A couple weeks ago, when I was still really sick and trying to juggle work and Owen’s 3 hour early release from school for parent-teacher conferences and errands and making sure we (and our house) was in some kind of shape for friends to visit us the following day.
When I’m stressed and tired, I’m snappish and yelly (yes, that’s a word. I just made it up) and grumpy and impatient. I feel almost claustrophobic in my tension, where all of my responsibilities crowd into my head and chest and are all talking and laughing in a loud voice, trying to get my attention all at once, and I often just want to run away to find wide open space.
But they’re great at tagging along wherever I go, and often if I DO escape and find a measure of space, it’s almost worse when I come back and they crowd right back into me again, like a bunch of annoying old relatives who don’t give a shit about much of anything except what they want.
So on this particular day, Owen and I were in the mudroom, preparing to get out and run errands.
(Something I will never understand, by the way: the physics of how a 50lb six-year-old can take up ALL OF THE SPACE on a bench in the mudroom, working to tie his shoes. Seriously, 6 feet of bench, and there is zero space for me to sit and tie my shoes. How does that even work? )
But since there’s no space for me on the bench, me and my responsibilities are stuck in a corner, trying to slip on my shoes and coat, and Owen is taking up a HUGE amount of space and energy, and he’s talking a mile a minute, and my To Dos are also talking and chattering, and I’m tired and sick and I just lay down on the couch under my heated blanket.
And then dog noses his way into the room, wagging and walking around and sticking his nose everywhere and crowding us both. Because we’re his pack and he loves us and he wants to go, too.
And since I can’t yell at the responsibilities which were making it hard to breathe, or Owen, who is exhausting in his own way, instead I yell at the dog, the poor dog, in frustration.
Just. Get OUT of here!
We are getting out of the car to head to the dry cleaner when Owen says this to me: I don’t like you as my mom sometimes. I like dad better. Because dad doesn’t yell the way you do.
He might not have used those exact words, but that’s what I heard.
I am a yeller. It’s just… well, me. And I am self-aware enough to know that I yell more when I feel there is a time crunch.
And I am in the Time Crunch Period of my life, where the responsibilities and To Dos crowd me out and there no space or time or energy to BREATHE, and things need to get done now or they quite literally won’t get done.
Well, that’s the way it FEELS, anyway.
And it’s SO hard to see or listen or hear when there’s a million things trying to get your attention.
But warring with this is the reminders of mortality: The sudden death of a relative of Jeff’s – one of the guys we thought would live forever. The small plane crash in Maryland that took the life of a mother and two young kids. The second anniversary of the day where 20 first graders went to school and didn’t come home.
I don’t want to live my life where I am be held prisoner to the responsibilities and To Dos.
Life is uncertain, and I DO need to figure out a way to find the space to live in the present. To BE present.
That’s what I really, really want for Christmas this year.