Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Go With the Flow

Dear Friends,

Typing with one hand - do any other nursing moms out there relate? We grab our moments when we can....Such a classic....

So, last Saturday I decided to run an experiment: Let it flow. See, hidden in here is still my penchant toward controlling, well, everything. "Let." As if it were an option to stop or prevent the flow of the day. Not that I want to stop the flow. I'd prefer to direct it. 

In my more self-benevolent moments, I'd like to reframe this desire to direct as "helping." But at its heart, I know it is bossy, nagging, and manipulative. I suspect it elicits feelings of -at the very least-irritation and at its worst probably beleaguered defeat.

I'm like a border collie, but rather than exhibiting merely herding behavior, I attempt to get everyone to follow my Master Plan. 

Trouble is, my poor family, with me barking and nipping at its heels, is not being allowed to just be.  And I include myself in that group.  And oops, there it is again: "allowed." Permit, let, allow-this language reveals the mindset that I am somehow in charge, or at least trying very hard to be so.

So, here is the truth of the matter. My penchant for controlling, my desire to direct, and help, and herd, is all borne of one thing: fear. Anxiety, what-ifs, how to do it better, how to create the perfect environment for a child's growth. Aha, irony! In trying to micro-manage the members of my family and attempting to orchestrate the order of the day, I end up self-defeated. Instead of freedom, there is lock-down. In place of creativity, there is Carrie's Law of Order. Rather than empowering my husband to develop his parenting skills and explore the children's nuances, my actions undermine the natural unfolding of their relationship.

Hence, my decision to run an experiment last weekend: Let it flow. I intentionally chose that language-"Let"-so I could hang onto that familiar companion: the illusion of control.  I repeated this as my mantra throughout the day. Let it flow. Let it flow.

Here is what I discovered-or actually uncovered: There is a peacefulness underlying letting go. The very anxieties I was trying to eliminate dissolved in the process of letting go. That unreachable itch was soothed when I stopped trying to scratch. The border collie was at rest.

Before making this "aha" discovery, though, I was frankly astonished by the numerous, the bountiful, the sheer multitude of times I stopped myself from jumping in and directing my family's interactions and reminded myself: Let it flow. I am so vigilant and committed to creating a certain ideal living environment, that I can more easily understand why I'm just so incredibly exhausted at the end of every day. Managing  all of the behaviors and communications is too much work, and it's not working.

Okay. So, after catching myself about a hundred times, I stopped stubbornly trying to hold back the river's flow with my two bare hands. And something happened. Without my conscious choice, my mantra changed over several hours. To my surprise, it had become "Go with the flow." I could barely remember starting with "Let...." It just changed. I changed. Without nipping, cajoling, barking, pushing, herding, meddling or suggesting. It simply happened when I let go and just flowed.

And guess what? The world still turned, the day unfolded, the river flowed, and the sheep enjoyed a full day of open, self-directed grazing and bonding.  My heart was filled with more love than ever for my family, and more compassion for myself.


  1. Going with the flow...a huge accomplishment for those of us who need to control. Thanks for sharing this very personal journey toward compassion for self and enduring love!

  2. Dear Mom,

    Thank you for your ongoing love and support along the way!

  3. Going with the flow is so diffcult for me, but I try. I totally related to the way you described the feeling of needing to control and also the great relief when we do go with the flow.
    Your mom told me about your blog and while this is my first visit I look forward to sharing your journey.

  4. Thank you, Jeanette, for sharing the journey!