I have to admit, I am mildly OCD.
Not “tap my fingers ten times before I move on to the next thing” OCD. More like “adjust the crooked picture frame on the wall before I leave the house” OCD. So … like I said, it’s a mild case.
I have two children under the age of five, so you can imagine upholding my standards of order and tidiness can be quite a taxing endeavor. I often find myself coming behind them in every room, spending an inordinate amount of time getting things to be “just so”, so I can enjoy my space and relax.
In my neverending quest to be in control of my life and my personal space, I also tend to get ahead of myself.
Every week we travel to my parents’ house for the day. My routine is to pack the diaper bag with extra sandals, pacifiers, wipes, and sunscreen, so that I don’t have to worry about it when it’s time to leave. But I always, without fail, forget that I prepared ahead of time.
In the moment, when we are almost ready to leave, I second guess myself. Oh no, we need to go buy sunscreen. Wait, where are the sandals? And the pacifiers? Why do I never have it together?
This morning my daughter and I sat down to do some coloring before her sister woke up. It seemed as though most of her markers were dried up, so while she colored happily, I dumped out the containers and organized them. (Remember the OCD? It’s real).
As I was going through used coloring books, throwing a few things out, and lamenting how the girls never put caps back on the markers, I found something — a huge bag of markers that were buried underneath a pile of puzzles.
My daughter rejoiced! She had so many “new” markers and spent the rest of the hour gleefully coloring fairies.
It has become a theme in our home — just when I think I need to go out and buy something, I do a little digging, and voilà! The item appears out of nowhere.
This made me think: how often do I miss the abundance of what I already have because I am so busy planning, preparing, tidying and trying to stay in control?
How often do I miss the simple joy of the moment because I am too busy worrying about the next?
My children are constant reminders to me of the beauty of living in the moment. Their minds don’t comprehend tomorrow, and they quickly forget what happened yesterday. What matters to them is right now.
When I hear “mom can you come and color with me?” my mind races to the million things that I need to get done. But I know that the most important thing I can do, for my daughters’ hearts and for my own, is to say yes.
Joy doesn’t just happen. You have to dig for it.
Sometimes it’s just below the surface. And it doesn’t often come to you without effort — you have to pay attention. So often I can go through my days checking social media, handling business, and ticking things off my to-do list.
It feels like I will never get to the top of the mountain to see the view- that I will always be climbing, always battling the never-ending piles of laundry, of groceries, of checklists, business goals, and social expectations.
But sometimes, I am able to stop and remember that I already have everything I truly need. And if I can mine for it, joy and abundance is already right there under my nose.
Just like those markers, or that extra sunscreen in my bag, joy was there all along — I just wasn’t looking for it.
What does joy look like for you?
For me, it’s dancing in the kitchen with my girls. It’s watching them make hilarious faces at breakfast. It’s a long uninterrupted dinner with my husband or coffee with a friend. It’s reading a good book and lying in the grass.
Whatever your joy is, I can guarantee one thing — it’s right there, waiting for you to notice it.
When we stop wondering what is required of us, or what we require, we can enjoy the simplicity of just being.
Sometimes we are so busy taking care of everyone else that we forget to give ourselves some love.
Finding joy can be hard when we are pulled in so many directions, but as soon as we understand that balance is a myth, we can get on the way to defining our own version of success.
Be sure to find your own joy in the midst of life’s craziness — and don’t feel guilty about it.
For more on motherhood, reimagined, check out The New Mystique.