As I put my daughter to bed the night before, thoughts of what still needed to be done washed over me. I contemplated a trip to Boston Market, factoring in time to hide the evidence of marked containers. My husband naturally calmed my nerves indicating it would "all get done, it always does." He is always right. It does always get done. But that was typically before we had a 15 month old who tends to cling to my leg whenever I am home. I couldn't imagine how I was supposed to get the turkey in the oven, set the table, and help start the sides before 2pm the next day. I pictured a sad image of me in a boat with all the water of responsibility seeping in. Am I going to make it to shore at a slow pace, wet and haggered looking, or am I going to do the smart, sane thing and try to bail some of this water out?
The solution seemed like a rational one on any other day but Thanksgiving. I pride myself on having a neat home and hosting a nice holiday dinner like my mother would. But as the time somehow became 11pm and I knew Boston Market doesn't make a turkey as good as mine, I realized I'm not my mother. I'm a new mother. A mother who really could've used a few extras minutes in bed this morning. A mother who temporarily has a kitchen and nursery separated by a door and can only do so much when there is a nap taking place. A mother who is content letting all of the spotty glasses stay on the table and just cursing my dishwasher to everyone. A mother who is just going to have to come to terms with doing less and it still being her best.
Thanksgiving day I was pleased the bird cooked perfectly and despite the smoke detectors going off and scaring my daughter, there were no problems with the menu. I hadn't had the table set the night before or the dessert dishes and plates on the credenza, yet it all came together by the time everyone arrived. Everything seemed surprisingly fine though I sat at the table and sensed a difference. It wasn't the wrinkled tablecloth, the semi-clean apartment, or our lack of adequate appetizers. It was my daughter.
It was her dancing and clapping that got my 91 year old grandmother off her feet and joining in. It was her playing peek a boo with my brother-in-law and watching them chase each other in my hallway. It was her cuddling with my father watching TV to take a bottle break. It was her that somehow made everyone a happier versions of themselves and everything else fade into the background.
Since the day she was born I find I'm shedding skins of my former self. Layers of different needs that are no longer necessary, like the need to have everything perfect for when company comes over and all my laundry done on a Sunday night. I shed the last layer of the day as my daughter sat on my lap ready for dessert. She didn't eat a thing at the dinner table and though I was concerned, I gave her a spoon and we shared a piece of ice cream cake. She fed me every few bites and I was thankful. Thankful for her soft hair against my chin, her determination to eat by herself, and her kind nature of always wanting to share.
As I let the chocolate drip down her chin and saw the smiling faces of my family, I realized letting go isn't just about loss. Its about making room in your life for things to gain. Moments you can miss if you get too caught up in things that aren't important. Moments that can turn into memories of which to be thankful.
That night I put the last Tupperware away in the fridge and joined my husband on the couch. We were bleary eyed with full bellies, feeling a sense of accomplishment. We did it. We had hosted a holiday with a toddler. We watched the end of some football game and I closed my eyes, thankful for him, our home, and our daughter. I nuzzled into his chest and drifted off to sleep knowing the mess in the kitchen would just have to wait until tomorrow.