My mother used to say, “It’s always something.”
I’ve been looking forward to going upstate for quite a while. Jon and I both took extra measures to prepare for the trip so that things would go smoothly and we could make that oft sought after early departure. As a self-admitted “time optimist” I’ve historically been caught running around, crazed and harried, while tensions mount between me and my family members. I was bound and determined to break from this historical experience today.
We finished packing the car (another experience to be replayed time and time again – he says we won’t fit it all in, and I say we will, and then we do, and then I get to be right, but then the next time he says we won’t fit it all in again. But that’s a topic for another blog.) All that stood between us and the open road was to get the kids settled into the car.
The forecast was calling for snow, so I thought Isabel should wear shoes that would keep her feet dry. I decided her rain boots would do the trick. She agreed, and bent down to pull them on.
Using the little rubber loops at the top of the boots.
A little too hard.
And then BAM! One of them snapped off. GAME OVER.
I could NOT believe what was happening. She went into total meltdown mode, screaming, “Those were my favorite shoes! … This always happens! … I’m not going!!… I hate this!.. I’m not getting in the car now!!!… WHAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
“We need to leave.”
Uhhh, yeah! I think I was already aware of that.
Seriously? IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING!
At least, it feels that way. I could totally relate to Isabel’s rant as she lay there. But even as she was saying it, I was cringing because the more we SAY “it always…” the more it IS always. (Now how to tell an 8-year-old that in the middle of a meltdown…that takes a kind of insight I have not yet found.)
Long story short, somehow I managed to keep my cool, navigate the tricky waters of the Impatient Husband ocean, and get her into the car. Setting her up with a movie seemed a bit of a cop-out, but hey, I know at least one parenting book that touts using distractions to be an ok method of calming a child.
This experience comes on the heels of a few conversations I’ve had with some of the people who recently attended the Abundance and Prosperity workshop. They tell me that “everything after the workshop was great”… for about a week. But then they hit some bumps in the road. I can hear the disappointment in their voice, as though they were expecting things to go more smoothly from here on out. And then when life’s little situations occur, the historical pull brings them back to where they were before they felt so optimistic, sometimes erasing the progress they’ve made.
I used to yearn for a bump-free life. But then some time ago, I had a realization that the goal is not to get rid of all the bumps in our lives, because that’s a completely unrealistic ideal. There are going to be bumps. Instead, the ideal is to shift how we respond to these bumps when they inevitably happen.
Case in point with Isabel – it’s no secret that she presents her own set of challenges for me as a parent. For one year since her “last worst” meltdown (New Year’s Eve 2012) I’ve been completely committed to shifting her behavior and my response to it. While I did stand there in disbelief and resignation when that boot loop broke, it is a testament to the work we’ve both done together that within 15 minutes she was in the car, and actually said to me, “Thanks for your help, Mommy. Sorry it was so hard.” And I was able to say, “That’s ok, honey. Are you proud of me how calm I stayed?” She was.
Some people say that as soon as you make a declaration or a commitment, you are immediately in breakdown because you don’t yet have what you declared. As you drive down that road, looking through the windshield of life, you’ll see some familiar and historical landscapes. It will seem like the same old thing is happening, and you’re not making any progress. But you will be able to handle any breakdowns that come your way. The only significance or power they hold over you will be directly determined by the significance or power you give them. Focus on how you respond to the breakdowns and your commitment to what is important to you. Then resist looking in the rear view mirror, and instead keep your eye on that horizon.