Sweating The Small Stuff
A lot is happening four weeks from now.
My husband Jason and I are hosting family for Christmas in LA. I’ll be on a holiday break from work. And what else, what else…? Oh yeah, our lives will be changing forever with the birth of our son.
Last year at this time, I wasn’t even sure we’d be able to have a biological child so to have just written that sentence makes me weak with gratitude.
Things are slowly coming together in preparation for his arrival. The crib is set-up, the birth class was taken, even the panicked-crying-after-the-class-in-the-car-to-my-husband was complete.
Diapers: check! Changing table: check! Adorable outfits he’ll immediately ruin with poop: check!
When it comes to this baby, I’m trying to prepare for it all. I’m like one of those disaster preppers – if the apocalypse happens I’ve got a car hidden in the woods and a cold cabin stocked with food.
I’ve had a tough time relinquishing control of the planning, even to Jason. I feel like if I don’t do it, I won’t know it’s exactly right. Jason has been patient with me, letting me decide almost everything. But he drew the line when I wanted to paint the nursery.
We picked out the paint together, sure, but he refused to let me actually paint. He was concerned about the fumes and because I’m a paranoid first-time mom, I agreed with him.
But I was worried. I’m the one in our relationship that’s meticulous about details. Jason’s a big picture guy. It’s one of the things I love most about him but it also means he falls down almost every time we go hiking because he’s too busy looking at where he wants to go and not how he’ll get there. But we decided he would paint. How bad could it be?
A half hour in, I peeked to see how he was fairing. I found Jason rocking out to ‘80s music, using the roller brush like he was in a race. Up and down the walls at lightning speed, paint splattering on him, on other walls, and – be still my heart – the white ceiling.
I stumbled backward like I’d just walked into a murder scene as Jason turned around, grinning. “What do you think? It looks good, huh?”
I didn’t know what to say. All of my instincts wanted me to march into the room, rip the roller from his hand, and just do it myself. But in the name of maintaining a healthy marriage (and not being a crazy person) I stayed where I was.
The reality is, at the root of my need to control everything is fear. Fear that I won’t be a good mom, fear that I’ll mess up in a way that’ll affect the rest of our child’s life, fear that a careless choice will end in disaster.
When it comes to parenting, the list of things I don’t know is terrifying. And so I micro-manage in an attempt to soothe the panic, hoping I can stifle all that terror under the perfect diaper pail and a well-chosen crib mattress.
But I’m learning the only way I can really fend it off – really make sure it doesn’t consume me – is to start letting go a little bit. Start admitting that despite my best efforts, I’m not in control of anything.
So I met Jason’s gaze in that paint splattered room and attempted a smile. “I love the color,” I managed to squeak out before closing the door. I stood in the hallway listening to the roller resume it’s lighting fast pace and took a deep breath. This didn’t matter, not really, not in the grand scheme of things.
Our son will never remember that there was a little paint on the celling but he might remember that his dad painted the room especially for him. And that’s a detail that matters.
Besides, as my mom reminded me when I called her in desperation, I can always repaint.
Photo By The Image Is Found