“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone… The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” ~Lin Yutang, Chinese writer and educator
I receive a daily parenting message that suggested that there are two components to every problem: the actuality and then our perception of the actuality. We “can be accepting and still desire change. And change happens “easily” when we’re at peace with WHAT IS.” In other words, the internal struggle and emotion of last week could have been a lot easier for me if I would have gone easy on myself, stopped judging myself, and let go of certain expectations of myself and of my daughter.
First there’s the reality of our day-to-day, then there’s the overlapping internal dialogue that there’s something wrong with it. Yesterday morning, as I was getting a chance to rest from the stresses of this past week with my daughter, I read this e-mail (which ironically I received on Thursday, though I didn’t read it then) and it dawned on me that perhaps I’m the problem, not her or the situation. I mean, maybe there’s actually no problem at all!
“What? I read about your day last week. It was pretty awful!” Yes, it was, but what if it’s really my perception that it was awful instead of the actual events of the day? In thinking about it more and more, I can see that I was sleep-deprived, which is a huge red flag right there. Other than that, there was absolutely nothing different about our Wednesday and Thursday from any other weekday.
My expectation of how the days should have gone was far different from the actuality, and so of course I kept running into brick walls every which way I turned. My daughter doesn’t judge a sink full of dirty cups and plates as any sort of problem. She does not care if my bed is made. She is fine with a cluttered house. Get three hours sleep? Let’s be whiney and tired. Why not??? She sees the world just as it is and accepts it just as it is. She is not judging it at all.
So why am I? I’m full of “shoulds” about the upkeep of our house and the structure of our days. But what if I just accepted it all as it is and stopped labeling it or expecting it to be different? This, within reason, is part of “letting myself off the hook,” right?
And then another realization… I seem to be constantly judging the events of my day and telling myself how beneath me it all is. “You are mediating between two toddlers screaming “mine” at the top of their lungs… surely you didn’t go to graduate school to do that!” “You’re a smart person with lots of ability… why are you spending your days ferrying between playgroup and preschool and music class and the park and the grocery store and …”
Well no wonder I am unhappy lately. Bored too. But I wonder if I really am unhappy and bored or if I’m trying to talk myself into it. My internal dialogue lately has been pretty negative. I think at heart I enjoy slowing down, seeing the world through a child’s eyes, teaching someone things for the very first time. I think I’d be happier if I told “Judgey McJudgerson” to take a hike and simply relaxed into this new routine. I think I am creating this pressure myself. (Well, of course I am… nobody is telling me that any of the items on my to do list must get done.) I am comparing myself to my friends who choose to spend their days in an office… you know, with other adults… sitting by themselves… going to the restroom in peace… earning money… getting things done. And I’m also comparing myself to some ideal version of myself who manages to read a book a week, see her friends, contribute to the world around her, have a homemade dinner on the table every night, hear about her spouse’s day every night, call her family often, pursue hobbies, etc.)
Not very long ago, I considered myself fortunate to be able to stay home with my daughter and witness each new development. I’d like to get back to that perspective. I also had simple expectations of each day and I could end it with feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment (and the usual exhaustion).
Accepting what is. It’s just a small tweak in perspective, but it could change everything. What do you think?