Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Control Freak

I am a control freak. Perhaps that is not the most becoming way of describing it, but that is the bare naked truth. I think I have been this way much of my life, which is way I am a little obsessive about cleaning, being on time, managing my money, running, etc. Let me give you a few examples and may these not portray me as a crazy person.

1. I don't like crumbs on my counter, on the floor or in the toaster oven.
2. The shower curtain must be closed.
3. It's hard for me to walk by the sink and not stop to do the dishes or put them away.
4. I get extremely frustrated when I am late for something, ie church, work, etc.
5. I check my bank account several times a week to make sure I didn't miss any debits, etc. I know where our money is going, and I hate it when my balance in my checking account is lower than my desired number.
6. The bed has to be made, and I almost always put my clothes away.
7. When I come home from work, I empty my bag, put away my work shoes and hang it on the door.
8. I hate clutter.
9. I usually do the dishes while I am cooking, so I don't have a sinkful when I am done.
10. I like to be prepared, so I always want to know the plan ahead of time and make sure that everything is taken care of.

I think that is enough to suffiently present me as a very non-fun, boring person. However, I assure you that I am still fun or at least Cameron still tells me that I am. But the reason I bring this up is not to point out my crazy idiosyncracies so much as to point out that I once again find myself in a position where I am losing control.

This happens every so often in my life. Usually, it's the Lord trying to tell me that I need to let go of the reins for a while and let Him take over. I've been driving too hard for too long trying to get the carraige up the hill by myself in Fred Flintstone style while the horses take a nap on the side of the road and He sits next to me begging me to let go and give him a chance to drive as my white knuckle determination through life leaves me feeling exhausted and kind of sleepy at the reins. Cameron is right there too having tried to get me to give up control of this inevitably moving force but wisely allowing me continue on this impossible path until I realize that I really can't do it alone and he was there helping me all the time. Whether this is a product of being single and independent for such a long time or just a product of my nature is irrelevant. It's something that needs to be remedied with a little humility and a reminder that I am not really the one in control.

This particular time it comes in the form of life itself. I no longer have complete control over my body, what it looks like and what's happening to it. There is another person in there calling the shots right now. As much as I like to think that I can wear my regular clothes for the duration of this pregnancy, I am only fooling myself and setting myself up for disappointment every time I try to put on a pair of pants that I discover no longer can be buttoned. It only happened occasionally at first but now with more frequency and rapidity. My current wardrobe is quickly diminishing, and I admit that it's like a punch in the stomach every time. I can't control the fact that my belly is getting bigger, my abs have all but disappeared and my center of gravity is changing. These are all natural by products of creating another human life. I keep telling myself to stop fighting it and embrace it and perhaps by the time our little one is born I will be embracing it fully. My defiance is not at all related to how I feel about our growing family. This was planned all along and something that we wanted and are more than thrilled about, but I am quickly discovering that this is a much needed lesson for me.

Our lives as we know them are going to change forever in a matter of months. It is a good thing, a beautiful thing, a progression of life. But it is not really something I can wrap my head around nor will I until I am in the moment, sitting in my apartment with a new baby after our moms have gone home and it is just us trying to write our own manual to raising our children. It won't hit me that my definition of freedom and free time has been erased and replaced with a new one until the reality of being completely responsible for another person washes over me like a tsunami. This is not middle school home economics where you have to carry a 10 lb bag of flour around for a week so you know what it's like to have a baby. Flour doesn't cry, it has no emotions, it doesn't sleep or wake up, it doesn't respond. It's just a sack of flour and if you accidentally leave it somewhere Child Welfare Services is not going to come after you and cart you off to jail for neglect.

For some people, pregnancy is a glorious and beautiful time, and it is. But for me, it is also a trial course in letting go. So far, my grades are not so good, but it's a good thing I have a couple more months before the final exam. I'm learning about gratitude, blessings and humility in ways I never have before. I am learning that it's not my job to carry all the weight and responsibilities of my life, marriage and the world. Someone has already done that for me and continues to do so every day of my life if I only took the time to see it. God loves me for being so strong. He created me afterall. But strengths can become weaknesses if we are not careful. That is why I am grateful for experiences like this one that force me to take a good look at all that is wonderful and beautiful in my life and how much I can be truly grateful for. This time is preparing me to be a good mother, one that loves but doesn't control. One that embraces and enjoys the uncertainties and spontaneities of life. One that relies not solely on herself but equally on her husband and the Lord and herself.

Will I still try to hang on to the reins? Probably, but I am loosening my grip. The white knuckes are fading, and I am preparing to take a turn in the back seat. I will always be strong because that is who I am, but the strongest people are those who have the ability to recognize their weaknesses and relinquish control when it is often most difficult. This little one is teaching me long before I have the opportunity to teach him. That's the real beauty of this experience.


Oliver & Margy said...

Nikki - I like this mental journey. Don't feel alone in your desire for order in the confusion, or plans in the chaos. (And props to Cameron for keeping crumbs out of the toaster oven!)

Kristyn said...

Nikki -- I am SO there with you. I had the same struggles and continue to with each kid and each new phase their ages bring. There are times I am able to let go and then I start trying to be in charge again until Got whacks me in the head with a reminder of who is ultimately in charge. Its a vicious cycle that my stubborness creates -- I don't know if it will ever change, but we are who we are!

Nikki said...

So I didn't even know that you were pregnant. Congratulations! When is the big day? It reallys sucks to watch your body expand, but it is so worth it when your beautiful new baby is born. You are going to be an incredible mom, and as much as you enjoy working out you will be back in shape in no time!!

Nicole Cave said...

So, I just have to be honest...motherhood will definately force you to let some things go, but, I don't know if that instinct to have things the way that you want it ever really goes away...Ashton is more laid back than me and sometimes I struggle to try to let things slide a little here and there. In the end I just want the toys picked up, or the counter wiped off, or all the shoes put into the basket. It is a constant struggle for me. Maybe you will be better at it. The way I look at it is someone has to take control of the reins or everthing would be out of control...so I do not believe being a "control freak" is necessarily a bad thing!
So, when are you due!!

teamkc said...

I understand how you feel; apparently it is completely normal. I am now enjoying being pregnant - it is fun to watch the little baby (oh, it's a girl for us, by the way) move. I still have moments where the body changes are much different than I expected/or didn't expect on me. C'est la vie! Good luck!

Beth&Cody said...

I am also a control-freak and had the same fears and anxieties before Morgan was born. Sadly the impulse to control does not completely go away but with the Lord's help and a lot of love and understanding and encouragment from Cody, we are surviving. You will be great!

Doug and Dawn Hardy said...

I love the way you put things. I too am a control freak and have struggled with each of my kids. I have learned to let go a little and learn that it's all about time. How much time there is in a day and how much time I have to play with my kids. I learned that the messes will always be there but that time with your kids fades fast. Once your baby is born and the reality hits I know that you will find a way to balance it all. Just know that you are not alone. I think many moms feel this way.

McLeod Clan said...

Nikki I am so thrilled for you!! Congratulations!!!

familia Bybaran said...

Hey there. I totally agree with you and this lack a control that you feel during pregnancy is a nice preparation for being a mother--as you mention. I feel like you really have to say goodbye to what you thought about control. It's total chaos to have a newborn, but you will love it--I think way more than being pregnant. I didn't really like being pregnant either. I really don't know what's to like. It's the child that's the prize.