As I minimize on The Trek to Tiny, really strip everything back to the basics, I realize that I am also learning how to downsize my parenting. Letting go of clothes, and furniture, dishes, and knick-knacks, as well as hundreds of photographs is easy in comparison of letting go of my kids. It happens … they grow up.
There were years of wiping tears and noses and bottoms, folding endless loads of laundry, reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” over and over and watching “The Land Before Time” enough that I had a solid affection for Littlefoot the Apatosaurus, and wondering if I would ever sleep again.
During the home school years we made a mess in the kitchen with art, science and cooking. I made everyone cry teaching them math, and we got through it together. We explored the mountains and the ocean and loved our log home in the country with dogs, cats and gardens. I spent what felt like forever skiing the bunny hill on Schweitzer teaching the three of them to make “french fries” and “pizza wedges” while sliding downhill. We practiced Taekwondo, learning forms, and weapons and self-defense. Sweating our way through the stress of belt tests the four of us discovered how to encourage and persevere. Taking on an exchange student for a year added another culture and more love to the mix.
The summer before our family life unraveled with a divorce we sang and danced our way through “The Music Man” unable to erase the hours of rehearsals from our psyche.
“We can be cold
As our falling thermometers in December
If you ask about our weather in July.”
“Iowa Stubborn” and all the other catchy tunes brought us closer to our community and we had opening night jitters and closing night elation. Other productions followed with same excitement and late night rehearsals.
The kids made it through high school, learning that “this too shall pass” when the stress and social challenges of being a teenager become overwhelming. The youngest will be entering in to his senior year this fall, the empty nest is looming. I’m so grateful for the adventures we’ve shared, the slums of India, beautiful back-country scenery and impossibly long bike rides.
And so, I am learning to downsize my parental worries and tasks, and telling myself everything is OK when what feels like long stretches of no communication become the norm as my kids build their young adult lives and independently discover the world in which they live. The fact they are able to do those very things means the parenting wasn’t perfect but it was successful.
For now I enjoy it when the kids trickle in and out of the house for visits, and soak up this last remaining year with the baby of the family. Truth be told, I am excited about the next chapter for my life!