One night after having my typical end-of-day meltdown/rant to my husband in bed, I (from what I recall) announced that if we were going to have more children we ought to do it now because everything is such a mess that why not just add to it all and blah blah blah blah blah. Knowing me well enough to know that I never mean anything I say after 8 o’clock, my husband kindly patted me on the head and said OK. Then he asked me why I felt so unfullfilled that day.
“Because, Dave, I talked to a baby all day who didn’t talk back unless it was screaming or shrieking or saying, ‘NYEH’. I barely got anything done around the house except for cleaning up behind his path of destruction, I didn’t shower until 3:30pm, and I ate 3 rice cakes and an apple in 12 hours. I had about 3 million things to get done and errands to run and I didn’t remember any of them.” (Aside: When am I going to remember that if I don’t write things down I’ll forget them?)
Yeah, he understood, but he asked me what it would take to make my days better. Better? My life is great! This is just what moms do. We’re kinda miserable and exhausted at the end of the day until the kids start going to Kindergarden and then get totally depressed when we have nothing to do for 6 hours a day. SEE?? I AM NORMAL!!!!!
This is when my husband suggested we make a subtle change in my day:
“Why don’t we make it a rule that you have to take a shower before you start your day from now on?”
“I have to have my coffee. I’m not a morning person. I don’t like getting up and rushing around.”
“Ok,” he continued, “What if you get your coffee and take it into the shower and take a few minutes to wake up in there while I give Abe some milk and a banana in bed?”
“I dunno. Maybe that would help. But I would have to dry my hair and put on makeup, too.”
“Cool. If we can keep that to a half an hour, I’ll still have time to get ready. Wanna try that?”
“Fine,” I huffed.
Then he said something so smart. “Nothing’s really wrong. You just have to fully commit to where you are at this point in your life.” He’s smart, right?
So I did. I got up every morning last week and took a shower. Just a little quiet time in one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people: coffee. I got out, dried my hair and slapped the bare essentials on my face. In doing so, I was inspired to wear actual clothes. You know, clothing designed by someone who went to school to make clothes without band logos or the date of a 5k printed on the sleeve. Clothes I bought in a clothing store, not that I caught in the bleachers at half-time.
It worked so well that I added my own subtle change. I started keeping a to do list on a dry erase board in the kitchen. Every night before bed I brain-dumped onto the dry-erase all the stuff I wanted to accomplish the next day. I checked things off as I went and most days I actually got everything on the list DONE! Despite Abe’s tantrums or room-exploding techniques, I was productive. I started committing to where I am right now and suddenly the days got much more smooth.
So here’s my challenge: Find one small thing you can change in your day to make it a little bit better, to make it easier to commit to where you are in your life. You don’t have to be a mom to do this. It could be taking an extra 5 minutes to pack your lunch in the morning, or maybe spending the first 5 minutes after you get home quietly focusing on something peaceful like your dogs or your aching feet or maybe even meditating. Maybe it’s just getting a hug from your partner first thing in the morning. Commit to this place you are in life before you complain about it and you might actually find there’s not much to complain about. After all, it’s hard to enjoy a four-star hotel with one foot out the door.