I was at a back to school party for my HIGH SCHOOLER this past weekend and heard something absolutely brilliant.  A friend of mine said, “I have come to find that people care about a lot of things.”  And, they do.  People care about the color of a classroom.  They care about the type of car they drive.  They care about the HOA covenants of their neighborhood. They care about what kids in America eat.  They care whether using sunscreen is a life saver or toxic. They care about what games are played at the second grade holiday party.  They care what the party that happens close to the holiday of Christmas is called.

This tendency people have toward caring about things causes problems for me.  If I care about something that someone else does and it is not going the way that person or I want it to be, we end up in a bitching session…  not fixing anything, just complaining about it. That in itself I problematic, but not so much as the opposite.  If I don’t care about something as passionately as someone else does then the little voices in my head start talking. 

“I really don’t give a rats butt if the party that is held near Christmas is not called a Christmas party. Should I?  What does that say about me spiritually?  I should probably go back to church?  At least I should have a ‘quiet time’ every morning…  I should really get up earlier.  Probably I should help plan this party, because what kind of mom am I if I really would rather not even send my child to school on the half day when that party happens and start our ‘winter break’ early…  or should it be called Christmas break???  Maybe I should write an email to the administrator and tell him that really that break that we take from school where Christmas happens should go back to being called ‘Christmas break.”’  

SO, then I have to go back through all the thoughts and sort them out.  I really don’t care about the name of the party or the vacation from school.  I am quite content in the state of my spiritual life.  I LIKE to sleep until the last possible minute to get my kids out of the house in a reasonable fashion.  I don’t like classroom parties or planning them.  I don’t like chaos.  I have enough of it in my own home.  And if I decide to take my child out of school for a half a day when there is no instructional time happening anyway, well, that is my damn decision.  I will live with the consequences of that decision.

And now I am exhausted.  I should have shut the voices down immediately.  I know I cannot be the only one with this problem.

Now I am learning how to do this sorting out thing.  I have to sort out the information that is flooding my brain and decide what is read.  To do this I list out my priorities and decide, each time the brain starts to reel, if what I am having angst about has the first bearing on my list.  Usually, I will find that it does not.  After 45 years of life, almost 15 of which have been spent parenting, my priorities are pretty well set.  I just need to take them seriously and not try to take on everyone else’s priorities as my own. I already am doing what fits for us…  more importantly, for ME.  

Its okay not to do it all.  It is okay to say no.  I don’t have to care about EVERYTHING. And, you know what? What I DO and how many things are on my “to do” list are pretty low on the list of what people care about when they think about me.  And, if they do?  Do they need to be in my life?  That is their circus…  their monkeys.  It is MY job to make MY life what it is supposed to be.   Sorry if my priorities and yours don’t coincide.

If you are struggling with this…  if you find yourself caring about everything or wondering if you should be.  If it is keeping you from peace in your heart and mind, I encourage you to slow your thoughts down.  When you find yourself experiencing angst about something, ask yourself if that thing that you are caring about (or contemplating caring about, or wondering why you don’t care about it) is significant to the priorities you have set for your life.  Does caring about it make you a better parent?  A better spouse? A better daughter or son or sibling? A better room mom?  A better club leader? A better employee or boss? Will caring about it lead to performing that role better?  If it won’t, toss it aside.  I promise the people in your life that care about YOU won’t care.  They want you to be the best that you can be at what you WANT to be.  When what we care about aligns with what our priorities are, life moves much more smoothly.  We only get one of those.  With all the turns that it throws us, those turns are much easier to take when all the BS is out of our heads.