These days I have to work hard to open my eyes in the morning. The alarm clock glows yellow, but the numbers appear so fuzzy, I can’t read the time. No matter, it’s definitely before 6am. My thoughts and feelings match my eyesight at that early hour, like I’m trying to view them through a fogged up window. I’m sure there must be some clarity, and a good deal of positivity possible, but the words are blurred, however much I squint at them.
These mornings, my temptation is to try and wrestle back some control. When too much is confusing and uncertain, I attempt to put fences around the few things I see clearly in front of me. More often than not, that’s my small children, who are painfully clear as they jolt my day into gear far earlier than I would like.
Last week, we escaped to the park early one morning while the London commuters were still piling onto the Tube in their pressed suits, because I was craving silence, and both their voices—one still just a babble or a cry; one newly and irrepressibly vocal—were echoing in my head as if I’d been partying hard the night before.
With my coffee in one hand, pushchair in the other, I tried to regain control: “THIS way, Kaya,” I called, first in lightbeat tones, quickly growing more exasperated. I wanted to keep to the paths with this awkward heavy double buggy, but my headstrong girl was veering off them.
“Kaya, come on! This way! The ducks are this way.”
She looked at me and shook her head emphatically, then turned and headed off across an unmown meadow of grass.
I stood watching her for a moment, wondering if she’d come back. The baby was still asleep but it wouldn’t be long before he was waking, and I wanted to be headed home by then. But no, she was walking determinedly on, towards a fallen tree trunk on the far side of the meadow.
It hit me in that moment with the clarity of a window being wiped clean of condensation, the choice in front of me: I could keep trying to wrestle control of this situation, pushing my voice louder, clashing with my free-spirited girl.
Or: I could follow her, somewhere we’d not been before.
Actually, looking at it again, that big log did look kinda fun. With a deep breath, I shifted the wheels round and ploughed the pushchair into the long grass, to see what my little girl would show me.
The path of my own life is not clear to me right now. I wish I knew what my next steps should be, but I also begin to see how much of my own stress is caused by desperately trying to control events and situations that are not in my hands. Because, looking back, have I ever known what was coming, beyond the tentative step below my foot?
“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said. And maybe they intuitively know what we forget in our apparent maturity—that the way to Jesus is to head towards things of beauty, things that excite our curiosity, towards our questions and wonderings, and to walk always with a sense of wonder.
That morning, I was able—mercifully—to let go and enjoy my children. Kaya climbed all over that log, picked daisies, met some local dogs. And Oskar woke well before we were home, but as I carried him on my shoulder, I felt his innocent enjoyment of the fresh air and the warm sunshine. I could have missed that.
How many more blessings might be waiting for me if I can learn to take that same deep breath, let go of control, and be willing to step off the beaten path?
It’s the season I’m in, but most of my life lessons are being given by my children these days. This one I need to learn over and over, about unclenching those fists and seeing what life might have for me off the path.
This post originally appeared at She Loves Magazine.