A few months ago, something changed. I started to get really frustrated with having constant arguments with Eli. Everything was a battle as they are wont to be with toddlers. One morning we bounced from what toys he could take with him, to whether he could wear his shoes in the house, to whether he needed a jacket in the span of like 10 minutes. I hated that I was so frustrated and I hated that our peaceful morning was lost to a battle of wills. I really hated that I was engaging in arguments with my not even 2 year olds.
And so I started thinking. I am a fixer, I know this. I feel like I need to be responsible for everyone and everything and it is exhausting. I have worked so hard to control everything that I can, and yet, things are never controlled. And I finally realized that it was time to stop the madness.
I started with my interactions with Eli. Before I engaged in an argument with him, I took a second to decide whether we really needed to argue. For example, last Friday, he insisted upon bringing a cat toy to his music class. The toy wasn’t gross or huge, it didn’t make any noise and it wasn’t going to be intrusive. So why on earth was I going to fight with him about it? Or yesterday- we were going to the park, I wanted him to wear his tennis shoes, but he found his crocs and put them on himself and did not want to switch shoes. The park doesn’t have sand or woodchips (it’s that rubber stuff), so was there really any reason that wasn’t okay?
And just like that, things got easier. Lest it sound like I’m a permissive parent, that’s not the case at all, but I’ve finally learned how to pick my battles. How to decide what is worth the time and energy of putting up a fight, and what is not. And lo, it is a beautiful thing.
Since then, I’ve been trying to apply it to more than just parenting because I began to see how much easier things were. So I started doing it very intentionally at my work, in my marriage, with my friendships, with this pregnancy. And all I can really say is wow. I am happier and less stressed and things are suddenly easier. I don’t feel the weight of fighting every battle, of managing everything. It took me 30 years, but I somehow learned to let things go.
Over the past month or so, my therapists and I have been discussing discharge (I do individual counseling and my husband and I do couples counseling). We all agreed that we were coming to the end of the line and that we would do a few more sessions, just to make sure all our ducks were in a row.
And the last appointments were tonight. I started individual counseling in October of 2012, I started couples counseling in January of 2013 and now I’m finished.
(Just to be clear, my marriage has never been in danger, it just wasn’t always good. The arguments lasted hours and never got resolved, the communication sucked. And now, they don’t and it doesn’t.)
Things are just…good. I know that I still have my share of issues and my marriage is imperfect, but this is okay. I can manage my issues, my anxiety. My husband and I can communicate and work through the things we face in the future. We are good. I am good. I am ready to be finished and I am really happy to be where I am now. I don’t live under the delusion that I won’t need a mental health tune up at any point in the future, or that my marriage will ever be perfect. But I have worked hard, we have worked hard, and now we are going to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
And you know what? happiness was well worth the work.