The alarm jolted me awake at 6:25am, but my body was just not ready to get up. I reached over and hit the 9 minute snooze button and rolled back over right into the arms of my handsome husband. We laid there silently embracing while I thought about the day ahead of me and listened to the rain outside. The cloudy weather made it darker than normal in our bedroom which made it even more difficult to venture out of our warm cocoon.
It’s sad that at 6:25am when I had not even spoken aloud yet and my feet had not even touched the floor, I was already trying to figure out when I would be able to go back to bed. I verbalized my thoughts to my husband, who laughed at me (while probably looking forward to getting back in bed with me too, but for other reasons). Men…
I reluctantly fought my way out of the sheets and went to wake up my 13 year old son. He had obviously had a restless night because his head was where his feet had been when he went to sleep. He sat up and said, “I don’t feel so good.” Not a great way to start the day.
My step-son was asleep in the other bed, so I whispered to my son to get up and shower and that it would make him feel better (yes, mothers always tell you that if you get up/shower/eat then you will feel better).
After rushing around to get ready and pack lunches, we were ready to head out the door to school promptly at 7:45am. RAIN? I was not expecting rain. Obviously I was not expecting rain since my umbrella was IN my car and my car was in the driveway… in the rain. We ran to the car trying to protect our “i-stuff” in the process.
Not even two blocks away we encountered a very long trailer that was having a hard time turning onto Glenwood from Anderson. He had the intersection blocked and there were cars just sitting around everywhere. I remember sitting there thinking that I had not even been awake for two hours and my day was already MISERABLE.
After a lot of trouble and waiting and sitting in the carpool line, I was headed into work. With my music playing, I tried to think about happy thoughts but was overcome with thinking about the difficulties I have been facing with a negative force in my life and I started just getting ANGRY.
By the time I parked my car I was just mad and tired. And it was only 8am.
As I was walking to work from the parking garage, I heard a weird crack coming from the ground and I noticed my shoe felt strange. I looked down and realized that my heel had broken. So now I was tired, mad and wet with a broken heel. It was almost more than my head could handle which made me feel like breaking something, well, other than my heel.
So thoughts were bombarding my brain as they so often do during that short walk from my car to my office. It came to my mind that life is just like those books I used to enjoy reading when I was a child – the books where you got to choose which direction the story takes next.
Our lives are our own “Choose Your Own Adventure” book!
I realized I was CHOOSING to allow these negative thoughts to take over. I was choosing to allow a difficult morning to take happy time out of my life. I was choosing to let a little bit of difficulty caused by an unhappy person to take my focus off the 99% of AMAZINGNESS I have in my life every single day.
I made up my mind at that moment that the gloves were coming off in regards to unhappy thoughts. I was not going to give control to something that deserves NO control. Negative people too. DONE.
And it worked! When Warren called me to pick him up from school because he couldn’t make it through the day, I was walking out the door for a birthday lunch with a friend. Instead of my birthday lunch, I had to rush to the middle school to get my baby. I could have been upset about missing my lunch date, but I focused on how thankful I am to have a job that allows me to just leave when necessary to care for my babies.
Anytime a negative thought tried to creep into my head (which let me tell you with some of the stupid in my life at times, it’s hard NOT to let it creep in) I replaced it with happy thoughts. I thought about how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family. I thought about how lucky I am to wake up every single morning next to a man with whom I am madly in love. I thought about how much I love sharing soccer with my stepdaughter when I can and watching my son play basketball.
There are so many more happy thoughts than negative in my life, but it does often feel like the negative thoughts are so much heavier on the brain and heart. So DON’T LET THEM IN!!!
This is also a great point for families in a divorce situation. Too many parents focus on the one or two “bad things” their ex does rather than just trust in them to make the right decisions regarding the children.
Now don’t get me wrong, if your ex is doing something that is harmful to the children – getting drunk to the point of passing out with them around, leaving them alone at night to hit the bars/clubs, hurting them in any way physically or emotionally – then fight, fight fight for your kids. If, however, your ex is just not doing things in her/his house like YOU would do, then replace the bad thoughts with good thoughts and MOVE ON.
I got a comment from a reader earlier this week about this very subject. Here is a copy of her comment:
As I said in a previous post, we can only control what we can control. And we cannot control our ex. And no matter how much we beg and plead to them to change something that we may not agree with, we are NO LONGER MARRIED. So basically your viewpoint means nothing to him/her and you are wasting your breath. As a matter of fact, he will probably fight you on it and do whatever it is more in an attempt to prove you wrong in some way.
IF YOU COULD AGREE ON EVERYTHING, THEN YOU WOULD STILL BE MARRIED.
I read a lot about this subject because it’s common for married parents to disagree about parenting issues. AND THEY LOVE EACH OTHER! So if you two are divorced, then you can’t expect to agree on things. And the only time you have a right to get involved is when it is detrimental to your children. And not that YOU BELIEVE it is detrimental to your children, but you have valid proof that it is indeed harming your kids in some way. Unless you have that, then there is absolutely nothing you should do to try to change what happens at your ex’s house. Because it’s pointless and it only makes you and everyone around you miserable.
I tell friends who are dealing with this the same thing EVERY TIME. You have to CHOOSE how to deal with this and rather than trying to force your goals and views on your ex, choose to live the best life you can and be the best role model that you can in YOUR HOME. You can control what happens in your own home and the beauty of it is that if your children are old enough, then they will be able to choose parts of each of you that they want to emulate as they mature. They will see one parent who is living life in such a way that is not admirable and they will the see you living the best life you can and being a good role model. Which one do you think they will want to emulate when they have children of their own??
And that’s what our goal has to be. They may learn behavior at the other parent’s home that you will not allow in your home. I can’t tell you how many times with four kids we say, “You won’t do that in OUR home” when they try to convince us that they should be able to do something since they do it at the other parent’s house. If they are old enough, then they will be mad, but they will also think about why it is allowed at one home and not the other. And hopefully they will learn something in the process.
It’s the same thing on the flipside too. If you happily encourage your kids to love the other parent and encourage them to be a daily part of the other parent’s life even when they are with you, they will remember it when they grow older and respect you more for it. As I have said in previous posts, the kids will remember which parent truly respected their love for the other parent. It’s the parent who is not threatened by the child loving the other parent. It’s the parent who is mature enough to know that the child has enough love to go around so they encourage the children to view themselves as having ONE LARGE FAMILY rather than separate lives with either parent.
So, choose your own adventure! Choose to be happy! And choose to always put the kids first! That should be your new normal. And you won’t have to even talk to your kids about it, because they will know what just feels right… and they will know who truly had their best interests at heart every step of the way.
Update – After posting this blog this morning, I ran to the grocery store to get the ingredients to make my famous Brunswick Stew. What I thought would be a quick trip to the grocery store took a lot longer than expected because there was a little old lady in front of me in line who wanted to run back and get some ice cream that was on sale. Then she had a rain check item to talk about. Then she used coupons. Then she wrote a check. The entire time she was just smiling and chatting with the young cashier and the young bagger (both looked like they were in high school). She looked at me and apologized for taking so long and I smiled at her and said, “Not a problem. Have a nice day.”
After she walked out, the cashier said, “I am SO sorry she took so long. Thank you for your patience.” She looked at me with a genuinely apologetic look. I thought about my blog and I said, “I could choose to be in a rush and be angry, but who would that help? It would have hurt her feelings, it would have made you unhappy and it would have just made me feel bad. So I might as well be patient and enjoy my day.” Both of them looked at me like I was crazy. After a pregnant pause the young cashier said, “And it wouldn’t make it go any quicker. I wish more people thought that way.”
She got it.
We smiled at each other and I told her to have a wonderful day. I truly hope she does…