Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Lisa Hassan Scott
Photo: Lydia & Charley courtesy Jen Reinhardt
This time last year, I was worrying about subliminal messages that a Barbie doll can relay. In a nutshell, I am more powerful than Barbie.
In letting go of this “issue,” it has become a non-issue. We avoided a big conflict, and lo and behold, Iona has played with these dolls only a handful of times. I have to admit that they are much more endearing once played with in the bath, complete with natty hair and lipstick slightly smudged and scratched.
This experience has led me to reflect that much of parenting is about letting go. When sculptors first contemplate the chunk of stone in front of them, complete with rough edges, cracks, and dust, they have a vision for the beautiful masterpiece that it will become. Before I became a mother, I must have been akin to that stone monolith. My children have been slowly chipping away at me, with hammer and chisel (sometimes with an angle-grinder, it has to be said—I am pretty tough!), making me into a masterpiece—a mother who can meet their needs and go beyond what I ever thought I could achieve in terms of patience, unconditional love, and sacrifice.
Letting go is not the same as giving in. Although I compromised about the Barbie issue, there are times when I need to let go of the frustration I feel when the children and I don’t agree on a particular rule—but the rule still stands. Letting go means trusting that the effort and love I have been giving since the moment we conceived our daughters will affect them in such a way as to enable them to trust me, emulate me, and hopefully go beyond that: to be better people than I am.
Letting go is about trusting that my attachment to my children will withstand rows, disagreements, and impasses. It means accepting that we won’t always agree on hairstyles, clothing trends, or choices in toys. But I hope that when it comes down to the biggies—the important decisions that my children will have to make—Keith and I will have prepared them to make good choices.
Letting go is not the same as giving in.
At the beginning of our mothering journey we are forced to let go. The baby must emerge one way or another, a realization that often comes with fear and excitement when those first contractions are felt during labor. The baby arrives and breastfeeding begins. Perhaps labor, birth, and breastfeeding don’t go as planned. Perhaps the baby wants to be held more than we anticipated. Maybe sleep is a pipedream, a memory of life before children.
Whatever our experience, whatever our age of children, mothers spend much of their time living from moment to moment. Moving forward from the difficult birth experience to be there 100% for our newborns, persevering with breastfeeding even when the first few days have been a real challenge, forgetting about the cruel words my daughter spoke to me before school, and then greeting her with a fresh smile and a hug at the end of the school day.
Children model “letting go” beautifully. As I fume over an argument about whether or not she should wear a coat in minus three-degree weather, Eilidh has forgotten it completely. As I reel from my daughters’ last fight, fretting over whether they will grow up to be friends or foes, they have resumed quiet happy play, and have seemingly forgotten about the turmoil that transpired only moments ago.
So sure, some might say I “caved in” when it came to Barbies, and a lot of things. But does it really matter? Each day I practice letting go of the things that just don’t matter. And as the chisel does its magic on me, as my rough edges are smoothed and the dust is brushed away, I emerge as a work of art: I am a mother.
Lisa Hassan Scott is an LLL Leader living in South Wales, UK, with husband Keith and their three children. She wrote this piece in 2009. Lisa writes a parenting blog.