The Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks is back. In fact, it seems like the world around me was abuzz with this highly-anticipated latte last week. But I closed my ears and eyes to it. I just wasn’t ready. Pumpkin means fall in my book and on a week of 80-degree weather, I just couldn’t think past the summer. Where I live, these warm glorious months are fleeting, and since we are enjoying one of the best summers I’ve ever experienced this year, you can imagine how I’m kicking and screaming with every sign of its waning presence.
However, when we were at the pool the weekend before Labor Day, I knew it would be our last. The farmer’s markets are also beginning to show signs of Fall with the apples outnumbering the peaches. Today, I even saw winter squashes (WINTER! *shudder*). And when we traveled to Washington D.C. this past weekend, I also knew it was our final warm weather hurrah where we could traipse around the city in sleeveless shirts and sandals. These subtle acknowledgements in my head were my way of giving myself permission to let go. Slowly. Gently.
And today when I left the house, with the temperature in the low 70s (an average for the week), I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work and ordered my first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season. And it was delicious. With each warm sip of liquid gold, I was easing into Fall, and while I dread to think about what comes after, it reminded me of all the things I love about autumn: The warm colors, the chill in the air, the always chic jacket-scarf-boots ensemble, apple crisps, hearty and aromatic slow-cooked one-pot meals, hot beverage between my hands and plenty of snuggling under the blanket. Oh yes, I am now craving for my favorite season of the year. I just needed to be ready for it.
Speaking of ready, while I slowly embraced the idea of Fall, my daughter has apparently been ready for the big-girl bed long before I was. She had been requesting to sleep in the twin-sized daybed in her room but we weren’t sure since it seemed so big for her so we started with her naps there, and she did remarkably well. One day, a little over two weeks ago, she refused to get into her crib, demanding, “Big bed! Big bed!” and so we bit the bullet, installed the safety rail that same night, and she happily climbed into bed with her blankie and friends. And that was the end of the crib.
Well, except for the one time where at naptime, she climbed out of bed and came to find me. All I had to do was threaten her with, one more time and you’re going back into the crib, and that was all it took for her to stay in bed. Actually, she has not once climbed out of it since. When she wakes from sleep, she sings or talks to herself, sometimes up to half an hour, until one of us goes into her room. But she never leaves her bed.
What’s even more amazing about this switch to the big girl bed is that now when we travel, we needn’t worry about lugging a pack n’ play around for her sake. We went to our DC trip with just carry-on luggage - a miraculous feat with a young one, if you ask me - and at the hotel suite, she slept on the foldout couch in the living room without a fuss. Even without the threat of the crib anywhere near, she never got out of her bed. I guess when she was ready for a big-girl bed, she was ready.
I realize now that I’m the one who has been reluctant in ushering her from one stage to the next. She consistently amazes with how well she adapts to change and new environments, but I think it’s because she’s often ready long before I ever am. Just like the time when we completely did away with her bottles. Or when I had to wean her. I braced myself for a struggle each time, except I was met with little to no resistance. She probably craves novelty. The idea of being a big girl is exciting too. But for me, it’s that very idea that’s holding me back. Big girl? Big bed? Big shoes? Surely not my little one?
I need to learn to let go. Gracefully. To be a good parent, I need to recognize her readiness for change, hold her hand to help move her forward and then watch her beam at me from her destination with pride.
Not just proud of herself for making it there. But of her mommy, who was brave enough and strong enough to guide her there in the first place. Just like mine was.
And now it’s my turn.
How do you deal with change? Slow to adapt? Eager to embrace? How do you know when it’s time to let go?