“How was your day?”
Nearly every day when my husband comes home from work, this is the first question he asks me. And most days, I have the same answer.
“It was hard.”
A few weeks ago, he asked me this same question, and as I replied “it wasn’t great,” I had a thought flash through my mind:
When is the last time I said I’d had a GOOD day?
Honestly, it had been a while. Memories of “good days” are few and far between. If I’d taken a calendar and colored each good day yellow, and each bad day blue, the calendar would be a pretty dark shade of navy with a few specks of sunshine here and there. That’s kinda depressing.
But why? Is my life really that bad? Is it really that hard?
I mean, life is hard. I have four kids under five. I’m dealing with medically undiagnosed chronic pain. My house is constantly a mess. I find maintaining relationships to be difficult and wrestle with loneliness. Conflict is inevitable. Our financial situation isn’t fantastic. Our world (at large) is in turmoil.
But, on the whole, my life is really quite amazing. I shouldn’t complain. I have an amazing family. My husband has a steady job. I have friends, a great church, and an amazing support system I can call at any time. I have a deep, rich faith. I am, on the whole, quite fulfilled in my role as a wife and mother.
So why is it that 9 days out of 10, I would describe my days as “rough,” “hard,” or downright “bad?”
Is it because I’m a pessimist? Am I ungrateful? Does exhaustion color my yellow memories blue? Do I suffer from short-term memory loss?
I believe a large part of the reason I find myself ending each day in a sea of regrets and “wish I would haves” is because I set unrealistic expectations for myself and my family. I want us to go through each day without any meltdowns or “issues.” Any of the above tends to send me into a tailspin of emotion and feelings of failure as a mother.
Another huge reason I tend to color my days as “bad” is because I am a black and white kind of thinker. Shades of gray are very difficult for me to decipher. So when a toddler has a tantrum or I get struck by the witching hour meltdowns at 4pm, the entire day feels defeated.
The crux of the matter is this: for whatever reason, all it takes is a couple really bad moments to make a day “bad,” and the only way a day earns the “good” title is if there are ZERO tough moments coloring it.
But do those bad moments really have the power to destroy the goodness of an entire day?
Only if I allow them to.
While it may certainly feel as though the entire day has been “horrible” based on a four-minute toddler meltdown in the Target parking lot, the reality is, it was probably just a really, really horrible four minutes. One bad phone call, a stinky attitude from a coworker, or flat tire on the side of the interstate does not have to ruin an entire day.
The bigger danger that happens when I choose to categorize my days as either “good” or “bad” is that the little, beautiful, gratitude-inducing moments tend to get swept up in the tornadic chaos of bad moments and we spiral into bad days, weeks and months.
I forget that, yes, my toddler might have melted down, but man, did we have a great time at Target goofing around with the Halloween costumes. She’s so stinking adorable.
I lose track of the encouraging text message I received right on the heels of that really difficult phone call.
I miss opportunities to be the positive force in my workplace when I allow one coworker to drag me down.
It’s hard to stay positive when I’m stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire, but it’s so fun to watch my kids imaginations turn any disaster into an adventure.
I refuse to let the “bad” moments in life control my thinking and my life anymore.
Instead, I’ve got a new game plan. No longer will I label my days (or weeks or months) as good, bad, tough, great, difficult, or easy. From now on, I’m intentionally reflecting on my life in bite-size moments — reflecting on the bad ones, feeling those difficult emotions, but then letting them go, while simultaneously holding onto and celebrating the good moments.