White Knuckles. My struggle to lessen the grip and control on my children.

7:55 PM

I just laid my baby boy down for bed on the eve of his first birthday.

One year. One full trip around the sun.

Wasn’t I just complaining about my back hurting from the weight of his sweet body in my belly? Did I not just meet him for the first time and contemplate… again… the utter miracle of birth and life? Did I not just clean the hospital cafeteria out of chocolate no-bake cookies in my ravenous post-partum state?!

How does this continue to happen? This breakneck speed of life that seems to occur in the early days of raising little ones. (Although I readily admit some days feel like an eternity.)

The basis for scientific time says each year contains the same amount of days, minutes, seconds as the next.**

Science is a liar.

And a jerk.

Surely I am not the only one who feels as if each year speeds by more quickly than the last. As if someone must be stealing a day or two off of each one? Is somebody with me? Anybody?

I vividly remember my dad telling me in my youth not to wish my life away. I didn’t understand his wisdom until years later. In replaying his advice in my mind, I silently pray for the ticking of the clock to slow just a bit.  Just enough to drink in one more breath of my 11.9 month old before the sun rises and we enter a new phase.  One more evening of rocking him before bed because those precious days are numbered.

This blog couldn’t be more appropriately named. Here I sit, intently focused on the never ending tick-tock and the reminder that the moments are passing more quickly than I would like. To be brutally honest, the weight of the click…click… click can feel suffocating at points. If the pressure produced anything positive, I’d roll with it.  But I’m slowly starting to learn from experience that my death grip on the present can suck the life out of the moment.

So, in taking sage advice from those who have parented before me, I work to lessen my grip. And breathe. To release the burden and weight that comes with parenting. And life in general. We’ve been barraged with messages of living intentionally and making the most out of each moment. Important points, no doubt.  But it can be exhausting if you’re not built to do certain things in moderation.  Apparently I am not built to do certain things in moderation. Like stressing about the passing of time. Or having babies. Back to my five desserts analogy from the previous post.  Yikes.

My desire is to regard the passing of time, even the poignant one year milestone, as the start of a new opportunity.  To let each passing moment bring with it another chance for sweet, unexpected joy from these little monkeys that have invaded my home and squandered my sanity.  How am I doing this, you ask?

Wine. And lots of it.

I kid, I kid.

Kind of.

In all seriousness, I’ve found three things to help me as I work towards being less of a ‘time gripper.’

#1 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  I think of this verse when I’m white knuckling the moment, killing the present with my concern over that stupid clock tick. Because I never, and I use that word seldom, N E V E R, improve the situation with the white knuckles. I freak out, stress out and create general pandemonium in my household. In recalling this verse, I remember I’m wanting to teach God’s instruction and guidance to my kids versus the white-knuckled freak-out technique. Fascinating as this technique may  be, I’m fairly certain it holds no true value as a skill.

#2 Stay in touch with other moms. A lot. And then some more. Listening to other moms talk about their fears over parenting and the passing of sweet time lessens the ‘I’m on an island’ feeling that only makes my clock tick more loudly. I’ve been abundantly blessed with GREAT girlfriends. If you don’t have some, find some. Mom groups, small groups, Bible studies, book clubs, gym buddies, room mothers, cooking class, Ducks Unlimited, Fly Fishing Mamas.  I. Do. Not. Care. Just find some and make a conscious, consistent effort to listen and share.  It will help.  Promise.

#3 Plan for spontaneity.  Sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, right? Think of it like this. Have you ever made a fantastic, ‘couldn’t-burn-it-out-of-your-head-even-if-you-do-have-four-kids-and-very-little-sense’ kind of memory when you forced a situation?

We WILL do this event and we WILL have fun!

How enjoyable are those activities? Ours are always a nightmare and I wind up praying for mercy five minutes into the event. On the flip side, our simplest, most mundane moments often elicit real joy. Because I have lessened the grip and stepped aside long enough for my kids to relax and be precious kids. As for the planning, in busy households you might have to plan and set aside time to do…… nothing. Just to sit in the backyard and chat long enough for the fireflies to arrive. Or to pour over a book long enough to learn that your seven year old knows how to properly identify a venomous vs. non-venomous snake bite.  Good information to know, I suppose.  And I wouldn’t have learned it had I not planned to just sit down and shut up. So, if you’re like me, I want to tell you in the kindest way possible….just sit down and shut up.

So there you have it. My initial steps on what will undoubtedly be a loooong process to modify my innate reflex to experiencing my children growing older. I’d love to hear your ideas on lessening the grip and quieting the clock. I need all the help I can get.

And tomorrow, please say a prayer for me. While I’ve improved a bit in the ‘white knuckled/freak out’ area when it comes to milestone birthdays, the ‘extended family in one space’ department could use some work.

If you want to read more about the other areas of my life that need extreme, abundant overhaul, please consider following my blog.


**Yes, yes, smarty pants friends…I know that Leap Year is the exception;)

2 thoughts on “White Knuckles. My struggle to lessen the grip and control on my children.

  1. Emily, you are amazing! Mrs. Lowe would be so proud of your blog:). I feel so privileged to be your friend & love you for the great person, in all areas, you are!

    • Linda, what an unbelievably kind thing to say. You’ve absolutely made my weekend:) I love you for the great person you are….and even more for that blonde headed guy you raised that I treasure so much!

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