380 days of loving more!
A few weeks before my wedding I got some of the best advice from a friend who had just been a Bridesmaid. She said, “whatever happens, choose to smile and laugh, don’t be a b*tch.” I kid you not. At the moment, I thought this was peculiar advice. Of course I wouldn’t be a b*tch on my wedding day! I would be oozing love and joy and all things magical and wonderful of course!
And then during my cocktail hour, a friend and I went to hug and in our exuberance misjudged our arm placements. We collectively knocked his glass of red wine down the front of my dress. My beautiful, white, wedding dress. What’s a Bride to do?
I laughed, of course!
And then, as my mother and friends tried to rush me to the bathroom to save my dress, I joyfully said, “It’s all good! Really! Let me eat some h’orsdeuvres!” They looked at me in disbelief. Who was this Bride and where was the real person they knew who flipped out over the smallest things??? And then in the bathroom, as they all tried to clean my dress, I continued laughing and said, “Just give me some more wine, I’ll pour it on my dress in other spots and make a polka dot dress!” I was not kidding, not one bit.
Was I drunk? Nope. I just remembered the advice from my friend and CHOSE to not let the great red wine incident of January 3, 2004 ruin my Wedding Day. See, when my friend was a bridesmaid a few weeks prior to my wedding, she witnessed the Bride go ballistic on a fellow bridesmaid after she accidentally spilled wine all over her. My friend explained to me how the Bride singlehandedly ruined both her own wedding and one of her friendships with her terse words and screaming, hissy fit. As she shared this story with me she said, “Whatever you do, if something goes wrong at your wedding, because it probably will, don’t be that Bride. Choose to enjoy everything else around you.”
Such a key word. I am so glad that I chose on my wedding day to let the red wine incident go. In fact, short of getting married, it is one of my favorite memories of that day. Oddly enough though, despite that wonderful experience and knowing that I can always make the choice to focus on the positive and not the negative, when I became a mom I completely forgot this lesson! Before this challenge, I did a truly phenomenal job of letting small or big annoying things bring me down and ruin special days. Blech.
I remember my first birthday as a mom. I remember my son crying all day and my just wanting to have fun and celebrate. I let it get to me instead of enjoying all the phone calls and cards and flowers that arrived that day; I let the crying ruin my mood, my day.
I remember my first Thanksgiving with two kids and trying to get a family picture for a Christmas Card. I remember the tears from all three of us because no one was cooperating and I just wanted the perfect card. I let my disappointment get to me; I let it ruin my mood, my Thanksgiving day.
I remember our first family vacation to the beach with three kids in tow. I remember being so frustrated that it wasn’t a real vacation, that no child was sleeping, that I couldn’t sit back and read a book. I let my annoyances get to me; I let them ruin my first three vacation days.
On day 4, I finally woke up and remembered something. I had a choice. I could choose to complain and whine or choose to embrace the beach, crying babies and all. I chose to embrace all that was around me and ignore the few things getting me down. The rest of the vacation was great. Not perfect, but great nonetheless.
On my 365th day of my challenge when my son had his seizure I felt anger; and I have felt it for the last few weeks. BUT I made a choice that day. I would NOT let that seizure ruin my day, and I didn’t. I had my angry moment and then I focused on how grateful I was that my husband was home to help. I focused on how grateful I was that even though the emergency medicine didn’t work, he still came out of the seizure okay. I focused on how excited my boys were to release balloons and eat celebratory cake. I focused on how lucky I was to have such a supportive Orange Rhino Community. And you know what else I did that day? After I cried, and re-focused on all the good things? I laughed.
I laughed because I knew in my heart of hearts that #4 would have a seizure that day. I just knew it, so much so I almost wrote it down on paper and hid it to show my husband later. If there is one thing I have learned as a mom it’s that chances are that on the days and times that I really, really want to be totally awesome and perfect and special, as long as I have young children, something will probably go wrong. Whether it be one child doesn’t nap and is cranky, one child gets a fever, one child falls, or one child just knows I want the day to be easy and therefore refuses to let it be as such, the chance is something will not meet my expectations.
And I have finally accepted that and it is OKAY with me and thankfully stopped yelling at those moments. My kids are just kids; they don’t need to be perfect. And I don’t need perfect moments. I just need happy moments and I can choose to make imperfect moments, happy. I can choose to be a little more laid back with more realistic expectations because that does help the moment go smoother (and keeps me from yelling.) And I can choose to focus on the good even when things happen beyond my control because they are going to, time and time again.
That certainly was the case two weeks ago. But thank gosh for The Orange Rhino Challenge because it is a daily reminder that just like on my wedding day, I have a choice every moment. I can let things get to me when my expectations for a special “perfect” day aren’t met and I can be a yelling, hissy fit b*tch, or I can be a loving mom who goes with the flow and appreciates the perfectly imperfect moments!
I am going with the flow a lot more now and I have got to tell you, it makes for a lot more beautiful, yell-free memories. This is entirely new territory for me – not letting unmet expectations ruin special moments or days – and I still struggle at times to remember to make the choice to focus on the positive. But when I do, oh does it truly feel better. It feels great not fretting and fighting over Christmas pictures, not complaining and crying over restless vacations, and not yelling and yipping over my kids behavior when they are just being kids and are trying their best to please me (because they are you know….)
At the end of the day, my kids are not perfect; I am not perfect. Together we will not always have perfect moments. But, we can have lots of happily imperfect ones that are perfect because we are together…and because I choose to focus on the positive, not the negative.
* Note: Emphasis on the I am not perfect. I am not, truly. I believe everything I have written here but will sometimes forget it. But I will still try to embrace and remember all of it because again, when I do, it is awesome.