birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Why Sweat It?

Small thing reminds me of the book Don’t Sweat the Small Things.

As a young mother I purchased that book for myself as I felt I sweated about everything. Being a stay at home mom made it worse as I thought I should have a perfectly clean house, home cooked dinners every night, making sure our daughters were involved in activities and being there for my husband, without ever taking a day off for me.

I read the book. Although some of it had an impact on me, my idea of what needed to be done would not let me be as cool as a cucumber.

One of the funniest small things that happened was when the girls were around 3 & 5 my husband decided we needed someone to clean our house. He complained how dirty and messy it was. I will admit, there were piles of paper here and there but, it was not dirty. At first I took offense. Then secretly inside I was jumping for joy thinking I finally would be cleaning my last toilet.

The cleaning lady arrived. She looked around the kitchen and asked to take a walk through the rest of the house. Once done she looked my husband squarely in the eyes and asked; where is it that you need a cleaning lady for? She proceeded to say when she gets called in it’s because a house is so dirty. She agreed there were some papers that needed to be gone through but could not understand why he had called her. She didn’t mince words but told him our house was pretty immaculate. I almost died. I wanted to strangle her. My opportunity to ever have a cleaning lady vanished. My husband never spoke about the cleanliness of the house ever again. Yes, I’m still cleaning the toilets!

I truly didn’t learn the meaning of not worrying about the small things until my husband died. Left with having to make so many decisions, I quickly learned there were only three things I could truly worry about, our daughters, our finances and my extended family. I do not have the energy or the time to worry about all the small things that life hands us on a daily basis.

The ability to prioritize came easily. I took care of what presented itself that day. It might not have been what I planned to do, but my life was no longer the same. There’s nothing like having everything dropped on your shoulders to make you not sweat the small things and to not procrastinate.

Last night at dinner I was asked how I manage to get my to do list things done in one day. I don’t. I have an idea of what I would like to accomplish. Some days I get everything done, others I’m lucky I get one thing finished. A to do list is just that, a list. In the bigger picture, it’s a small thing. I don’t let a list come between things I think I have to do, like pick up laundry, and things I want to do, such as accepting a lunch invitation. There’s always tomorrow. And if tomorrow doesn’t come, I won’t need to worry about whether I did it or not.

Why is it that a book had to be written about not sweating the small things? Why is it that we ourselves don’t understand that there are very few things we should let upset our day?

It’s been an interesting journey not worrying about the small things. By shifting my thinking, I began feeling more positive. Which led me to realize that no one can truly make you happy, they can add to your happiness, but being truly happy comes from within you. If you can switch your thinking to only worrying about the big things, and let go of the every day small things, wonderful things do begin to happen in your life.

As our daughter’s grew and began making their life choices, the hardest lesson I had to learn was to keep my mouth shut, especially about the small things. I decided that the arguments weren’t worth it. I now will say things once. If they choose to listen to my mature wisdom, fine if not, that’s fine too. There’s a reason why parents have mature wisdom, it called having been through it. Maybe not in the same fashion, but maturity brings with it a wisdom to not sweat the small things.

Many of us with young adult children just shake our heads, as we figure this is what our parents were doing when we were that age. We turned out okay, we know they will too. It’s just from experience you want to help them not feel the ouch of the small things. As life is too short to sweat the small things.

All in the Family