When control freak parents have to take a step back

You guys know that I am totally and completely OC about certain things (cluttered countertops, what the kids are wearing, etc.) and very laid-back about others (like caring if my sewing projects turn out exactly right … pssssst, they never do). I also hate accepting help, and insist on doing pretty much everything myself, period, end of story.

But the main thing I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks since my surprise hysterectomy is that there is a time and a place to LET IT GOOOOO. Channel Elsa, whatever, just GIVE UP CONTROL for the sake of everyone around you.

A lot of my friends have been doing this for years, in cases where their retired parents frequently babysit their children while they’re at work. They already figured out the importance of sharing their home and giving up control, and letting their parents have a certain amount of free reign.

Me? Nope, sorry. Didn’t get it until very, very recently.


The counters are cluttered and it’s making me twitch. A few magazines. A stack of mail. Preschool artwork. Napkins. Charge cords. Small toys. More mail. An empty cup. Seriously, is that a third mail pile? 

But I bite my tongue, because I can’t do anything about it. Not yet, anyway. 

There is a time in every parent’s life when you wave the white flag and call in the cavalry (a.k.a. your parents or in-laws). It might be because you need them to babysit on a regular basis, or you need help financially, or you need a place to stay while you house-hunt. In our case, it was desperately needing help with the kids while I recovered from a sudden surgery that would prevent me from driving for six weeks. 

Since we moved into our home three years ago, we’ve been at least an hour away from most of our immediate family —and a two-day drive from the rest. This meant that we got very used to handling things ourselves, since we didn’t have nearby relatives to call on for help. It also meant that we were totally unprepared for the control you must relinquish when you call on your family for help. 

While I spent four (completely unexpected) days in the hospital — and my husband was mostly there with me — it was like the ultimate trust exercise. Here parents, take our car keys. Move into our house. Watch our kids. Feed them and wash them and keep them alive, with pretty much no instruction from us …

Continue reading in my weekly column, The Mom Scene … 

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