I usually have a weird ability to stay really calm in public situations when my kids are losing their minds. In my head I just tell myself, “Self … If your child crying in the middle of the Target aisle is the worst thing that happens to you today – we have a lot to be thankful for.”
I’ve been blessed with the gift of being able to find perspective in a lot of things. I believe that there is a higher power using “events” in life to show us things… and sometimes perspective is our only way of seeing that message because it’s not always blasted in neon lights … and I think it’s pretty incredible, fun and challenging to figure out what that message is. This view on life has helped me get through so many moments in my life (big and small) and saved me from wallowing in a lot of unnecessary sadness. But I’ve also realized that sometimes I force myself to have perspective ALL of the time. Literally, about everything. I do it mainly because I don’t think it’s healthy to live a life where you let every. single. thing. bring you down… or sometimes because I think about what someone with problems that are so much bigger than mine would have to say about my negativity.
But you know what? Sometimes this “always having perspective” thing completely diminishes the fact that some sort of struggle is going on … and what happens is those feelings don’t get a chance to breathe, run their course, and be done. And what happens, instead, is a bundle of emotions crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a bottle holding their breath … and eventually, they all exhale at once. And it all shatters.
Well… enter “today.”
I was on a mission today to do three things: 1.) get my kids out of the house to do something fun for them 2.) make it to the post office and 3.) go to Marshalls to get a couple of Christmas gifts. Well, we made it to the library… and my daughter screamed at the top of her lungs twice (one time saying that she didn’t like me right in front of the librarian. Awesome.) and then my son proceeded to pee out of his diaper (Sweet). So we excused ourselves … and made our way to the post office. There, my daughter weaved herself in and out of the line of customers laughing hysterically at me as I tried to get her to listen (laying down on the floor at one point) … all while I tried to locate a box that would ship the item I needed to send with a 20lb child in a carseat dangling on my arm. After a 15-minute debacle, my item shipped out… and so did we. We made it to Marshalls (Lord only knows why I attempted to continue on), and my daughter ran away from me the entire time, hid inside a clothes rack long enough for me to lose my mind that she was really gone – and then proceeded to scream at the top of her lungs with another endearing “I don’t like you” while I was checking out along with about 15 other people (loud enough just in case the librarian didn’t hear her the first time). I just felt mortified. And like a complete failure as a Mom, if we’re being honest. Add in the fact that I came into today already feeling a little unbalanced and well…
Perspective? I ran perspective over with my Marshalls cart about 14 times before I left.
Situations like today are usually the ones that I take in stride and say “Well, that went well” and laugh about it with my friend Pam later. In my head I’d say something like “These kids are making me nuts today, but I am blessed to even have kids” or “Well, I didn’t get everything I needed to today, but at least I have people that I love to shop for.” But that full-of-perspective girl… she was not present today. I was done with perspective. I was just mad. And exhausted. And feeling sorry for myself. Because the reality was, I just had a stack of these days already shoved inside of my perspective bottle, and there was just no more room inside.
And I…Just… BAWLED the whole way home. Like a feel-bad-for-myself baby. We’re talking… the ugly stuff. That “I hope the dude next to me at the red light doesn’t see me” cry.
But you know what? I needed that cry. I needed that time to just completely unravel and let the emotions run their course.
Once I got home, somehow I got four tired little eyes to take a nap and everything was quiet. And I just sat on my couch for a second to chill out. And when I did… you know who crept in? Ole Perspective.
In my “feel bad for myself” spree… what I didn’t let myself see was an incredible amount of kindness going on around me. The real part of this story that I left out until now…
... Like the woman who was in front of me in line at the post office who kept suggesting boxes I could send my item in, and on her way out came over and made sure I had gotten it figured out.
... Or the two post office clerks, one who gave my daughter a candy cane to drop her focus from visciously rocking my son’s carseat back and forth and making him upset… and the other who just gave me that look of, “I’m not judging you. I’ve been there. It’s ok.”
… Or the man who parked beside me outside of Marshalls who saw that my daughter was in complete defiance mode and was trying to run into the street while I was getting my son out of his carseat… and just gave me a nod to let me know that he was there guarding the back of my car so that she didn’t run out.
… Or the woman who was at the register next to me at Marshalls… whose eardrums are probably partially ruptured after my daughter screamed at me… told me about how its sometimes hard for her to take even her school-aged kids to the store, in this “Hey you’re not alone” kind of way. I know she was going out of her way to try and make me feel better instead of just staring at me and watching the “show” unfold.
… Or the woman who was waiting to get a cart while I was on my way out… who insisted on helping me carry my bags to my car as my daughter did the “dead legs” as I tried to hold her hand
So while the fact that six people felt that I needed some sort of help shows you was a hot-mess today’s scene was … it also showed me this:
The universe works in a really weird way to show us things. And when we don’t let “perspective” in – all we see is the surface of it, and we miss the message underneath. Like today… when I shut the door on perspective… all I heard were the voices that telling me that I was doing something wrong as a parent because I can’t control my child. And I missed it showing me the REAL message of today… which is the beauty that CAN be the human race when it chooses to step outside of themselves and be there for another person when they could have gotten away with not doing or saying anything. And what’s kind of crazy too… is that my chaos today was also a way to give those six people an opportunity to give of themselves … and I hope that they lay in bed tonight and feel all of the goodness that they should for choosing kindness today.
Bottom line, guys, is this….
There’s perspective in every situation. It may be hidden so deep that you think you can’t find it, but I will always challenge myself (and YOU!) with the task of trying to find it even when it seems like it’s not there. And although it’s ok to “let go” of perspective every once in a while and allow ourselves to “feel” our hurt, sadness, exhaustion, etc – we will benefit more from trying to find the reason behind it all. Because today’s toddler meltdown in the grand scheme of things? It really means nothing. I mean think about it – it’s over. It’s done. Everyone is still breathing. Healthy. And sleeping in a warm bed. But what I received from those six people today (and what I hoped they received in return)? Now that… THAT will stay with me (and hopefully them) for a much longer time.
So while it’s not always easy in the every day stresses of life to believe that there’s a purpose and a goodness behind it – isn’t it worth it to at least try to find it? #perspective
December 10, 2014 at 10:45 PM
Beautifully written… especially since I have been there sooo many times myself. I’m totally like you… having children has made me look for a better perspective in every bad situation. And then there are times that you just need to cry. And it’s totally OK. =)
You are awesome, Brea!!
December 10, 2014 at 10:58 PM
This is the most perfect Christmas time perspective ever. Life isn’t perfect, but if you take a step back… it’s pretty damn awesome. Right?
December 12, 2014 at 12:24 AM
Brea…I truly loved this piece…your talent for writing is truly a gift. I couldn’t
agree with you more…in the grand scheme of things..everything you put into perspective
leaves more time for the things that truly matter in life…Wishing you and your family a beautiful
Christmas and an awesome 2015!
December 12, 2014 at 7:33 AM
I can appreciate ALL of this! Thank you for sharing Brea!