Learning to Let Go (aka Accepting that My Kids are Actually Growing Up)

Can I make a confession?  It kills me that my little ones are growing up.  I miss hearing the little high pitched voices, the little footsteps running through the house, the happy sounds of the little kid cartoon shows and the giggles that went with them.  My house is filled with bigger, louder voices now, heavier footsteps (still running through the house), and annoying “bigger kid” tv shows that have me alternating between gritting my teeth and demanding the tv be turned off – at least the giggles have remained!

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I’ve been in denial about this for quite some time now.

But my great Lego project has helped me to start to put things in perspective.  Let me explain.

While the majority of our crumbling Lego sets reside in the basement, my son had a decent-sized collection of lego decorating his room.  Sadly, it was facing the same fate as the Lego in the basement – namely, it was slowly disintegrating, with bits and pieces falling off as the sets got moved.  And so, last week, I took it all out of his room and added it to my pile of Lego to disassemble, sort and bag.  While I was at it, (and while he was at school), I took the opportunity to clean out the rest of his room.  I went through the bookcases, and removed books that were clearly too young for him.  I boxed up all the Mickey Mouse ear hats we have collected during our trips to Disney.  And while I was at it, I did a good sweep of the Little One’s room too.

As I continued through the house, cleaning up the detritus of the kids’ toddler years (I was amazed how much was left), I got to thinking about clutter, and tidying up, and letting go.  While I love a neat and tidy house, I love being a mom and having my kids around more.  And thus, my house has, for the last eight years, been a jumble of toys and clutter.  Sure, it gets straightened up, on a not infrequent basis I might add, but its still there, lurking in bins and behind closet doors.

But, as the Lego, is slowly getting sorted and boxed, so are my emotions about the kids growing up.  We’re entering a new phase with them, one where we can adventure more, explore more (unencumbered by a stroller, no less!).  A phase that stands to be equally as fun and rewarding as the phase of toddlerhood has been.

And so, I’m going to start looking less towards the past, and more towards the future.  But in the meantime, I’m going to treasure every time my son holds my hand, every time my daughter climbs into my lap for a snuggle, every Disney movie they want to watch (even if it means seeing Frozen for the 1,000,000,000th time), every chance I can get them to still wear matching pj’s, and of course, every early morning wake-up (well, maybe not every time we get called by one of the kids waking up for the day at 4:30am), and every bedtime cuddle, because, as I look to the future, I know that all these lovely little moments will get fewer and further between.

 

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The Weight We Carry

Nope, this isn’t an article about post-thanksgiving weight management strategies (I may be Canadian, but we celebrate American thanksgiving which meant this was a weekend of family and food for us!).

Rather, it’s a note about the stories we tell ourselves; the stories we hold on to; the stories we assume without question to be true.

I was hit by this today as I was giving a radio interview this morning.  The backstory (are you starting to clue into the fact that there’s always a backstory with me?????) is this: Since my surgery, I have been very involved with the University Health Network, and specifically, the Brian Campaign at Toronto Western Hospital.  You see, the surgeon that removed my tumour is the top surgeon in his field.  In the world.  He in fact travels the world teaching other neurosurgeons how to perform a type of endo-nasal surgery to remove skull base tumours that eliminates the need for full crainiotomies (this is especially important in the developing world where there simply aren’t the resources for things like anesthesia to keep patients asleep for 12 hours like i had to be for my surgery – unfortunately my tumour was too large and complex for this type of surgery, so I had to have the full craniotomy).  And by raising money through the Brain Campaign and the other fundraising campaigns at the hospital, we can be assured that there will also be surgeons like mine at the hospital, ready to help us, in addition to helping these doctors with the amazing research that they are doing.  As today is Giving Tuesday, Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals were having a radio-thon today on Classical 96.3fm and I was asked to come and share my story on air.

The first question the interviewers asked me had to do with how I felt about my initial diagnosis.  With tears in my eyes (I’ve been told you could hear my voice crack a bit), I recounted just how hard it was to sit in a doctor’s office with a four month old baby sitting in a bucket car seat at your feet while being told you have a brain tumour.  But as I was talking, I looked up, and could see my beautiful four year old daughter skipping around the atrium (the radio-thon was held in the main atrium of Toronto General Hospital).  And then I looked to my son who was proudly sitting beside his dad, the Husband, smiling and giving me the thumbs up.

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Where am I going with this exactly?  Well, while I have been slowly letting go of how the tumour affected me, I’ve NEVER been able to let go of how the tumour affected my family.  I had to wean my baby when she was just four months so I could be ready for surgery; I spent over four months planning for the worst while trying to parent (those weren’t the best of times), and I had to leave my kids for a few days while I had the surgery and recovered in hospital.  And then there was the recovery at home after . . .

I have been holding onto these stories, these thoughts in my head for so long (well, four years to be exact); that somehow, I, through this journey, had caused irreparable damage (that’s maybe too strong a word, but it’s definitely how I’ve felt at times) to my kids, my family.

But today I realized, I have been carrying the weight of this for far too long.  My kids were perfectly happy today; and so was the Husband.  What we all went through wasn’t fun by any means.  It was a brutal phase in our lives that we have gotten through.  And there will be more unpleasant and nasty times in our lives that we will have to go through again as time marches on.

But we got through it.

We’re all better people for it.

And carrying around the weight of the thoughts that damage had somehow been done through that time in our lives was . . . well . . . that’s just carrying around a whole lot of dead weight.

And so . . . we all have difficult times that we have to get through.  Be kind to yourself when you’re going through them, and know that you will come out stronger.  And if someone you know is going through a tough time, support them and show them love and kindness; if you can, help to share their load, or unburden them of any dead weight that they might be carrying.

And of course, if you can, please remember to donate to the charity that is nearest and dearest to your heart, as it is Giving Tuesday.  (and if you’re looking for a cause, here’s a great one . . . please help support my fundraising efforts for the Brain Campaign)!

 

A Time for New Growth

“In order for there to be new growth, there must be a time of letting go”

-Danielle Orner

As I reflect on this past week, I realize I have been gently letting go of a lot of “stuff” lately, and especially this week.

There has been a letting go of items around the house that we simply no longer need. The bowls I blogged about the other day, the ones I just wasn’t ready to let go of . . . they’re gone.  The kids rooms continue to be quietly cleaned out of the toys and books that they just don’t use anymore.  And I even culled my giant bin of saved art that the kids have brought home over the last FIVE years.

There has been a letting go in terms of my perception of my family.  I can now acknowledge that we are all getting older.  The kids are growing up.  And some of the things we’ve done every year since they were babies, well, we might not do them again after this year.  (Realistically, at what age are my kids going to rebel against the idea of wearing matching pjs on special occasions like halloween and Christmas????).

And there has been a letting go of what has been.  I’m finally ready to give thanks for certain events in my life, but also to put them to rest.

And just as this process of letting go has been slow and gentle, so too will be the process of new growth.

And on that note, I thought I’d include a link to an article I read this morning entitled ““Screw Finding Your Passion”.  The greatest teachers in my life had had the initials “MM” which may be why I was inexplicably drawn to this guy’s writing . . . either that or I just really liked the title of the article.  Regardless, I think it’s pretty awesome, and you might too.  (thanks to my high school music teacher for posting this on Facebook!)

Now . . . to get the kids into their halloween costumes and set for a day of fun, sugar, and yet more sugar.  Planning a very calm night in tonight, serving some cauliflower soup that I whipped up yesterday morning and a chicken recipe a friend sent me two days ago that I can’t wait to try.

Happy Friday!!!

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