There is a recurring conversation (lecture?) that we have around here. Specifically, there is a talk that Sean has with me that goes a little something like, “You care too much. The worrying you do and the constant moving of your finish line are unhealthy. You never let yourself be done.”
Let that sink in, because there may be a good chance that you do it too. The kids have a finite list of things to do. Sometimes a to-do might get added, but generally there is a, “Great job, thank you! You can have free time now,” resolution for them. I don’t afford that same possibility of finishing for myself. There is almost always a low muttering of, “I should do…” or “I never did…” as I turn a critical eye toward myself in the bathroom mirror at night.
The other day as I tried to ferry the girls to karate, the clock just wouldn’t cooperate. It’s always tight as I race from work around 3 to meet Briar and then get the little girls off the bus 40 minutes later—homework, emptying lunch boxes, reviewing papers that came home, permission slips, reading and flash cards. Usually there are emails I get that demand immediate answers (or that make me feel that way).
This particular day, misplaced shoes took a few minutes to find, finishing sautéing the onions for the soup took 2 minutes, the dog needed to go out to pee, but it was raining so he wouldn’t go and that took another 5 minutes, before I knew it we’d blown past the 4:45 mark, which is the point after which we will surely be late to class.
I loathe being late for it because one of the things I love most about the karate experience for the girls is the element of self-discipline and self-respect, which leads to a very clear sense of pride and accomplishment. Getting there late seems to fly in the face of that control. The thing is, me falling a part over it and driving with resentment at all the other drivers, the onions that I was sautéing, and the rain resistant hound is pointless.
As I felt the heat start to fester in my chest and as the details of what ought to get done before we left swirled, I took a breath. I could explode about it, fall apart and let tears and despair envelope me. We were going to be late. No amount of hurrying would change that. Dinner was halfway there, which meant when we got home, it would only take a few minutes. Homework was done. The girls were happy.
I took a deep breath, climbed into the car, and let out a very emphatic, “Whatever.”
I highly recommend invoking the whatever clause from time-to-time. Do you have a trick to letting go of stress or overly critical thoughts? Lay’em on me!