“But right is not real, and should is a cage.” Glennon Doyle, Untamed

I lost my car keys. I don’t do things like that. Everything has a place and I always put things back in their place. I know where everything in our house is hiding. Ben and the kids lose their stuff. Not me.

I have a spare key for the car and the house, but that did not make it any better. My neck tightened and my jaw ached. I yelled at the kids and Ben all before 8 a.m.

The last time I remember having the keys in my hand was when when the kids and I got home from picking Ellie up from school the afternoon before. I was balancing babies, groceries, backpacks, water bottles and mail. I do this every day, but on this day Jack even noticed and said, “You have very full hands!” while I unlocked the front door.

Gus was the cardboard box car driver this day. I bet he was responsible enough to keep track of the keys.

I should have been paying more attention. I should have put the keys back where they belong first before I did anything else. I should have made more trips from the car to the house. I should slow down and watch what I am doing. I should have done better.

Should = inadequate. When I start using “should,” it’s my cue to start beating up on myself.

I always feel like I should be doing something. Last week, I stretched out on the couch to watch a movie with Jack and he asked me if I was sick because I never just lie on the couch. 

Playing with the kids in their rooms turns into cleaning out old toys or clothes that they have outgrown.  I pace around in a circle when we are playing outside. Nervous energy buzzes through me and I only feel better if do something.

I reach for my phone when I am waiting in a line or at a doctor’s office. Always planning, I keep lists of things I should do or buy – lists I dream up while I am telling myself that I am relaxing.

When I was a kid, I would watch my dad take work calls while we were driving somewhere or see him pull out his computer at home on the weekends. I remember thinking that one day I wanted to be needed like that.

Lately, by the end of the day I am completely over hearing Jack ask me to look at one more thing. All day long, he interrupts me when I am busy around the house, texting on my phone, working on the computer, feeding the baby or cooking in the kitchen. Even when I am driving, he wants me to turn around and “look at this.”

I get annoyed with him but then feel bad for being annoyed. Typical cycle. When I step back, I realize that I have been saying “Just one more minute” or “Hang on, let me finish this first” or “I can’t play, I have to X” a whole lot. I am annoying him by putting him off for what I think I should be doing which causes him to keep vying for my attention.   

After I got Ellie dressed for school the other morning, she headed to the den to find her daddy. She would take a few steps and then fall down. Take a few steps. Fall down. The problem was, she was walking too fast for her level of control and balance.

She got frustrated each time she fell and eventually she just laid face down on the floor and started to cry. I picked her up for a hug and a chance to reset. “It’s easy for everyone to lose their balance when they are moving too fast,” I told her.  

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