Autumn just turned two, and her obsession with the movie Frozen has held steady. If the lyrics to Disney theme songs counted as entire languages, she’d be bilingual. But there’s one tune in particular that recently had me thinking.
Let It Go was a melody I had heard long before Autumn’s birth. It’s catchy to the point of annoying, and after a while, it’s one of those songs whose words become automatic and less meaningful. That said, in light of my daughter’s advancing age and yearning for independence, it has once again become poignant.
What does it really mean to let something go?, I wonder. It’s a Thursday morning in late April, and my brain is clouded with exhaustion – from the struggle to teach restless students and the mounting costs of being the sole provider. My shoulders feel the weight of 10,000 elephants, and so I dream of feeling lighter and ponder how to get there.
My mind reverts to what happens when holding on for too long. The basement clutters, suffocating precious items in dust. Decadent food turns to fat, and holding hands become clammy. I then become curious about the sweet spot – where you hold on and give just enough, and then set free. She wants to put on her own boots, but we’ll be late. She wants to give herself a bath, but she won’t get as clean. She wants to serve herself, but the container could break.
And I realize this is just one instance where I struggle with dichotomies in Motherhood. What’s the acceptable ratio of healthy food to treats? How much time to give nurturing to provide love vs. working to provide tangibles? What about working out to feed my soul, but being present to feed my toddler? When do I listen to my cool inner mom – let her play longer – versus the reasonable one pushing naps?
And then I think of how many things I have come to love-hate as the result of being a parent. She woke up earlier, so I get to see her before school, but that also means a tough good-bye. I made it to the last month of school – May-d it! – but as the work days disappear, so, too, does her toddlerhood.
By the time I arrive, I am depleted with confusion. I am grateful there’s a math test so I don’t have to instruct. The students are working on fractions, and I remind them to always simplify, and in doing so, I remind myself to uncomplicate, and so I think just of this morning.
Autumn was supposed to be in bed, but sleeping has never been her forte. We lied together in the early morning hours, and when my alarm went off, I gave her two choices.
“You can either go into your crib and I’ll give you some toys, or you can come with Mommy while she showers.”
She closed the bathroom door behind us, petting the dog in coziness as the steam warmed the room. I freshened her on the changing table, then she moved dollhouse figures while I ironed. We had Kix and bananas and peanut butter while Alexa played acoustic chill. And then the most amazing thing happened.
When Autumn was a baby, she slept on me so often and soundly I thought she’d melt back into my body. I took it for granted, at times wishing I could move without the worry of waking an infant. The older she gets, the more she wants to carry her own weight, and only when she’s hurt or scared will she let go of hurrying to soften in to me.
Or when she wants me to stay for one minute longer, like she did this morning.
And so as a baby step toward losing the weight of the world, I realize I can take comfort in the one certainty that when Autumn is holding on, I will release control and let her be the one to let go.