I have this thing in restaurants. I don’t like to start chatting–like really get into the meaty conversations–until everyone has sat down and ordered.
This seems like an odd thing to be stressed about, but until the menus are cleared, I am very distracted. I’m only half paying attention to my fellow diners and only half paying attention to the menu. Basically it is just a muddled mess.
With good friends, I’ll affirmatively tell them about my quirk as explanation for why I’m not ready to talk yet. With others, I’ll try to wing it the best as I can. (In Rome it can be easier because I’m probably just going to order the cacio e pepe anyway.)
With the kiddos, I sometimes feel like I’m in a perpetual state of waiting-to-order. My attention is always split five ways, and I feel a little panicky drum beat. Even when everything is going fine, I stress that we are two seconds from a disaster or meltdown. I never really let down my guard. I can’t quite get a full breath.
No one else with me hears the mounting sense of urgency in my skull. It is completely of my own making. I am doing it to myself.
I’m getting better about this. I think some of it is the kids. Henry still has spectacular meltdowns, but I don’t constantly view him as a ticking time bomb these days. Some of it is me. I’m gaining confidence in my mom skills. I’m learning that not everything is the end of the world. Maybe we will be a total show, but it will probably be OK.
This difference in perception intrigues me. For example, someone viewing us might see a family playing at the park. They don’t know that my running monologue is all twenty minutes to lunch time are they going to lose it why do they keep hitting each other do I need to get Henry return that toy, it looks like they are leaving, crap do I even have any snacks crap crap if we don’t leave soon are they going to fall asleep on the way home.
You get the picture.
And again, I’m only doing this to myself. No one is making me crazy but me. No one is making me miss out on the sunshine and time with my kids. Just me.
I think about this. Standing in line can be two completely different experiences. You could be impatient and huffy. Or you could be pleasantly alone with your thoughts, observing the things around you with interest. The exact same activity. Two very different experiences.
I want to pass this message on to the kiddos. It is your choice. Generally, no one is affirmatively doing anything horrible to you. It is all how YOU decide to feel about it. You can be miserable. You can be fine. It’s up to you.
(Although I will say the construction going on in the apartment above us for the past three weeks is pushing the limits of my “it’s your choice” mantra. I am so. very. over it.)
To start, aside from pesky construction issues, I’ll be working on taking my own advice. Enjoy the moment. Don’t panic about what isn’t even happening yet. Just breathe.