Monday, January 3, 2011

MFA Monday: Learning to Let Go

I'll admit it: December wasn't very good to me. Two weeks after breaking my foot and spraining my ankle, I came down with the flu that led to a nasty sinus infection and multiple days of cry-in-a-darkened-room migraines. Seriously. The fact that I managed to make it to Christmas dinner at all was a miracle.

Now that January has arrived, I'm on the mend. For the first time in a month I managed to shed the ugly walking cast and eschew my class-A pain killers and swallow the last of the antibiotics and appear nearly normal.

Which is good, because in four days I climb on an airplane and head to the west coast and my first residency.

While the timing of the foot/flu wouldn't have been my first choice, I have to admit - now that I'm on the other side of it - that there's definitely a silver lining. I learned something last month that I desperately needed before leaving for school.

I learned it's okay to let go of some things.

It is possible to host a fairly large gaggle of family for Christmas dinner. Even if the house does not look perfect. Even if the kitchen sink faucet breaks the night before said hosting. Even if the person bringing dessert also comes down with a cold and can't come and all you have are frozen cookies you made early in the month in a moment of uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Even if not all the presents are beautifully wrapped (or wrapped at all), or you have to make a executive decision that due to lack of mobility there will not be a turkey at the table this year (other than your husband and brother-in-law).

It is okay if the kids clothe themselves and do their own hair. Even if nothing matches and it looks like a blind person put the pony-tail in.

It's going to be necessary to learn to say, "I'm sorry, I'd LOVE to play that board game with you, but mommy has to lock herself in her room and do her homework before she can play."

I learned that when it's important, my family can totally take care of the puppy.

All of these things I needed to know before I left for school. Like a weight lifted off me, I watched from the sidelines as my family did all the things they needed to do to keep moving without me. It wasn't always the way I wanted, or without pain, but they did it.

I need to let go of wanting everything to be perfect, and accept that some days, just making it to the end of the day all together is all we can ask.

I won't be making any New Year's Resolutions this year.

I won't be perfecting any super-mom role. I won't be promising myself this year I'll get everywhere on time, I'll bake fresh cupcakes for every school party, I'll keep the house sparkling and the lawn green, or that I'll make healthier dinners every night. I'm sure not promising you I'll write wittier, more thoughtful or more regular blog posts.

I'm thinking, based on the amount of time it's taking me to critique these nine stories that we'll be workshopping next week in residency, that probably all of that will suffer.

I can't be everything to everybody. It's true.

And something about learning that is freeing, even if it takes the excuse of a broken foot and the flu - or school - to teach me.


  1. No you can't be everything, but you can be you. And that is the best 'being' of all.
    I'm glad you are feeling better. And more than that, glad you see the gifts that December brought you were more than the ones under your Christmas tree.

  2. You've definitely had a rough few weeks, but what's amazing is the spin you put on the whole thing.

    We definitely kill ourselves trying to make everything perfect, but really nothing can be perfect, because our idea of it keeps changing.

    Good luck with your MFA program. Can't wait to hear all about it.

  3. That is a nice feeling (that the world doesn't depend on you).

    Sounds like a rough few weeks and that you made it through.

    Hoping this month is a better one for you.

  4. Good for you! That's a hard lesson to learn!

  5. Yay for you! While I'm not glad that all the health issues hit you at once this Christmas, I am glad that you managed to find the value in it all. What a great lesson...and so much easier to leave the family - and the puppy - for school next week! Good luck -I'd say, "Break a leg" but that wouldn't even be funny.

  6. In the words of the great Dr. Seuss...

    "Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than YOU!"

  7. So you leave home for school? Somehow I thought you would be there to do it. Wow. You have a lot ahead of you. YOu are so right about our expectations. I don't put many on myself at holidays at all anymore.
    Enjoy life!

  8. yeah, I make goals but I also realize what's realistic and what's not. I've been doing certain things the same way for a lot of years, I keep doing them the same way and so something's working for me, even if my life feels, at times, chaotic.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your adventures in your MFA classes!

  9. I just stopped by to tell you that I am reading your book. It is hitting very close to home for me as my 16 yr old was diagnosed with JD at 3.
    It is taking my breath away....