I dislike the car buying process. I mean, I REALLY dislike it. Everything from having to research, shop, price, haggle, take out a loan to giving up a “companion” I’ve spent many intimate years with…I just really dislike the process.
But when my Trailblazer pooped out on me in my driveway, I realized I was going to have to – sigh — start the process. Because we knew this day wouldn’t be far off, my husband and I had taken a few baby steps toward choosing a new car. Now, however, it was time to go all in.
In the few times I’ve had to buy a car in the past, I went through the process unprepared. This time, though, I did something different: I prayed. I prayed from start to finish. I prayed God would lead me to the car that would help me best serve Him and serve others. I prayed He’d open the right doors and close the wrong ones, and boy was He faithful to close the wrong ones! And once I finally decided on which car we’d buy for our family, I had peace. Tremendous peace. Peace that passes all understanding.
As I drove my blue Trailblazer to make the trade in, I became overwhelmed with emotions: sadness, joy, anger, disgust, fear and then back to joy. I ugly cried. While I was running through my range of every emotion, my brother called. When he asked if I were crying, all I could say was, “Yup. I’ve made a lot of good memories with this car.” He said, “You’re weird,” to which I said, “I know. I know I’m quirky, but I’m just gonna feel it all!” I embraced my weird and my quirkiness…and I grieved.
It was during this car ride I understood the importance of grieving this experience and the reason I have to share it with you. I realized, yes, I was going to miss having a third row and spacious trunk, but what I was grieving most was the season of life the Trailblazer had represented. The road to the dealership became a drive down memory land as I began to remember all of the sweet and beautiful moments I’d weathered in that car.
As the memories flooded my heart, I realized how grateful I was for each seemingly insignificant event I was blessed to experience in that blue Trailblazer:
- Loading up four or more children in car seats to journey on an adventure to the park, pool or errand.
- The cheerios, snacks and lunches I would vacuum up
- The times that I would pull over on the side of the road and wait patiently until everyone had inside voices
- Hearing the sweet and repetitive sounds of “Mommy” or “Ms. Irene”
- Creating entertainment by identifying all emergency vehicles, schools, stores, large trucks — especially excavators
- Watching the kids grow and meet new milestones when they could climb into their seat and would help me with their seat belts
- Looking back to see them reading their book or playing with their toy of choice they would bring
- All the singing and dance parties during our drives.
- The love and appreciation for all my singing with no judgment.
- When the kiddos would say, “Ms. Irene! This is your song!”
- Playing countless games of “I Spy”
But the one feature I was grieving the most on that drive was the voice recording option. I remembered the kids recording songs and silly messages while we waited for my older son to get off the bus after school. As I replayed some of those sweet messages, I cried and I sobbed.
I also laughed and smiled because everything happened just the way it was supposed to. The Trailblazer had served my family and me well during that season of life. Each trip we had taken in that car held a special lesson for me – a lesson I was to learn only during this time of letting go and somewhat reluctantly embracing the new. How I longed for those chubby cheeks and toddler kicks, the laughter, the tantrums and the preschool wisdom.
As I got closer to the dealership, though, I noticed my tears and grief began to turn into peace and gratitude. I also noticed I gave myself permission to feel and to remember each moment, whereas before I would have talked myself into denying my emotions, beat myself up for crying over “a car,” and skipped right over this essential step in the grieving process. To cry and feel all the emotions I was going through helped me unpack the suitcase of the past so I could move forward lighter, wiser, freer and ready to fully experience whatever this new car/season had waiting for my family and me!
But what does any of this have to do with sleep?
Plenty! Grief is intensely personal and is rarely ever talked about because it can be uncomfortable and even painful. Feelings are often “swept under the rug,” burying healing with it. However, the longer the pile of unresolved emotions stays under the rug, the bigger the pile will get until eventually it becomes a health hazard. At some point the emotions will become so toxic they’ll erupt.
That’s why it’s so important to grieve whatever situation you’re facing. Finding a healthy way to deal with feelings and emotions creates better health; better health leads to better sleep; and better sleep equals being able to continue treating others with love and respect. Completing the grieving process gives your soul peace, rest and joy.
It’s natural as your babies grow into toddlers to grieve the times you spent rocking and snuggling them to sleep or the all-night nursing marathons. Or to feel loss when your toddler begins pre-school, your pre-schooler grows into a high schooler, and your high schooler turns old enough to get married. But as you learn to embrace these inevitable changes, you’ll be able to be more present now with your child and to enjoy each special moment (well…most of them) he has to offer you. You’ll also be able to, later on down the road, reflect on those times with warmth and love and not an ounce of regret.
Learning to grieve has made for a beautiful journey where I can just be me, slow down, embrace the perfectly imperfect mom that I am…and even enjoy the process.
Are you ready to enjoy the process with me?!