When the forecast calls for freezing temperatures, gray skies, and isolation, listen to your mom.
Years ago, I was staring listlessly out the window as a blizzard screamed beyond my cramped walls. My teething baby nursed crankily while my toddlers (who were burning up with cabin fever) stuck hundreds of colorful barrettes in my hair. My mom listened on the phone as I expressed my dire frustration: “I’m losing my mind!” I cried. Her reply was simple yet profound, and I’ve been drawing on this wisdom a lot lately:
“You don’t have to be amazing,” she said, “You just have to get through the day.”
Years later, that last part especially resounds, particularly when it’s frigid outside, “Just get through the day,” I mutter as I shovel the walkway for the millionth time.
“Just get through the day …” is my silent battle cry as I take two hours to bundle up kids to play in the snow, only for them to return in 20 minutes. And really, my mom’s advice could apply to anyone, anywhere, at any time of the year. But she dished it out in winter for good reason.
Essentially, my mother was telling me to be kind to myself. And St. Thomas Aquinas, a beloved doctor of the Church whose feast day we recently celebrated, would certainly agree. He once said:
“Well-ordered self love is right and natural … It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes … Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.”
Lately, I’ve taken this and my mom’s advice a step further, and broken down “the day” into specific tasks throughout the day: “Lord, please get me through making dinner,” and “My God, help me fill out this college application,” and most often: “Sweet Jesus, just get me to bedtime.”
And really, the thinking here is nothing new. It echoes the age-old adage to take life “one day at a time” as well as Matthew 6:34, “… today’s trouble is enough for today.”
But I needed this wisdom most of all right smack in the middle of winter.
So go ahead – try it out. I’m sure you’ll find that when you lower your expectations on yourself and others; when you recognize your weaknesses and pray more, asking for help to focus only on the specific task at hand until you get through it – you’ll be more relaxed and content; perhaps even kinder and more patient with the people around you, and that is nothing short of amazing.