. When the daycare centre compiled a book of favourite family recipes, our contribution was Pink Milkshakes.
I loved my role as HEALTHY FUN MUM WHO MAKES AWESOME MILKSHAKES. I might have loved that picture of myself more than my kids loved the milkshakes. So when my kids got a little older and tasted actual milkshakes and started to go off mine, I wasn't ready to give that up.
I upped the ante to chocolate and banana shakes. I increased the proportion of ice-cream. I made smoothies: fruit, yogurt, honey, juice, ice and milk, blended up with a couple of drops of food dye to make them look as great as they tasted. But despite many attempts over the years and Y and I loving them, the kids have never really bought in.
Yesterday I cut up some kiwifruit for the girls and saw a smoothie recipe on the inside of the container: kiwi, banana, honey and juice. I immediately made plans to make a yummy smoothie for tomorrow's breakfast, but when I mentioned it both kids said "NO! Mum! We DON'T LIKE SMOOTHIES!"
Then they happily gobbled up their bowls of kiwi and banana.
I considered my options. I could make my smoothie, which Y and I would like and the kids would not. I could use up all that kiwi and banana in the process, which the kids will not consume in smoothie form but will happily eat cut up in a bowl.
Or I could give them the fresh fruit and let it go.
I LET IT GO.
And it felt good.
What have you let go? What took you too long to accept?