Last week I visited family in the Midwest; it was a lovely time. I didn’t write while I was there and think the break was good. Now sitting here at my computer — I’m feeling the words coming.
I took a bathroom stop before writing this post, and it reminded me of the importance of starting with the little things if I want to change something bigger. My current little thing: closing the bathroom door at home.
The backstory is that especially since having kids, I’ve become lax about shutting the bathroom door when I stop in. When home alone with them, I’ve wanted to make sure I could hear them (in case anything happened in the few minutes I was out of the room, which sometimes does), plus it always seemed someone was barging in anyway. So I’d leave the door open.
It struck me recently that my personal space boundaries could use some work. I’ve been seeing more and more where I’m doing stuff because I’ve “always done it that way” or think I “should” or it’s just what my family did or something else in that vein. Not necessarily bad or wrong — some of the stuff I’ve done/learned is helpful to me — though other stuff is mindless and not so helpful. The kicker: I’ve thought (for a variety of reasons) that I had to do it however I was doing it and that it wasn’t okay for me to change or do what I wanted. This is an old and rather crappy story I’m seeing snaking through my life — and I don’t like it. So, I’ve been pondering on what I might want and/or how I might want to do things differently.
As I’ve been pondering, I see that some of the things that may need a change feel scary and overwhelming. While I know some of what I’m doing and saying “yes” to isn’t working and leaves me feeling yucky, it feels incredibly uncomfortable to do something different. Some of the big stuff — I don’t feel ready or strong enough yet to change. (And I probably am, but it feels hard right now.)
So in the spirit of being kind to myself, I’m starting with something smaller. And that smaller thing is closing the bathroom door (plus asking my kids to knock and wait for a response before just opening the door).
It’s kind of funny — while a small thing, it’s rather symbolic. For me, closing the door says I’m worthy of privacy, peace and quiet, and some alone time. It says I can trust others to take care of themselves, and that I’m not responsible for taking care of the world. (And, I see, that it’s modeling the same for my kids.)
In some ways, it’s been harder than I’d expect to shut the door. I start to forget a lot, though I’m getting better at remembering before sitting down. And it’s kind of funny — the remembering to shut the door feels better than I would have expected and means more to me than I’d think closing a door would.
If I want to change the bigger stuff, I’ve got to start with the small stuff. After all, isn’t the big stuff just lots of small stuff added together?
I’m working on the small stuff, starting with the bathroom door.