“The best way to navigate through life is to give up all of our controls.”
― Gerald G. Jampolsky
I'm kind of a control freak. I'm not a control freak in the traditional sense. I don't obsess about cleanliness and I don't really care if my schedule changes at the last minute and plans are basically a loose guideline as far as I'm concerned. But, boy, I REALLY want people to DO WHAT I WANT THEM TO DO.
This past school year, I have participated in a Free Your Mind And Lose Control exercise. It's been wildly successful. The program went something like this:
- Thing 2 had a three-day field trip to Washington, D.C.
- Since I went with Thing 1 on HIS three-day field trip a couple of years ago, I thought it would be nice if My Ex-Husband took Thing 2 this year.
- Thing 2, since he's exceptionally diplomatic, didn't want his dad to feel "left out" and so agreed that his father should "get to go" on the extended field trip. (Oh, the gloriously delicious GLEE I felt when this decision was made because I have STORIES about the DC field trip. Another time, perhaps?)
- Typically, I manage all forms and communication with teachers.
- For this ONE thing, I decided to LET IT GO. A three-day field trip and all of its meetings and forms and deadlines and schedules is a lot to manage. And here, I would have just been the middle-man, passing along information to the ultimately responsible party. So, I decided that I would not handle ONE SINGLE THING for this field trip and I just gave it, as a package deal, to my Ex-Husband.
- Panic ensued.
Side story: We both waited tables at the same restaurant in college. Actually, he ended up getting the job to begin with because he drove me to the restaurant to apply and while he was just STANDING there, the manager looked over at him and said, "Hey, are you looking for work?" He kinda shrugged and ended up walking out with a job. Many months went by and, one day, he decided that he didn't really FEEL like going in for his shift...ever again. So, he called (mind you, a mere 30 minutes prior to the beginning of a shift) and said "Yeah, I'm not really coming in to work tonight. Or ever, really." I think they practically apologized to him for the inconvenience and, several weeks later, needed some help on a shift. I was there slaving away (probably on a double because I was nothing if not an extremely poor collegiate martyr) and they asked "Hey, do you think HE might like to come in for a shift?" I paused and looked at the manager, mouth agape. "SERIOUSLY? He QUIT. With NO NOTICE. And you want him to COME IN FOR A SHIFT? Shouldn't you HATE him?" But they didn't. They still loved him. Because he's MAGIC.
OK, back to the control thing.
So, I didn't sign a single form for this field trip and I didn't attend a single meeting. I don't even KNOW if the Ex-Husband attended any meetings about the field trip. I literally had NO CLUE what was going on. They even changed the DATES and I didn't realize it for MONTHS.
But it was the healthiest thing I've ever done. For me. AND for the Ex-Husband. He is not an idiot. As a matter of fact, he is FAR more intelligent than I am. He is completely capable of handling things on his own. But because I have control issues (over people), I really always handled everything to do with school, with doctors, and with the kids in general. I have now realized, though, that he NEEDS to handle some of this stuff in order to be fully engaged as a father.
Once again, it's NOT ALL ABOUT ME.
The field trip worked out just fine. Even though they had MY name on the chaperone list up until the day before the trip (why on EARTH?), he showed up and he is currently doing his duty in D.C. with his son. I think they're having a fine time from the text updates I've received. It all worked out. Naturally. With no help from me. I simply don't need to control the world.
I've relaxed about a lot of things lately. Thing 1 is fully responsible for his school work. It's HIS life, not mine. If he wants to screw around and not turn in his homework...well, that's not MY FAULT. He suffers the consequences of his behavior (no technology! the horror!) because I'm NOT going keep reminding him to turn in his work. I'm not going to stress out about his grades because it's HIS life and he will ultimately need to step up...or step off...because he is the one who will be raking in minimum wage dollars at the local slop shop if he doesn't do the work. Same goes with Thing 2. I've been through school. I don't need to re-live it. REALLY. I DO NOT need to re-live it.
I'm learning to let go. I can't control the people around me. And they don't need controlling. Who am I to tell anyone how to live a life? Life...just happens.
Maybe I'll relax a little tonight with an adult beverage. After all, I'm not a chaperone...
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