Last week, we lost my son Zach’s red sweatshirt, my daughter Kaylee’s rain boots, and her rain coat. I write “we,” but really I mean “me.” I feel it’s my personal responsibility to keep track of all of our stuff. It’s not like I can realistically expect my husband or my kids to do it.
I get really upset when we lose stuff. If it’s a toy, especially if it came from a goody bag, I don’t stress too much about it, but if it’s something of mine, or if it’s something we use all the time, I get really bent out of shape. I actually got pretty depressed about the clothes and boots because I took it to mean that I’m so out of control, so overwhelmed, that I’m losing our basic necessities.
My husband kept trying to comfort me, saying that it was just as possible that it wasn’t my fault. I’m a perfectionist so it was easy for me to consider him wrong and to insist that it is indeed my fault.
I am happy to report that we have recovered all three items. My mother accidentally took Zach’s sweatshirt home last week with her stuff, I found Kaylee’s rain boots inside the basket of the folded-up stroller, and my husband found her rain coat at preschool this morning.
This should probably make me feel better, but it doesn’t. What bothered me most about losing the stuff was that I could not for the life of me remember where I had last seen the items, whether I’d been the last person to fold up the stroller (it would have felt SO much better if I had remembered my husband doing it. It’s easier to forgive him than myself. I’d also have had the chance to rub it in a little if it had been his fault.) I could have sworn I had brought her rain coat home from preschool, but apparently I got distracted.
I feel like that will be my epitaph: “Accidental death due to being distracted.” Our house is full of things lying around that my husband or I started to deal with, then left when we got called away by each other or one of the children.
The perfectionist part of me says, “See? You write about mindfulness, but clearly you’re failing at it. Get your act together.”
The compassionate, inner knowing part of me says, “This is a reminder to practice Acceptance.”
In dialectical behavior therapy, there’s a slide that describes “Four options for painful problems”:
- Solve the problem
- Change the way you feel about it
- Accept it
- Stay miserable
Practicing mindfulness could help alleviate being so distracted, but it’s not realistic for me to aim for not ever forgetting anything. It’s just not possible. I can change the way I feel about losing stuff by accepting that it’s okay, that it happens to lots of people, not just me, and it’s not a sign that I’m failing as a parent or a human being. I actually think these things, which are ineffective and really not helpful.
Dr. Marsha Linehan lists three parts to the skill “radical acceptance“:
- accept that reality is what it is
- accept that the event or situation causing me pain has a cause
- accept that life can be worth living with painful events in it
I can easily forgive my mother for accidentally bringing Zach’s sweatshirt home with her. I can practice forgiving myself for being distracted and be grateful for the many things I do remember each day: picking them up from school, feeding them every couple of hours, and telling them how much I love them.
How do you cope with constantly getting distracted?