It’s not that serious. This is my mantra lately as the worry and anxiety creep into my mind. You know, those middle of the night moments when you start thinking about the “to-do” list. Or worrying about being a good enough (fill in the blank). To avoid becoming consumed with these thoughts, I try to observe them and tell myself, “It’s not that serious”. Because most of it isn’t. It’s just my perception, the tunnel vision that takes over when I start overthinking. We can’t control life, but we can control our reactions.
So I start celebrating the little victories. “I worked out this morning!” “I made it to work on time (sort of)!” “My 4 year old brushed his teeth!”
In fact, I’ve been taking cues from my 4 year old lately. Children, especially our own, can be our greatest teachers. They are often a mirror of our own behavior. They watch our every move and will certainly repeat it. They also find our blind spots and point them out. When I am in a rush and taking life too seriously, he’ll ask me “Mom, why are you talking so fast (or loud)?” Or “Mom, why do you keep saying that?”, followed by, “Stop telling me, I already know”.
And I stop- take stock of what I am worried about and try to determine if indeed, it is worth it. Is it really about him, or is it about me? I then find myself wanting to mimic his ability to be in the moment, incapable of multi-tasking. By simplifying, the grip of anxiety starts to soften. It’s amazing how much smoother our commute to school can be when I let the last 20 minutes of trying to rush him out the door go. We stop worrying about the traffic, making up stories about why there are so many buses parked at the station (maybe they’re on a coffee break). He points out things I would have otherwise let slip by as I stare at the car bumper in front of me, like someone working on a roof, or the color of the clouds. We sing along to Sesame Street tunes. (I dare you not to smile when listening to these silly songs). He gives me “smooches” and a hug before pushing me out the door to his preschool. Then I smile, thinking about the moments we just shared instead of the “to-do” list as I head into a busy work day. (Another victory to celebrate!) After all, it’s not that serious. Life will still go on as it always does, bringing new challenges and opportunities to live in the moment. It’s up to us what to make of them.
So here it is, almost Valentine’s Day… and part of my “New Year’s Goals” was to publish a blog a month. Well life seemed to get a little in the way as the end of one year and the beginning of another tends to be extremely busy at home, at work, and in general. To save my sanity, I had to prioritize and with this, some of my hobbies took a back seat. But it doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, or written little snip-its to use later. So I was looking in my Notes section of my phone and found a lesson in love I had written down. A lesson given to me by my 3 year old. And well, as Valentine’s Day is almost here, I thought this would be a great way to refresh my blog, refresh my heart, and hopefully touch and refresh those around me. And I hope you enjoy this short piece and stay tuned for more…
Today my almost 3 year old gave me a lesson in love. He told me he loved me after I said the same to him. My heart was of course bursting, as we all want to hear those words especially at those moments when we may least expect it (he used to just smile really big when I told him I loved him). However in the same moment he added, “but not Daddy”. I looked over and saw Dad’s shoulders slump as he was busy cleaning up the dishes among so many of the things he does for our family. I know 3 year olds say things to see what reaction it may elicit, so we didn’t dig further at this moment. And I didn’t tell him he “should” love Dad. But apparently the lesson wasn’t over. As I laid him down to sleep, he said it again, “I love you, but not Daddy.” “Well I love you and Dad,” I replied. Then he added, “I’ll love him after I wake up from my nap.” Of course my mind started spinning as I was trying to navigate through this teachable moment. So I asked, “You can only Love one person at a time?” “Yes” he added. And I realized- I was the one who was getting schooled on big emotions that so often come from little words. I put him down and walked out of the room, processing the conversation. It hit me- to him, love is such a big (and complicated) emotion, he thought he could only offer it to one person at a time. Of course we know this is not true, but in his mind and heart, when he “loves” someone it is an action that can only be directed at one person. This gave me pause… a chance to reflect as I left his room. It reminded me, that we should do all things wholeheartedly in the moment. Especially Love.
Photo Cred: Jessie Lathroum @insidethepaperbox