“You should have put your things down.” The weight of that statement haunted me as my three-year-old said it to me between the sound of tears, both hers and mine. As always, she is full of more wisdom than she ever realizes. Weight and heaviness have been a theme of what I’m feeling lately. Maybe it’s motherhood. Or pregnancy. Or traumatized teacher life (because I have started to feel like maybe all teachers are a little bit traumatized and they don’t even realize it). Or the combination of all of the above. But I have been feeling like I am carrying too much, and as my daughter pointed out, maybe it’s time to put my things down.

This morning as we were doing the morning shuffle to get out the door, I was feeling particularly rushed. The clock struck 7:20 and I knew we were going to be late. The goal is always to leave the house by 7:10 and at 7:20, she still didn’t have shoes on or wasn’t in her car seat. Typing this out right now it sounds ridiculous. Ten minutes? Is it really worth me stressing and obsessing over 10 minutes? When did my life become so chaotic and tunnel visiony (yes I make up words on occasion) that 10 minutes would be enough to put me in a mindless tizzy.

And so as I was carrying all of these things (both literally and metaphorically), my daughter went to climb into the car and I couldn’t react quickly enough to prevent the door from closing on her precious little finger. Immediately she burst out crying and so did I.

I cried because the thought of hurting the person I love most in this world pierced my heart. But I also cried for so much more. I cried from the exhaustion. And the overwhelm. And the stuff—all those things I should have put down.

You see, the night before I was feeling particularly low—after a 12-hour day from start to finish of the morning shuffle and work and the afternoon and nighttime shuffle and then finally craving some time to myself but being too exhausted to really enjoy it, I started to get philosophical. How had I gotten here? How had my life stopped reflecting my priorities? Was any of this really living? Surely there’s got to be more to life than this.

And then my three-year-old put it all into perspective. If I had put things down or let them go—if I had been more mindful. If I had prioritized and stopped sweating the small stuff, maybe that little accident wouldn’t have happened this morning.

Her simple statement taught me so much and has really made me reflect. What can I put down? Where can I prioritize and practice my mindfulness? And why do we have to wait for something to happen for us to make a change?

Jen Savage

Jen Iamele Savage is a transitional life coach and Montessori teacher. She entered the transformational world of parenthood in 2014 after a 32-hour labor with her daughter Mikayla. Since then, Jen has spent time exploring how motherhood has shaped her identity through writing and collaborating with other moms. She runs The Mindfull Mama Project, a space for mamas who want to reclaim their voices and uncover their purposes. Follow Jen at her blog, inspirationandbliss.com.