Permission Slips

I’ve forged quite a few permission slips in my time. For the record, it wasn’t that my parents wouldn’t have, it was mainly my procrastination or forgetfulness in getting them to sign it. Thus began my last-minute-we’re-about-to-get-on-the-bus forgery. It really bugs me that Harry Potter couldn’t magically forge a permission slip to go to Hogsmeade that one time. I mean, seriously? What is the point of magic then? I feel like he missed out on some adolescent rite of passage (and a trip to Hogsmeade, poor kid). I would’ve broken that wand across my knee and been like, I’m out.
As adults, we think we don’t need permission slips. 

Oh, but we do. 
I got my first adult permission slips* when I became a mom. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was home alone all day, far from my family in a tiny Brooklyn apartment with this tiny alien-to-me creature. I struggled with getting my infant to nap without being attached to me. It was severely stressful, heightened by the fact neither of us were sleeping well. My first adult permission came when a veteran mom said to me, “Let her cry for a few minutes. She is old enough to know you love her. You’re a good Mom. She is getting all her needs met. Give her a kiss, set a timer, and see how it goes.” 
Yes, it’s basically the controversial “cry it out” method. It was against everything I had read pre-baby. But this wasn’t me buying into a method, it was a simple solution to a simple problem that I allowed to get bigger than me. What would the neighbors think if I let my kid cry for 5 minutes? Will she have attachment or abandonment issues for the rest of her life, and send me her therapy bills in her 20s? Will she explode? Will I explode if something doesn’t change?
The exact moment change happens, is in the desperation, when the mere thought of your situation staying the same is supremely more horrendous than any alternative you can imagine. 
My second kid-related permission slip happened on my first visit to my Brooklyn pediatrician, where he told me to enjoy a glass of wine in the evenings once or twice a week. 

Wait, what? 

Not only had my religious upbringing deemed alcohol taboo, but every paranoid thing I’ve read about a breastfeeding mom having a drink had my red flags up and flappin’. But, like he said, “New moms are anxious. A relaxed mom is a happy mom, and a happy and relaxed mom means a happy and relaxed baby.” Holla! Where do I sign? I’d frame that permission slip like a first paycheck if I could. 

I needed permission. I was too fearful of doing something wrong or messing something up. I needed someone to be willing to take the heat if something went wrong, like trusted friends and professionals. People willing to take the blame. Fearful thoughts get trapped in the spin cycle of: “I’m not supposed to do ____ . I can’t do ______. I don’t even think I’m allowed to ____.” “I couldn’t ___.” Or, “What will people think if I _____.” 
Sometimes to overcome your fears, you need a permission slip to try something different. 
I may not be a trusted friend or professional of yours, but as a fellow human being who genuinely wants you to have a great life, I give you permission to:
  • Fail
  • Fall in love
  • Question everything
  • Wear white in the winter
  • Try a new hobby
  • Say “no” to your kid even if he cries
  • Go back to school 
  • Cry
  • Be happy
  • Skip instead of walk 
  • Say how you actually feel
  • Wear the same thing everyday
  • Eat cake for breakfast
  • (See me after class if your desire didn’t make the list)
Go for it. Get your permission slip signed. (Or forge it.)

*You might be relieved to know, both authorized activities worked. I can confidently say that me and my kids are healthy, happy, and doing just fine. And we sleep like champs.

(Day 3: 671 words down. 13,389 to go.)

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