“Mom, can we go for a walk? I’m almost done with my homework,” Teo asked.
“Sure, let’s go!”
“Let’s see if Sienna wants to come too…”
I peered into Sienna’s bedroom, knowing that her math office hours ended just moments before. She was in the middle of working on homework but jumped at the chance to take a break and join us for a walk. We like to do the “two cul-de-sacs” in our neighborhood, which is just about a thirty minute walk at the kids’ exploratory pace.
As we were leaving the house, Teo asked, “Hey, could we watch Antiques Roadshow tonight, if we get everything done?” Our weeknight routine does not include any television time for the kids, but it was early and they’re starting to stay up a bit later. Plus, it can be good motivation to get them through their showers if they can watch a little something.
“We’ll see,” I replied in my typical motherly response.
As we started walking, my mind kicked in to overdrive. Okay, Sienna needs to finish her homework, then we can have dinner which is quick because it’s just leftovers. If both kids take showers right after dinner, we should be able to put on the show around 7:00 or so. That way we can still read with the kids and they’ll be asleep at a decent hour. What if Sienna dawdles with her shower or her homework? Well, we’ll just watch it without her…
Meanwhile, on our walk, the kids became super squirrely and silly, pushing and pretending to trip one another. My arm was sore from my second Covid-19 vaccine earlier in the day and I could feel my mood plummeting. I tried to take in the surroundings and let go of my rapidly deteriorating emotions. I told the kids a couple times that their antics were taking away from my enjoyment of our walk. Finally I turned around abruptly and said, “Okay, I’m done. You guys are not making this fun at all.” Mateo protested and begged to finish the second cul-de-sac, but my mind was made up.
When we got home, I went to our bedroom and gave myself a little timeout to pray and ask myself: What’s bothering me? The answer came quickly. Oh, when I started trying to figure out how to control the events of our evening so we could watch the show, that’s when my tension started to build. But, I don’t have to take that on! If everything is done and there’s time to watch it, we’ll put on the show. If not, it’ll just be a good lesson for the kids in the reality of time management.
I felt a sudden lightness of spirit and took a deep breath. What a (completely self-imposed!) burden lifted. It’s not my job to control all the aspects of our family life so that everything fits in perfectly. This is precisely the mindset that causes me to be stuck in my head, disconnected from my emotions and the present moment. A little prayer of surrender followed: Lord, please help us have a good night of connection and fun as a family. Amen. Then I went to the kitchen to start heating up leftovers.
Just a few minutes later, I overhead an exchange between Teo and Dennis. “Dad, can we watch Antiques Roadshow tonight?”
“Why don’t you take your shower right now before dinner so we’ll have time later?”
I smiled to myself as I realized (yet again), how life unfolds just fine without my striving to control it. Better, in fact.