“Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer…” (Richard III, Shakespeare)
I love that phrase (less so the rest of the poem.) I realized today that I was living in my own winter of discontent, and worse, that I had caused it myself.
A lot of people want to be happy. Smiling, sunny days, joyful people around them, everyone in a wonderful mood….let’s be realistic. We can’t be consistently happy. Not all the time – it’s simply not possible unless you’re the most determinedly optimistic person on the face of this earth. I haven’t met many of those, and I’m certainly not one of them. I can’t be happy all the time because, hello, life happens!
Stress, exhaustion, special needs kids, demands on my time and no time for myself – it all adds up. I start to feel my shoulders lock up and my face pull tighter in a perpetual stressed expression. That’s no way to live. For me, stress begets stress and it snowballs into this giant self-denying storm of emotions. Not healthy!
So, I had an epiphany on the way to the grocery store today in the few rare moments a week that I actually have to myself (little kids are an introvert’s own private kind of hell.) Expecting to be happy all the time is unrealistic. I can acknowledge that, and try to be content instead.
I know, it sounds really … corny. I will be content with my lot in life and be a doormat, yay! NO! That’s not what I’m saying!
This is what I mean: trying to focus on the good side of things, the positive, wonderful parts of my life to help balance out the not-so-wonderful things.
You might think I’m already doing that, right? Yes, in a haphazard way. If I want to actively focus on something it requires a list. Something that I can use to put my thoughts in order and refer to later when one of the kids decides to dump that glass of black tea on the carpet.
So, here’s my list – part of it, anyway. I don’t have to list everything to be grateful, just the highlights.
- I have 3 wonderful children who are smart, kind, caring, adorable, quirky, and who love me so much their world ends if I’m away.
- All 3 kids are fairly healthy – something that we never stop being grateful for after our stint in the hospital with the Engineer at 5-months-old.
- I have a wonderful, caring, kind husband who is on the same page as I am when it comes to dealing with the special needs issues and the parenting issues.
- I live in an awesome area. DC is great for raising kids, especially if you’re homeschooling.
- I don’t have to worry about clean air, drinkable water, or the availability of food to eat and gas for the car.
- I don’t have to worry excessively about my kids’ safety.
- We can homeschool without fear.
- I have friends who “get” it – my tribe, who can deal with the special needs issues and not lose their stride.
- My health has improved – I can actually breath now, and I haven’t needed the inhaler in weeks.
- I can see my kitchen counter again (seriously, that’s a big deal! It’s my nemesis, and a huge stress inducer.)
You might be thinking that this an early Thanksgiving post. Not really. This is my honest attempt at turning my attitude around from winter to summer: from bleak and cold to warm and calming.
Yes, life will still happen. The kids will stress me to my last breaking point, the dog will puke on the carpet yet again, and the finance thing will drive us all nuts. That’s life. I’m hoping that I can handle it. That the winter of discontent around me will melt on the warm summer of contentment inside, because I’m holding on to what really matters.
Everything is relative. My short-lived fury about the tea-stained carpet breaks and falls under the gratitude that I have a place to live. My stress over a trip to the grocery store with kids in meltdown mode is mitigated by my joy in their existance. It’s all small stuff if you look at it that way, really.
I’m sure I’ll still yell. I’ll get stressed. I’ll probably send the kids to their rooms for a few minutes while I clean up dog puke and cry some self-pitying tears about it. That’s ok.
It’s ok, because I’m trying to stay focused on what really matters and not let the moment overwhelm reality.
Because my reality is awesome, and I need to remember that.