I took a nap on the day before Christmas. It helped that I was feeling a little off, but I looked at my to do lists (the one for this week and the one for the day) and dropped them in the recycling bin. I decided the ornaments I was making for my girls didn't need to be finished before Christmas morning. I had already decided to nix a bunch of craft projects that would have been nice but didn't need to happen. There are presents to wrap for my family later this week. I still have a jumble of jams and pickles to be bagged and delivered to friends and neighbors. But it was done. And it was enough.
I have not always been good at this, at letting go of what I want and expect to do. The truth is I'm still not always great at it, but I've gotten so much better. I still make my lists and sometimes they are ambitious, but I recognize when I can't. And then I don't. And it turns out, it keeps being enough.
For so many years, I set the expectations and then got frustrated and overextended trying to meet them. And then I got pregnant. I was exhausted in December 2006 and I looked at the list of ornaments that I planned to make for my nieces and nephew and friends babies, oh and wouldn't want the older sibling to be left out, and . . . yeah, nobody cared. It was one of those traditions I had established and clung to and finally realized I could let go of. Henry gave me this gift even before he was born.
And then after he died, there was just so much I couldn't do. So I didn't. And it was enough. Even now, as I start to reintroduce things and face new options I don't pile it on and if I do and realize it is too much, I back off. Sometimes it seems like less a lesson learned and more utter exhaustion, but for many years I simply pushed through exhaustion as if completing it all were a badge of honor, as if giving in was defeat. I still make to do lists, still like them as reminders of what I'd like to do, still love the satisfaction of crossing of the things I've done, but I've learned to love crossing things of the list that don't have to be done, that I can let go of. I've learned a lot about letting go these past five and half years. This is the bit that has served me the best.