Controlling the uncontrollable

I’m beginning to feel that my life as the mother of a three year old is going to be good preparation for my new life as a “trailing spouse.”

Before C, at least before my adventures in pregnancy, I prided myself on my control of most situations.  I could plan for almost every eventuality, every possible outcome – whether of a case, a relationship, or a day.  I could make lists, make plans, direct the other attorneys and staff I worked with, and generally maintain physical, emotional and organizational control over my work and my life.

Then came pregnancy and, later, C.  And my control disappeared along with my waistline.  I’d like to think the waistline is generally back, but somehow the control seems to have been permanently displaced.

This morning C refused to get out of bed until I agreed that she could wear a tutu and crocs to have breakfast.


I tried to reason with her.

“We need to get dressed in clothes we can wear to school,” I cajoled.


“You won’t be able to play in the playground if you wear this,” I told her.

“I don’t want to play in the playground,” was her answer.

I’m sure a better Mummy than me could have sweetly convinced her to put on her (appropriate for school) clothes, eat her breakfast, wear her socks, and leave the house without a doll, three princesses, a light up ball, her umbrella and a purse, but not me.  Because I cannot “control” or “manage” or “organize” her; she is three.

And it turns out, while I can do a lot of planning, I cannot control much about what my life will look like in the next few months – and maybe even for the foreseeable future.


It seems crazy to me that I have no idea where I might be living next year. What happened to the “me” that needed to know what was happening, where I’d be, and what I’d be doing every day? I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and to find myself totally freaking out, but so far that has not happened.

I have started to lose a bit of emotional control – it started in earnest tonight.  I went to workout and when I arrived home some of our best friends in Charlotte were just leaving our house, a leather chair we put on our “sell/give” list in the back of their car.  C and their son, W, were kicking a soccer ball back and forth, their baby E was playing on C’s little push car.  It was such a scene of contentment and friendship. My stomach gave a little twist as I got out of my car and walked toward them all, thinking how much I wanted to preserve the little scene, but knowing I couldn’t.

W & C - Friends forever...

W & C – Friends from the beginning…

Then, later, as I was putting C to bed she went to her basket of stuffed animals and said “Where is my monkey with the tail on it? And the daddy monkey?”  The twist intensified. I donated those monkeys last weekend.  I know she doesn’t need three stuffed monkeys (I kept Curious George), but her question just left an ache in my chest thinking of those lost monkeys and how much she loved making them a “Mommy” monkey, a “Daddy” monkey and a Baby George monkey.

And finally, as she was falling asleep, giving me a hug and playing with my hair, she said “I didn’t want W to take my big chair.”

“But W will look after the chair and we can come back and visit it, won’t that be fun?”

“Is W coming to Washington, Mummy?”

“No, sweetie,” I told her.  “W is staying here in Charlotte to look after our chair.  But we’ll visit him, and maybe he can visit us.”

She said “Ok” but I know she doesn’t understand.

I understand though.  I know that how often we might, or might not, visit is out of our control and there is nothing I can do about that.

OMS! This is getting real

C is three.  The age of “I do it myself.” The age of repetition. The age of mimicry.  And she particularly enjoys mimicking me.

“Wow Mommy, that is AWESOME,” she says, as I finish cleaning up the front porch. “Great job!”

“Um, thanks,” I say. Hello Mini-me…

C = goofball

But it is even better for C if what I’m saying is loud and said in agitation. Bonus points for waving hand gestures and doing all this while driving.

So a couple of weeks ago we are driving along and she drops her raisin snack on the floor. “OMG!” she yells (though she says it all).

“Um, sweetie,” I start. “It’s not nice to say that. You need to say ‘Oh my Stars.'”

“But you say it?”

“Uh, yup, but I shouldn’t,” I agree. “I’ll try to be a good girl and not say it anymore, but I need you to try your hardest too, ok?”

“Ok,” she happily agrees.

So we are now living in the land of “Oh My Stars!”  C reminds me (probably more often than she should have to) that “we don’t say that we say ‘Oh my Stars,’ right Mommy?” And I’m trying. Really.

Yesterday was a big “OMS!” moment for us.  We put our beloved house on the rental market on July 1.  This is the house I bought in 2000 when it had 2 bedrooms and 1 bath and was a tiny little 950 square feet. I chronicled the changes from this:

little house

To the 4 bed/4 bath, 2850 square feet this:



So as we sidled into July 9 without so much as a peep of interest we were a little worried, but not  too worried.  We still have lots of time, right? Plus it means our house is still our house.  At least this is what I keep telling myself.

Then I got a call from the management company that they had a couple who were interested in the house, but our manager was out of pocket, so would I mind coming by to let them in.  No problem.  I go over, let them in and half an hour later the realtor comes out on the back porch (where I am happily watching Property Brothers…Drew and Jonathan…such a lovely interlude in my day…) and says, “They want it. They wrote me a check for the deposit and the first month’s rent.”


“Say WHAT?”

Wait a minute. This is getting really real. We’ve got somewhere to live in DC starting on Aug. 23. Our house is rented starting Aug. 22. AND I’ve announced this on Facebook. This is REALLY happening. And it is such an incredible mix of joy and sadness.

I’ve been through a lot of hellos and goodbyes in my life – moving from London to Toronto to Louisiana to North Carolina – and our lives going forward will be all about hellos and goodbyes but this one is particularly difficult.  We have roots here. Roots that are painful to pull up; painful to sever.  We’re doing our best to temper the pain: not selling, just renting our house; not quitting, but staying with my firm and continuing to work remotely while we are in D.C.  Reaching out and pulling our friends close for a few last weeks while we call Charlotte our home.

But the day draws ever closer where Charlotte will recede in our rear view mirror and become a place on a map….a place with memories to fill a lot of pages, with friends who we hope we will always keep, and a place in our hearts that will always beat with love, and a little bit of longing.