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Why I’ll Never Take The Mundane For Granted

Why I'll Never Take The Mundane For Granted | Annie Wright, LMFT | www.anniewright.com

I’ll never take the mundane for granted.

A week ago was the open enrollment period for benefits at the therapy center I own here in Berkeley. 

I sent an email out to my staff letting them know about the week-long enrollment window and also about how I’d expanded benefits this year to include coverage for dependents on our medical, vision, and dental plans.

Why I'll Never Take The Mundane For Granted | Annie Wright, LMFT | www.anniewright.com

Why I’ll Never Take The Mundane For Granted

That same week I spent my lunch break gathering documents for my financial planner to help assess how much long-term disability insurance coverage I need to apply for and how much more per month I can now allocate to my daughter’s 529 plan and to our retirement accounts. 

I completed the intake paperwork for my daughter’s new preschool, found new dentists for all of us, and confirmed our benefits with customer service.

It was a week of full-on adulting and, if I’m being honest, there were a few moments when I felt overwhelmed by it all.

Negotiating with benefits brokers, gathering medical and tax records, trying to decipher insurance paperwork legalese…

But even in the midst of the overwhelm, I felt proud of myself and, actually, so grateful for the mundanity of it all.

For me, what might be viewed as mundane is actually a powerful reparative experience given my personal relational trauma background.

In today’s essay, I explain what made this reparative and more about why I’ll never take the mundane for granted.

Why I’ll never take the mundane for granted.

There was nothing “special,” flashy, or exciting about any of the tasks I completed the other week.

There’s also not anything particularly “special,” exciting, or flashy about the sum of my tasks and to-dos on any given day or week.

Load and unload the dishwasher.

Gather the laundry, wash the laundry, fold the laundry.

Batch cook meals in the Instapot and meal prep for the week.

Book medical appointments, refill the vitamin containers, pay the bills, set up socially distanced playdates.

Go to work (which I love), save money to support our long-term planning goals.

Exercise, (mostly) eat healthy, etc.

Again, nothing flashy. Nothing extraordinary.

There are probably a few billion people on the planet who have somewhat similar daily and weekly lists.

There is nothing particularly special – as some might define it – in what I do. 

But the mundane, the ordinary, is special for me given where I come from.

I come from a relational trauma background where there was psychological pain and often logistical and financial chaos while growing up.

We didn’t have health insurance (though my mom made sure we had medical care when needed). 

There were homemade lunches and some saved money – but that money didn’t go to a down payment or retirement investments or 529’s.

Jobs were worked but no financial security was built. 

There was employment, but no business ownership and no job creation for others.

There was no working with a financial planner, accountant, and attorneys to lay good, sound legal, and financial futures.

One parent was doing their best, and one parent creating a tornado of psychological, financial, and logistical chaos in their wake no matter who and what they encountered.

In my first eighteen years, the things many of us gripe about as the mundanity of adulting didn’t exist or existed in some tumultuous, porous way.

Now, as a 38-year-old woman who runs her own company that employs 12 W-2 employees, who creates jobs and offers benefits to others, as someone who doesn’t often buy new clothes so I can hit our family’s savings goals, to an outsider, my life might look like a big slog of drudgery and routine.

But for me the mundane is reparative

The regular routines of life and the ordinary of adulting are reparative because I’m doing for myself and my little family what was not done (or done well) for me.

Each month when the money flows to my 401K and gets debited from my paycheck to build my daughter’s 529, a small part of me wishes there were more sushi dinners in my life. 

But a greater part of me deeply respects my discipline, ability to account for, and responsibly take care of my future and my family’s future.

Being a mostly good, responsible, and reliable adult – after the chaos, tumult, insecurity, and abuse of my childhood – is a profoundly reparative experience for my adult self and my child self.

Obviously, I’m not a financial planner and I’d never dare to tell others what to do with their money and household logistics – that’s not the point of this essay.

The point of this essay is, rather, to offer up a reframe on what can so often feel like the ordinary drudgery, the everyday mundanity of life.

I want to suggest that – far from being ordinary and mundane – that every day, every week choices are particularly important if you – like me – come from a relational trauma background where adult responsibilities (be it emotional, logistical, or financial) were sorely, detrimentally, lacking.

If you, like I, come from a relational trauma background, I want to invite you to consider that part of your healing, part of overcoming your painful past may not just happen in the therapy room.

It may also happen every time you meal prep nutritious food for you and your family. 

It may also happen each time you brown-bag your lunch and sock that money saved into an IRA.

It may also happen on your lunch break while you nibble your sandwich while on hold with your benefits administrator to get an accurate snapshot of the copay for your child’s upcoming procedure.

It may also happen when you build your earthquake kit, stock the cars with first aid kits, book and attend your regular medical and dental appointments.

In the dozens, hundreds, and thousands of adulting moments where you work to create security, responsibility, stability, and safety for you and those you love, I want to suggest that these moments are anything but mundane. 

These moments are reparative and potentially transformational, especially when you come from a background of chaos, neglect, or abuse.

Sit with this reframe and try it on the next time you feel overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or bored by the adulting in front of you. 

See how embracing this reframe shifts your emotional experience of the task at hand. 

See how this strengthens your regard for yourself and who you have become despite where you started.

And please, if you feel so inclined, please leave me a message in the comments below to let me know what “mundane” adulting task has felt reparative and healing to you lately.

And, until next time, please take such good care of yourself. You’re so worth it.

Warmly, Annie

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  1. Kimberly D Walker on  

    I too was raised like this. So many things that people normally take for granted are a treasure to me. I was raised in a hoarder’s home and it makes me feel like I have conquered the world when my kitchen and dining room is clean, when my house is neat and tidy, when we can sit down at the table to eat a meal and know that nothing is going to run across the table during our meal.

    These are things I have tried to explain to my husband, who doesn’t understand my trauma (or my feeling of wonder when I do these things), but he supports me in continuing to work with my mental health counselor.

    I love the series that you do. You are often the reason I am able to get up and do things when I am feeling “I am being my Mom” which is something I never want to become.

    Thank you for all you do. Please keep doing your healing work to help others heal and repair. If there is a book you have published, I would love to know the name of of it so I could buy it. Thank you again!

  2. April on  

    This has blown my mind, in a motivational way. You see I didn’t grow up with the financial security. We had what we needed but not much more. And I struggle with that in my own life, in creating that financial security. This gives me a mindshift and has helped me to see that choosing to save that $10 instead of having take away, is creating my own and my child’s financial security ❤️❤️❤️

    • Annie on  

      Hi April, I’m so pleased to hear that this post resonated with you. Our thoughts are powerful, and your efforts in re-framing yours are truly inspiring, as well as all the work you’re doing to create something different for you and your child. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment, April. Warmly, Annie.

  3. Ami on  

    Hi Annie! 🙂

    It feels like I’ve been reading your blog for most of my adulthood… I’m 28 now, and remember signing up for your newsletter while I was in university (or college, I think you call it in America!).

    I never quite know what to write in your comments, but just wanted to say that I thought this post was very sweet, and made me look back in gratitude at all the ‘adulting’ purchases I made for myself this week.

    A pair of sensible trainers (I think you guys call these ‘sneakers’); a new work skirt as I prepare for a new position I’ll be starting soon; a protective case for an electronic item I was worried I’d break, after saving for it the previous year (and timing my savings so I’d reach the target number on my birthday – I was so proud of myself!).

    I often feel very silly feeling proud of myself for doing these things, especially as I get older and come to terms with being a “proper adult”. But after recognising how much neglect was present in my childhood through therapy, I have tried to allow myself to celebrate those positive feelings more – even if only with myself, haha.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful resource Annie, and I agree with the commenter above – I would love to show my gratitude for your newsletter by purchasing your book, should you ever choose to write one. 🙂

    • Annie on  

      Hi Ami, thank you so much for being a long-time reader of my blog and for allowing me to be part of your healing journey. Huge congratulations on your new position! Thank you for taking the time to comment and sharing your own adulting actions with me. Sensible sneakers, protecting purchases, practicing being a “proper adult” – it all adds up to a responsible and also reparative life. You’re doing an incredible job, and I hope you can continue to celebrate those actions you take. I’m truly grateful to be a part of your adulthood and journey and will absolutely let you know when I write that book! Warmly, Annie.

  4. Leane on  

    I tend to have the opposite reaction. My mother was/is a narcissist and she never took us anywhere or did anything fun with us. She was/is very fearful d always worries about something bad happening. So I was isolated and home was very boring. I tend to need a variety of experiences and adventures in my life. I enjoy my home and routine but I also need to take trips and do a variety of interesting things to be happy.

    • Annie on  

      Hi Leane, I really appreciate what you shared and I think that a *balance* between routine and stability and fun and excitement is actually what most of us need to thrive. I make sure there are line items in my family’s budget for memberships and ticket costs to fun, new things *and* I try to make sure we have all our responsible, adult things in place, too. I think it’s wonderful that you’re giving yourself what wasn’t given to you and I truly hope that feels reparative for you. Warmly, Annie.

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