I was rushing my youngest child to her lacrosse game, but still had to stop to drop off my son at the skate park first. While driving, my oldest daughter had called and was hysterically telling me why I HAVE to turn around and pick her up NOW so she can get a book at the store she needs TONIGHT, and HOW could I have forgotten that?
As I pulled over to drop my son, he noticed I was smiling to myself. He looked at me like I had gone crazy. “Why are you smiling?” he said with amazement, “That is so messed up.” My daughter was still shrilling in my other ear about how I NEVER get things right, and I’m ALWAYS late, but I just looked at my son, smiled even wider and said, “Because everything will be okay.” Shaking his head, he mumbled, “Okay Mom. You’re nuts. Love you,” and got out of the car. As I watched him go, I thought, I’ll try to explain myself to him later. (Like, when he’s 20!)
I was smiling because – in my mind, everything really was okay. How is that possible, you ask? Well, before you think I’m nuts too, let me explain.
You see, everybody was getting their needs met (maybe not in the timeframe that they exactly wished for) but close enough. It was all going to be okay, meaning fine. Done. Accomplished. Yes, I had started to panic in the car a bit, but remembered to use a little trick I know. I applied some perspective to the situation by just asking myself; will these events matter at the end of the day/week/month/year? Was this little window of time going to be remembered as remarkable? Not in the least. So I was doing good enough, and everything was actually okay.
The Spanish painter Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” As a Mom, I take great comfort in that thought. It allows me to ease up on myself and my life, and appreciate it for what it is; sometimes messy, far from perfect, but always interesting.
As much as we are reminded to not over schedule our lives and allow for a little breathing room, sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. We need to cut ourselves some slack when things don’t go like clockwork. We also need to have tools available to help us manage ourselves effectively because those stressful moments are always going to be there. Our lives get so full of ‘must-dos’ and ‘wanna-Dos’ that all too often I have those times when I think, how the heck am I going to manage it all?
Well, there is a simple way to manage it. It doesn’t even require changing the family calendar.(Although maybe mine needs a little reworking) It just requires a little shift inside in your heart and head. It requires broadening your perspective (remember the question: will this matter in a day/week/month/year?)and knowing that everything will be okay.
Example: You’re late (as I usually am) and stuck in traffic (it’s LA after all) and the kids are waiting at school for you. What can you do at that moment? Does it hep the situation to stress and sweat about it, every moment of inching up the 405 freeway towards your exit? Of course it doesn’t. So this is the moment where you make the SHIFT. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Take another one while you’re there, you’ve got the time. Now think to yourself, everything will be okay. And mean it, when you say that to yourself, really feel comfort in those words, because it’s true. Here’s your proof, just apply the perspective question: at the end of the day/week/month/year, will this crisis matter? Be remembered at all? Chances are no, it won’t. The day will unfold, and it will be good enough, and EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY. Doesn’t that make you want to smile to yourself, too?
Julie Hale, MA, LMFT, RYT – is a psychotherapist in private practice in West Los Angeles, specializing in family issues such as divorce, single parenting, adolescents and parent/child relationships. She has 3 children and 6 pets, all living together okay in a perfectly imperfect home.
For more information, please visit her blog and website at www.halejulie.net