How are all the little things?
Growing up my Dad always asked me, “So, how are all the little things?”
Now that I’m older I realize the little things are all that really matter– at least when it comes to what’s directing your ship day in and day out.
Often it isn’t “big” things that are causing us such stress and overwhelm- it’s all the small irritations that are triggering us all day long. We brush them away as little stones, dismissing them as insignificant, without realizing how powerful a rock slide of little stones can be on our well being.
We chide ourselves that if we were really grateful for all the good in our lives, we wouldn’t be bothered by such small things. And that’s where things start to go downhill so fast. We don’t allow paradoxes to exist in our world. We can’t find motherhood both really hard and really amazing at the same time- and the truth is, it is really hard and really amazing- one doesn’t lessen or increase the other, they just both co-exist.
I remember feeling a huge sense of shame around the fact that so much of my stress came from feeling bored to tears mothering young children all day long. I was sure if I ever admitted it I’d be met with a backlash of judgment on how ungrateful I was that I even had the opportunity to be home with my kids and reminded that I chose this road.
It kept me from getting honest and acknowledging this “little trigger” for a long time.
And you know who loses in this scenario?
The boredom kept triggering my stress response, I kept feeling more and more overwhelmed (whether I acknowledged it or not) and I kept showing up as a depleted and disconnected mom. It wasn’t until I admitted to myself and others how I honestly felt- messy paradox and all- that I could begin to create solutions around it in my life.
Here’s the thing-whatever the little triggers are for you, whether you acknowledge them or not, they have their little fingers on your stress buttons.
For most of us, things are amazing and things are crazy and things are hard all at once. Often we’re ping-ponging between worlds like a split personality. Split because we don’t integrate. Split because we can’t accept that two seemingly opposite experiences can both be equally true- often at the exact same time.
You may not be able to take away the little trigger, but you can better deactivate it’s power by acknowledging it.
Do you know how to keep little things little?
By acknowledging them. Little things can masquerade as big things when they lurk in the shadows. Shine a light on them and they become little again- they may not disappear altogether, but you get to see them for what they are and then you can make a much more effective plan for dealing with them in ways that keep you and your well-being intact.
I’ve amassed quite a list of my own “little triggers” now that I’ve come to learn to look at them squarely in the eyes. I think getting them out in the open is a crucial first step.
What about you? What little things in your life seem to find their fingers on your stress buttons day in and day out?
Let’s take the first step together today and simply name them. Without judgment. Without shame. Without feeling like we need to justify how much we love our lives just because we also have things that drive us crazy in our lives too.
I’d love to hear from you…let me know in the comments what’s coming up for you as you think about little triggers in your life.
Here’s to bright lights in dark places,
You’re dead on – can’t believe this has not occurred to me!
I clicked over from the email hoping to see what some others’ triggers are to help me figure out mine. 🙂
I guess I’ll start… I’m thinking, my dining room table- it’s where all meals are eaten, where homeschooling happens, where crafting happens… and I can never see the surface of it. Perhaps going on to clutter in general. I loved this post today, Lisa… I need to ponder this some more!
I can so relate. My dining room table is a sore spot for me as well. My children are grown or college age so now it is laptops, books and papers everywhere.
Oh yes, Spring and Cindy- Clutter is a huge trigger for me as well. There is such a huge connection between our outer environments and our inner worlds. It’s actually the topics we’re exploring this week in the Cleanse Your Life course- I’ve found moving the needle toward dealing with the flow of my home has had a huge impact on my mental well being 🙂
Thank you for this, Lisa. As a newly single mom, I now must take my organizing business from part-time (something I didn’t have to do but had great passion for) to full-time (to support myself + family).
You’d think this would be my biggest stressor but it’s the little interruptions (stopping sibling bickering / dealing with “I’m bored!”) that drain me the most.
Your post brought awareness to the guilt I’m experiencing from the conflicting “I’m so glad to be able to have the boys home for the summer… they’re just growing up too quickly” TO “Can’t wait for school to start again so I can have my days back.” Glad to know I’m not alone…
Mmm…yes, Angela- the little bickerings are a huge one for me, as well. It is so SO good to hear from you here. I’m hoping all is well with you – sending my love.
Such a wonderful post. For me its “not feeling enough”. I always felt not enough, no matter what I did do and it led me to keep trying to fix things or make it better or see the next thing not enough. It took me a long time to realize this. Now when it comes up I check in and breathe and realize that I am enough and what is is… So much more contentment now… Thanks to your workshops !!! Also really realizing what how small a baby step is has been important 😀 My baby steps were a lot larger than the reality !!!
Oh yes, yes- Shalini- the undercurrent mantra of not enough. So good to weed that one out.
Yes yes! I think this saved my day. the past few weeks have gotten progressively harder, and I think it was that I was having that “I should be grateful but I just want to hide in my bed” war in my head. So tired of sibling squabbles, and one child in particular doing things just to bug the others, and the constant demand and drain put on me because the children are so. . .childish! And then feeling selfish and guilty. . .spiral! The other main trigger is interruptions in general. Not being able to keep my mind on something for more than five minutes makes me crazy(er).
This post stopped me in my tracks today, and I was able to live in both sides of the mothering journey. Thank you!
You are so welcome, Danielle- love that you shared your insight here!
Yes, the little things–and not wanting to seem petty complaining about “little things”, or things we should be grateful for. But, then they do add up don’t they? What has been stressing me out lately is having to work and having my 18 mo old in daycare, or watched by grandparents who want to come visit all the time, or sometimes home with Dad when he’s off work a week at a time. We have never been able to establish a routine because of all of the different caretakers who have their own agendas when watching the baby, supposedly helping out, but never following my wishes or requests. He has eaten so many things I haven’t wanted him to have and refuses so many things I used to be able to feed him easily. He only wants the bars and snacky foods they all give him out of convenience and to just get him to eat. He has no nap/sleep schedule to speak of, and it seems like everyone’s goal is to see who can get him to take the most and the longest naps, which really makes my nights miserable. I bite my tongue about so many things with him and our family, even though I feel like I have the right to put my foot down. He’s my son, but they are “trying to help”. Ugh! I am working really hard to save money so I can stay home after one more school year. I work in education. I want to have another baby, but I can’t handle the multiple caretakers and lack of consistency and routine and feeling out of control.
Jennifer- I totally feel you. Have you tried journaling out all these conflicting feelings/emotions/frustrations. Just allowing yourself space to write it all out, the nitty gritty, the paradoxes, the gratitudes right up against the difficulties? Sometimes holding it all in our heads is just exhausting and keeps the spiral going.
We’re all here with you, mama..sending love…
Thank you. I’ve been sort of journaling–more like listing and taking some time to breath and let go. I’m trying to be more relaxed about things but at the same time a little more vocal, in a gentle manner. My husband has responded positively, and that has helped.
Shining the light in those dark corners I found:
1. I am not a failure, just one tired mama who hasn’t been getting enough rest. Exhaustion has become my new normal and its driving me crazy! I am thrilled to have time with my kids but can’t enjoy it because I am so tired. God recognized this before me and created an unexpected and beautiful day for me and my family that I quite thoroughly enjoyed! Now He is using your blog to help shine the light on what I can change so I can enjoy the precious time I have with my kids.
2. I love having kids in the house finally! But can’t seem to control the clutter that seemingly follows them everywhere! Clutter makes me feel unfocused and like I can’t function. I also just realized it makes me feel like I am failing at my job as a homeMAKER. I have been judging myself against everyone around me and keep measuring up short. Reality is that I am a new mom of three and am still adjusting to life with three kids! I need to focus on what I CAN do without causing myself a ton of additional stress.
3. I am still falling in love with my kids and letting go of the dream of getting pregnant and having a baby. I need to allow myself room to just FEEL. Emotions are something I can’t control, but what I do with them is!
Jennifer – So SO beautiful to read your insights here. Thank you for sharing– I’m nodding yes, yes, yes, all the way through.
First of all, thank you for your honesty and for those that have shared in the comments as well. This post was so timely as my husband and I had a tough conversation recently about work, family, goals, etc. One of my triggers is when something breaks around the house. As a SAHM it feels like I am adding to our financial burden without adding a concrete solution when I say “honey, the washer is broken. Do you think we should buy a new one or do you have time to order a new part and fix it?” I guess I didn’t realize how powerless I would feel when I chose to stay home with our little baby ( now 2 babies :)). Don’t get me wrong this is what a always dreamed of and am so thankful I have a choice to stay home. But I did not realize that it would be hard emotionally and physically. Not having a way to measure my success like I used to with money or even a hallway high five among peers. Now I get spit on or kicked in the shins while giving time outs. Anyway sorry to vent it’s just good to remember that life can be good even if its hard.
Oh Jennifer- you are so hitting one of those “no go” zones we keep in dark corners- love your brave light shining in here. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks so much for posting this Lisa, finding your blog a few years ago started a deep personal journey. I relate to all the above comments and love the community of support assuring us that we are not alone and what we are experiencing as new mothers is a shared experience. The paradox you talk about – being bored, being overwhelmed and being grateful can coexsist, thankyou for naming this struggle, it seems so obvious now. The biggest breakthrough I’ve had on this journey is self kindness, I’ve always known this but now I’m actually practicing it. The shift that has taken place is extrordinary. Your work is amazing, thankyou Lisa.
Oh, and clutter…….. that’s a BIG trigger!!
Lisa, this whole post rang true for me- especially the part about being grateful for your children while also being bored. Yes! This is exactly where I am but had not been able to put it to words. I don’t think I have anything to add to the conversation, but I’m so glad that you helped me to see it. I am also really grateful to know that I’m not alone.
Lisa, this is so beautiful! I connected so much to this especially: “I remember feeling a huge sense of shame around the fact that so much of my stress came from feeling bored to tears mothering young children all day long. I was sure if I ever admitted it I’d be met with a backlash of judgement on how ungrateful I was that I even had the opportunity to be home with my kids and reminded that I chose this road.” I had a bout of postpartum depression around each of my children’s first birthdays and it was so hard to get help because I felt all I wanted was to be home with my children, so how could I possibly be unhappy? It wasn’t about them of course, and it wasn’t about my decision to stay home, which was and still is exactly what I want – it was about being an amazing mother in the context of being a whole person. 🙂
I was awake in the night getting bombarded by little things – emails that I need to respond to but can’t find the time. I decided to wake up and get some of them done….and in the process I found this email! Thank you!! It was just what I needed to finish a few more and go back to sleep 🙂
I am moved to tears to realize how mom-universal my triggers are…most of you took the words right out of my mouth (I have 4 children). Reinforcement that we are all in this together and regardless of your occupations, religions, political beliefs etc we need to support one another. Thank you all so much. In Gratitude and Respect, C
My boys are constantly fighting. Today I have literally checked.out. I am ignoring it b/c I am so tired, so very tired of it. I cannot cope living in a house like this where yelling and meanness and unhappiness is the dominant tone. I don’t have any solutions. I feel very discouraged by it. It’s sort of little… but it gets big. A weary mom.