Letting Go: No one cared about the cupcakes.

#Reverb10  Prompt for December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)*

I’m not good at letting go.  Not in most senses of the word.  It’s hard for me to know when to stop, hard to know when I’ve invested enough time, hard to know when it’s just enough.

It feels to me like too many people are willing to just let go when things get challenging, to just let people and things drift away from them when with a little effort so many dear things and people could be kept close.  I err too far in the other direction, I think as a sort of counterbalance to how many people I know let things ebb away.

I’ve been working on it though, learning what to keep.  And I’ve been putting it into practice in small ways.

I have fairly high standards for myself in some things (and in others I have appalling low ones, but let’s stay on topic here).  I try to always bake things from scratch (a cake mix feels like cheating to me – stupid as that is), I try to minimize how much help I ask for, I try to make the things I care about as close to my vision of them as possible.  It’s fairly exhausting at times.

So this year I tried to figure out where the important things were and hold on to them.  I tried to judge how much I could get done in the time frame I had and yet arrive at my destination (event/activity/cake) unflustered and unrushed.  It has taken a lot of practice, since, on some level, I feel that if something is Christinely-possible then I should knock myself out to accomplish it.

I’ve had to give myself a stern talking-to on this and I’ve learned to say no to myself about half the time when I start to go into overdrive and want to cram more into the time before an event.  Just because I *can* make a fourth dessert doesn’t mean I should, and probably no one will notice anyway.

This has meant letting go of one notion of myself as a superhero, as she who can do the impossible (at great, invisible personal cost) and start my evenings/events/parties dressed up, with make-up on and ready to go instead of taking 30m after everyone gets here to get into party mode because I had to rush through my personal preparations in order to have everything ‘ready.’

What does a practical example of this look like?

Well, take my six year old’s party two weeks ago.  Last year, I would have knocked myself out to have all three floors of the house tidy, I would have bought a ton of food for the parents who might show up, and I would have baked the cupcakes from scratch (and made the icing from scratch ,too).

This year, I tidied the main floor (and forbid the kids to go up or down),  I told the parents that my house was small and there would be a crowd of kids so they should probably go home (in a friendly tone, not a snarky one) and I bought icing and made the cupcakes from a mix.

Here’s the thing, the cupcakes were a party ‘prop’ –  a reward for finding 10 chocolate coins at the videogame themed party – and only the kids were eating them.  They weren’t the main cake, he wanted chocolate dipped donuts** as his cake (they were great, held they candles perfectly).  Last year I would have really felt like I had failed if I served those cupcakes.  This year I focussed on the fact that by using a mix I had time to let the birthday help me make the cupcakes, and I started the party relaxed instead of overwhelmed. No one else noticed the cupcakes but me.

I think I made a good move there.

*I’m a day behind. Yesterday was wacky around here.

**Go ahead, muse about the crap I feed my children if you like.  Birthdays are for all manner of treats in my books.