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6 Things I’m Letting Go of as a Parent in the New Year

I’m not a person who holds on to things. Practical in my sentimentality and bored of grudges easily, I seem to have no problem letting things go. That is, of course, unless parenting is involved.

Like many of you, I’ve sat up nights scolding myself for the way I parented that day. I’ve made inspired plans to do better; be better. I’ve mentally run away only to immediately return with new hope and an impossible plan for a brighter tomorrow. I’ve slept on my misgivings. Prayed on them. Cried on them. But of all the things I’ve done in parenting — both well and not so well — I’ve always taken extreme responsibility for the bad, and little, if any, credit for the good.

As self-aware as I pride myself to be, I hadn’t realized how much nasty stuff I’d been holding on to until I read this article about a year-end soul cleanse. It occurred to me that my self-imposed burden as a mother was much too heavy. Why had I been hoarding so much guilt and negative emotion? Why had I expected the impossible from myself all these years? Could it be that my best might be good enough? Could it be that my “mistakes” are simply a matter of perception?

I suppose deep inside my mom heart lurks a small room filled with anguish and affliction; a place I have trouble reconciling the parent I am with the parent I want to be. Opening the door is one thing, but purging it of every guilt and impossible standard isn’t easy. I have to uncover each one, dust it off, determine whether it possesses any true value worth learning from, and then somehow, let it go. It’s uncomfortable and even confusing sometimes, but it’s necessary work that’s long overdue.

As I take inventory of the good and attempt to repurpose the not so good, I’ve been keeping a little list of my own parenting soul cleanse. Some of these might sound a little silly or even wildly obvious, but each one takes up heart space better served with better thoughts. Take a look at six parenting things to let go of before the New Year:

1. Where my teenage son will go to college:

Including, but not limited to:

  • If he’ll go to college
  • How we’ll ever afford for him to go to college
  • How well he’ll care for himself in college
  • Actually, all things college

2. Regrets I feel about doing too much:

  • Worrying
  • Enabling
  • Nagging
  • Yelling

3. Regrets I feel about not doing enough:

  • Encouraging
  • Listening
  • Snuggling
  • Inspiring

4. Doubts I have about:

  • Being good enough
  • Trying hard enough
  • Finding joy enough
  • Having faith enough

5. Anything that has ever made me:

  • Question my parenting choices
  • Feel the need to justify my parenting actions
  • Trust a supposed “expert” in spite of my intuition

6. Comparing:

  • My kids to other kids
  • My kids to each other
  • My kids to myself
  • Myself to other parents
  • Myself to my unattainable version of the perfect parent

Fellow parents, what are you looking to let go of before the New Year?

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