Groundhog Day … All over again, and again, and again

November 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

“I feel like I’m living in the movie Groundhog Day,”
I recently told my husband in exasperation. “Load the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher. Wipe the counters. Fold the laundry. Repeat.”

I wasn’t joking. Some days – OK, quite a few days – feel mind-numbingly similar and it is no mystery why. They are. Sometimes I like that. Sometimes I feel a kind of calmness in the orderly schedule of my week. And sometimes I want to throw myself on the floor like a three-year-old and scream.

And that’s when it hit me. I am that three-year-old. The very things that make my daughter crazy still make me crazy; i.e. the lack of choice.

So maybe that’s it then. What if I gave myself more choices? I’m not talking about a complete boycott – dishes in the sink, laundry on the floor, dog hair everywhere – I’m talking about an influx of choices built into those boring, seemingly no-choice situations.

Let me explain. When my daughter has to get dressed, sometimes she’s just not feeling it – a lot of times, in fact, because that kid loves to be naked. So, to sweeten the deal, I do what I was taught way back when I was in school for Early Childhood Education; I give her a choice. “You have to get dressed. But would you like to wear a dress or pants? The red one or the green?” Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always work but it works most of the time. Now I wonder, could that be the key for me?

What if I built my own choices – or even little self-care additions – into my day? Little moments that could be just about me. I have to fold the laundry but while I do it maybe I can listen to a podcast. I have to take the kids to gymnastics but while I’m there what if I read that book I’ve been waiting to read?

Reviewing my day, I realize there are a lot of choices I could build in that I’ve never thought of before. I could use that coffee foot scrub I got for my birthday and shoved in a cupboard. It’ll take 30 seconds and make my whole shower smell like a vanilla latte. I could make a game out of putting my kids’ toys away by tossing them into the bin like an NBA All-Star. I could blast the kind of music I want to hear while I do the dishes and if anyone objects, I could say, “These are my dish-washing tunes and if you don’t like it, you do the dishes!”

Just thinking about all the choices I have – I feel better already. It’s not really the chores that I dislike anyway – well, OK, some of them I really don’t like no matter what choices I’m given – but more often than not it’s that I feel like a three-year-old on the verge of a tantrum. I don’t want to have to do things all day long. I’m an adult. I want agency over my own life. For once I want it to be about me taking care of me.

So maybe my life really is like Groundhog Day, but in a good way, where – just like the movie – I realize everything I need to make myself happy, I already have. All it takes is a little change in perspective.

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