Tonight I was getting ready to sit down on the couch for the night. It was one of those times where I was going to ignore the dishes in the sink, the toys on the living room floor, and the crumbs still on the dining room table. It had been a short night and a long day. On the way to the couch, I was flooded with negativity. I had kicked ice cubes as I walked through the kitchen, and I stepped over some books that were about one foot away from their shelf. These little negative thoughts started out small and just multiplied. The thought toward the ice cube of “Ugh, that was cold.”, turned into “Why didn’t anyone put that it in the sink?” turned into “Why am I the one who has to pick up everything?”
I sat down and realized how long my to-do list still was. Ugh. Things to do that I didn’t have to do tonight, but it became overwhelming enough that I made a list to keep it all straight. It wouldn’t have been too much for me, had I not had that seed of negativity already planted. The thought of my to-do list rolled into thinking that my job is never done. Why can’t I sit down in a clean house with nothing to do? Why can’t I ever just relax without someone needing something from me?
I couldn’t pinpoint one area of my life that was overwhelming. It was unanswered texts, an overflowing inbox, it was responsibilities and promises made to other people, it was the mess I was sitting in, it was the guilt that Dave was putting the girls to bed while I just sat. It was almost worse to not be able to pinpoint it. I couldn’t direct my feelings toward one thing that I needed to back out of.
I’m wrapped up in my own criticisms and Dave is downstairs picking up, setting the robotic vacuum to start, and taking out the litter box. Meanwhile, the girls are alternating yelling for their Daddy. Just even hearing them yell from bed makes my blood pressure rise. “Please go to sleep. I have a billion things to do.” I think.
Why are we wired this way? Do we do it to ourselves? Or am I the only one who thinks this way?
Most importantly, how do we stop this cycle of negativity?
Take a breath. Just stop for one minute. Sometimes that is all it takes to get a moment of clarity.
Pick it up. If that book on the floor is bothering you so much, pick it up instead of stewing about it. You’re only adding to your resentment and giving it more power over you.
Gratitude. This is the most important one. Those dishes that need to be done mean you have food in your bellies. Dirty clothes in the laundry mean you had clothes on your backs. Those toys in the hallway mean your kids are healthy and playing hard. Those fingerprints on the window mean they couldn’t contain their excitement that their grandparents were coming over to play. That dirt on the floor means the kids brought it in from playing outside. Those kids yelling to you from bed after you’re stressed and trying to check out for the night, means you are needed. Being tired means the baby in your tummy is rolling around and keeping you up, or you were able to have that caffeinated evening coffee with friends, or that your kids still need you – even into the night, or that your husband is sleeping so well he is snoring.
When I kicked those ice cubes earlier, all that means is that Dave got Adelynn a cup of ice water before bed and getting her the drink was more important than stopping to pick up ice. The books left out mean he read to them and put the girls down instead of putting the books away. Your husband laying down with your coughing child who won’t sleep doesn’t automatically mean it will be a habit for all eternity, it actually means she has a dad who makes time for her, no matter what time of day she needs him. Sometimes when you are tired of being touched because you have been climbed on, ridden like a horsey, crawled over and carrying kids all day, by evening, the husband’s hand on your leg, or the cat who wants a lap to sit on, just seem like too much. But really, it’s because they love you too.
Breathe out the negativity, take a minute to fix your problems, and say a prayer of thanks. You couldn’t feel this way if there weren’t people who relied so heavily on you and loved you so much.
I believe in you, Momma! If I can overcome it, you can too.