Sometimes, when I feel like too many things are being expected of me, my stomach gets tied up in knots. I want to be able to cross everything off my list, make everyone happy, and have some down time. I have trouble knowing where to start when the day looks like a huge tangle of logistics and obstacles, and then I fear the presence of my own children, because each task is more difficult when they are in tow.
A couple years ago, I read something written by life coach Andrea Scher that impacted me. It was about the concept of surrender. She wrote, “The rain is just the rain”, which means that when you look out the window and see the rain, and feel fear, disappointment, and think, “Well now I can’t do x, y, or z,” to ask if it’s possible to reframe the rain.
It’s just water.
The consequence of experiencing the rain is getting wet.
I can live with that. I can get wet.
Surrendering to the rain means accepting its presence. Maybe tossing a towel in your bag, so that if you are really bothered by the water, you can wipe up some of it.
I’m not a generally neurotic person, but I do suffer anxiety about certain issues: namely sleep and time.
I get worked up about losing sleep, worried about a future exhaustion that may be waiting in the morning due to the sleep that’s being disturbed right now, whether by insomnia, or one of my kids waking me up. Can I surrender to this phase of life which includes being needed at night? Can I assume that I will be okay, that I’ll be distracted by business or laughter or coffee the next morning and the tiredness won’t kill me?
When a child comes to my bed at night, needing something, my instant reaction is to worry that the child and I are both going to suffer for having lost sleep the next day.
I have a little mantra I say to myself when this happens: “It’s okay, we’re safe at home,” which helps me reframe the annoyance and loosen up my resistance. Instead of hating the tired before it’s even arrived, I can accept it. I can see that it is small, that it will pass.
I also hate to be late. I am more clock-oriented than I would like to be, and can see that I have passed that on to my children. Julian often comes home from a birthday party or sleepover and reports what time they ate if it was different from what he expected. “We didn’t have dinner until 7.30!” he will exclaim. So much for going with the flow.
I used to get very anxious when the evening routine was not mapping out towards the exact bedtime for which I was aiming. Now my little trick is to consciously surrender a certain number of minutes. If I can see that we are not heading toward an 8 pm bedtime because teeth are being brushed at 7:57, I will just gift myself a package of 15 minutes. Instead of harping on every minute that passes after 8, resisting it and resenting it, I reset the goal, and remind myself, that like rain water, it’s only 15 minutes.
I don’t know why the phrase ball and chain has been used historically to describe the experience of having a wife to a man. It seems more analogous to having children that you have to cart around from errand to errand, who drag their feet and ask for snacks, need containers for bugs they have found and want to bring home to raise as part of your family, ever slowing you down.
I have to use my surrender tool on a busy day, when I am having trouble seeing my kids as fun-loving companions. I can do this; it’s just slower. It’s just an extra 15 minutes.