This weekend I washed a bag of hand-me-down clothes from my eldest to my youngest. In the bag was a linen suit for parties, functions, and events. I smiled because I took great pride in smartly dressing my eldest. But then it became a thing. I had to dress them in the smartest, best clothes that I could buy.
That was until my grandma died. I was pregnant, working and stressed at finding a smart suit for my eldest and for ease opted for a supermarket label shirt. I wrestled with myself over my child going to a funeral in a supermarket shirt. But then I realised it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter what we were wearing for my grandma’s funeral, it mattered that we were there. From that point on I’ve tried to dress both my kids in smart clothes but sometimes they don’t want to, and that’s OK because some things just don’t matter.
I’m a fan of naming things. I name things that don’t matter and tell myself that I can accept this thing and move on. The dishwasher being left unemptied for the morning doesn’t matter. Naming something and categorising it helps me move on.
Some things do matter. Saying please, thank you, manners, respect and crediting others for good work. These are my ethics, my values and my beliefs. These matter. That meeting my manager skipped because it didn’t matter to them, mattered to me because that’s where we share the good news. That thing matters. Ruminating on it won’t help but labelling it as something that matters helps me explain my point of view in an articulate, unemotional way.
Take a look at the things happening today that are irking you. Make a list. Which ones matter and which ones don’t? Label them, categorise them. Which ones can you move on from? Which ones can you move on from with help? What help do you need? Is it to be heard that these things matter? Will you then be able to move on?
Today’s list in my head:
- Team meeting someone spoke over a colleague
- Child’s birthday party overrunning
- My other half ironing their clothes ignoring the pile of kids’ clothes yet to be ironed.
Only number 1 matters, the others don’t matter and I have labelled them and will move on from them now I’ve written them here. Number 1 requires me to vocalise my frustration to my manager for me to be able to move on. It’s top of the list of things to do today.
For me, changing others is an impossible act that I have little interest in exploring. But I do need to be heard when things matter to me. When I cannot move on because something matters, I need to be able to articulate that and be heard before I can move on. And for those things that don’t matter, I label them as so and move on. Because some things do not matter.
Sammy White is a teaching and learning specialist at Texthelp an assistive technology company. Sammy is a former GCSE maths teacher with experience in secondary, alternative provisions, further education and adult education.