Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"The devil is in the details"

Well here I am another day in the life of me. I had a great conversation with my mom this morning, although it was too short. After hung up I was thinking a lot about some of the things she said...which was not much in words as she was soaking up my ramblings without interruption.

For those of you who know me well you may describe me as a control freak. I can accept that and also know that some may see that as a positive characteristic, others a negative. I think it can be both. Right now I am realizing that sometimes the details in life are not so important. Without going into detail (no pun intended) I had a rough day yesterday. It was a heavy day in a lot of ways, the weather was cool, rainy and gray. By the time dinner came I was so looking forward to starting over I could not wait for bed. Julia was struggling with some homework and getting really frustrated. After some prodding I found out she had a rough day at school. Normally I would have hugged her and told her "chin up! Let's move on and plow through that homework...we HAVE to get it done, this is your responsibility...I know you don't want to do this but there are a lot of things I don't want to do that I have to so buck up little one and let's get this done" (now that all sounds cheery as I write it, but let me assure you my tone would not have been cheery. It would have been tired, cranky and harsh. I would have felt that this was one more thing I HAD to take on for the day, and really why is this ALWAYS falling on me??) Boy does this suck!"

Well thankfully I did not do what I would have always done. I took a deep breath and looked around. In a split second I saw a sink full of dirty dishes, reminding me that the dishwasher was full of clean ones. I saw the rubbermaid tub of things filled with luau supplies (the party was September 18th and it is now October 12th!!). These things are my "job". My things that I "have to do". I had slacked, decided I have been having a rough time of it and let some things go (consciously or unconsciously). In that split second it became so clear to me that the "details" didn't really matter right now. The world was not going to end (obviously) if the dishes did not get done or if that damn plastic bin stayed on the living room floor for a month. Why was I pushing her so hard to get it all done? Did it really matter if she did not get that homework done? Did it really matter if she got a "pink slip" in school? She is such a good girl. She works so hard and I just keep pushing her. I need a break...doesn't she need one too?

In that split second moment (that I had had so very many times before and made the wrong choice) I was finally able to make the right one. I gently took her homework away from her and said "you know what? It's ok. This is too much for you today. You do not NEED to do this." I told her "look at this pile of dishes. I am supposed to have emptied this already and the dirty ones should be in there. That is mommy's job. I just cannot do that today. It's just too much of an effort right now. Homework is too much for you to do right now. Let's just call it a day". We did just that. We got our jammies on and snuggled up. We watched some TV and just let the day slip away. Too many times I feel the need to control. I can get so caught up in the "role" that it all slips by. Stepping back, I realized that in the "Big Picture" dirty dishes and incomplete homework are not going to stop the world from spinning.

The details have been sucking me dry as of late. The prodding of all the little things I think must get done. The appointments kept, the meetings gone to, the plate that is already over flowing just keeps getting things added to it. Trying to please those all around me while leaving myself for last. Trying and failing to be what I think people want me to be. The dishes and homework, the daily grind of details, the lack of focus on the big picture. It's all been bleeding me dry.

My mom has always told me I always learn things the hard way. Many have told me time and again that the big picture is more important. Yesterday I realized it is. Now I won't say that I will remember that tomorrow, or next week. But I am thankful that I saw a glimpse of it yesterday.


  1. This was really powerful, Jo. And so, so true! Thanks for writing it!


  2. Jo, I think this is one of the hardest lessons that many of us have to learn. Not only stepping back and looking at the big picture but to remember to take it easy on ourselves (and our kids) and remember we need to focus on ourselves so we can be better for everyone else. Great post!

  3. I finally got the chance to sit down and read your blog, and I'm now going to make it a "favorite" and send it to my Mom, since we both know she's a Jo fan. I'm so honored to have you as a friend. You inspire me more than you will ever know. What a great lesson you shared for all of us. I know exactly what you mean about always wanting to be in control of everything and not letting it go. Last night....at 9:30.....as I was exasperated with Matthew about yet another project, I needed this advice. I speak for everyone as I thank you for sharing your life with us and your words of wisdom. I know you don't think that about yourself, and hopefully in time you will, but they are words of wisdom!