Friday, 29 March 2013
Confession: I am a control freak. Yes. I admit it. But I wish I wasn’t. Why? Because as I grow and learn, I recognise this trait is often counter productive and causes more problems than it solves. And so, I try hard to revolt against it. Sometimes successfully and other times, not so. I think, in the past, I found myself in situations where I felt the only people I could truly count on were me, myself and I. And so, I ‘took control’, thus sprouting the beginnings of what I term as my ‘dictatorship’ disposition which unfortunately rears its ugly head every now and again. Very unhealthy. And if I was honest, an exhausting way to be – to ALWAYS be ‘in charge’ and ‘in control’.
And then, I met Matt who taught me it was okay to let go of the ‘reins’. To let someone else be ‘in charge’. That it was both unhealthy and impossible to control everything. And when we had Faith, I was forced to see that the self-reliance I was so proud of was pointless as I bumbled my way through motherhood. So unused to being inadequate, regardless of everything I tried, this baby would cry, stay awake at all hours, AND refuse to co-operate when we were trying to feed her the labor intensive meals I had slaved over – preferring to eat the sand on the beach instead!
As my understanding of what was needed was stretched to the very limits of what I was able to ‘let go’ of, not only did I feel like I had no control over anything to do with my child, but I also realised I had no control over my life as I knew it, as I was now ‘tied’ to this other human being’s needs and wants. I had to either learn this lesson and learn to go with the flow a little more or continue to fret over every detail that was ‘imperfect’ and drive everyone (including myself) crazy in the process. And so, over time, I grasped that the house didn’t need to be ‘perfect’ and the my to-do list COULD wait as it was more important for me to grab a few winks whilst my little one slept. Truth be told, I was very lucky to have Matt by my side through it all. He provided relief and comfort whenever needed; and took over the dreaded night feeds. And I was so grateful, I no longer cared if he didn’t choose the ‘right outfit’ or if he gave her something to eat that wasn’t on my ‘list’ of what I understood to be ‘best’ for our first born – it was no longer a priority. And just as well and probably one of the reasons why Faith didn’t end up as an only child and why Matt doesn’t mind still being married to this crazed woman!
But yet, the lesson continues. Only recently, trying to avoid any last minute moments of panic, we went through Faith and Tia’s school-provided packing list for their respective trips to Cambodia and Australia. “Remember to fully charge your camera Faith!” I prompted the weekend before. But the night BEFORE she left, it emerged: not only did she not take heed of the directive, but she had also misplaced her charger and only alerted us to the fact the night before. I blew a gasket. Actually several. And I was not proud. A wiser mother would have just said, “Oh well, I guess you won’t be able to take any pictures” and left it at that. But I am not wise. Instead, I ranted and raved about “irresponsibility” and “disappointment”. Foolish me. When will I learn? Eventually, the offending cord was found and the camera was charged. But by then, I was filled with regret.
And yet, just last weekend, I demonstrated to myself that I WAS capable of not being such an authoritarian. Faith had cooked dinner and Matt had cleaned up. I didn’t hover nor did I conduct a ‘once through’ after they had finished. The next morning, however, I was horrified to see the state of the kitchen. The stove and bench-tops had not been cleaned and were in a state -- for my housekeeper to face when she turned up to work in the morning. She didn’t bat an eyelid as I apologized for the mess. But she did make a comment about the state of the dishes that had been ‘washed’. The ‘old’ me probably would have had heart palpitations when she showed me what she was talking about and then hassled Matt about it. But instead, I just sheepishly apologized again and explained it was Matt’s ‘handiwork’. The dishes were rewashed and the kitchen cleaned thoroughly. I didn’t bug Matt about it as I recognized that his thoughtful gesture of doing the dishes to give me a break was, in the ‘bigger picture’, more important.
And so I learn. That I have to be patient with myself. That some days, I will be better at ‘letting go’ than others; and when I do lose that battle, I must try not to berate myself too much but instead learn from those moments so they hopefully become more infrequent in the days to come.
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