I opened a book last week and a bookmark slipped out onto the floor. It was a freebie from a favorite bookstore from my old life, back when I lived on the other side of the ocean. I loved that bookstore, with its coffee counter and author events and the way it always had exactly the book I needed even when it didn’t have the book I wanted.

The bookmark skidded across the floor, a little wave hello from another time, another me, a reminder that of the actual physical things that I packed and carried with me from that life, fewer and fewer remain. Clothes have become too small, plates have broken, toys have become boring. The things have stopped fulfilling their purpose and have given way to new things. There’s nothing to do but let them go. A spot somewhere between my heart and my throat clenched in missing and longing.

Recently I realized I’ve spent nearly every weekend for the past five years frustrated that I can’t seem to get myself and the kids out of the house like we did when we lived in Boston. Back then, being home on the weekends was a real struggle; our son’s disabilities made it hard for him to sit with anything for more than a couple of minutes, cycling through toys and activities at a pace that I couldn’t keep up with. My own inability to sit with that fact had me crawling the walls. Weekends became about getting up and getting out. Picnics, walks, bike rides, car rides to ice cream stands miles away, zoos…we were great at getting out.

These days, we don’t get out like we did then. Our house and life work differently and being at home works more often. But somewhere along the way I forgot that we went out because we had to, and when we didn’t anymore I started blaming myself that I wasn’t doing a good job parenting.

Like stuff, activities, habits, rituals and routines stop being useful. I forget that sometimes and cling to doing things the way I used to do them or having the things I used to have. It’s gotten me thinking about how what other worn out expectations and habits I’m holding onto, how much energy I’m pouring in to maintaining our old way of life and blaming myself when I don’t. Some things are worth the effort, but some things are no longer fit for purpose. I’m going to think about that for a while, and am curious to hear what you cling to or have let go of, too.

Published by Cristin Lind

Facilitator, consultant, speaker for better health and care through patient-professional partnership. Passionate about helping change agents build courage and agency. She/her.

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  1. Good post. I love that you’re writing here again. I cling to my vision of the future, which has become my now. In some ways, my life is not like I pictured it – I’m not knee deep in my business and I don’t have a partner. It’s time to adjust so that I don’t carry the weight of the gap on my shoulders. I am grateful for my life as it is.

    1. Yes, and not writing was something I was beating myself up about too sometimes. Good reflection that clinging to the future is another way we distance ourselves from the present. I’m glad you’re grateful — that you commented.

  2. For a while, I was clinging to a certain level of mobility. Balance, falling, and endurance issues. Then I let go determined to keep up with my 3500 step a day minimum, but let my wife do her 10,000 steps a day thing and travel to exotic places to hike with her friends. Then I got an electric wheelchair and 2 canes. Now I can tool along with her instead of her having to drop me off. I’m going to Spain with her in May. She’ll hike, I’ll do what I do. I also cleaned out a couple of closets and junk drawers. That was just as satisfying. Best

  3. I’ve been reading you for a while – as a fellow Bostonian. This was really thought provoking for me. My son is now 23 years old and we can no longer get out like we used to. I miss the ease of taking him out, and I also carry guilt for not getting him out as often as we did in the past, for walks, car rides, etc. But I think that’s more about my expectations than his. He is content and I always feel like I should be doing more. Thanks for sharing what probably many of us feel.

    1. Thanks for reaching out! A colleague of mine often reminds me that we are our own prison guards. It really is true to me at times when I see the way we guilt ourselves in parenting. Say hi to Boston for me, and visit a good independent bookstore if you have a favorite (mine was Porter Square Books) in Cambridge.

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