The honeymoon is over.
Morning, round I:
Today I awoke sad, and a bit preoccupied. It could have been the debate and underlying distress I feel for our nation, or it could have been the guilt I felt over a rushed bedtime the night before. Jet lag had caught up with me and I hadn’t been very patient or present at tuck-in time.
I very groggily shuffled into Max’s room and found my normally easy and responsible firstborn reluctant to get up and go to school. He said he had a stomachache. No signs of fever. No nausea. Shit! I Do I make him go? Do I chill out and cancel my almost confirmed lunch plans, mindfulness classes and appointment with Aurora? How do I know? I quit my ties to an institution-like job so I could be more available at times like these. I paced for a bit. I grabbed the thermometer as it can definitely help make decisions easier. The low numbers told me what I already knew. I rubbed his back and gently encouraged him to get up and get going, reminding him he was already going to miss school on Friday for a field trip. I hugged him and pulled him toward the edge of the bed; I swiveled his legs so that his feet came to the ground.
Once I had him standing, I went down stairs to clean up last night’s dishes, beating myself up along the way about how a good mom would know what to do, a good mom would probably give her hardworking kid a break when he says he has a stomachache, a good mom would more resolutely know what to do. I was loading the dishwasher while waffling back and forth, lamenting that I was so unsure when I had a sudden realization:
I am a good mom, and I had already MADE a decision.
I HAD in fact followed my gut when I pulled him out of bed!
Release of anxiety.
I had followed my gut and wasn’t even aware. What I was doing afterward was questioning, when really it was time to let go and trust. This wasn’t a matter of black or white / right or wrong / or good mom vs. bad mom. I had worked with the information I had: he had no fever, no nausea, and had played through basketball practice the night before with this very same pain. Plus, I had plans so today wasn’t a great mom-son day. I would now rest in my decision to send him to school, and I would re-evaluate if and when I got new information. As I was savoring my breakthrough and release of mama guilt he came down and requested oatmeal with the fixings.
Yes, sir. Gladly. (Smug look of “I’ve got this mom shit down” on my face).
Morning, round II:
After Max had loaded into carpool, I went back into the house and bribed the little boys to get out of bed with the promise of pancakes. My feeling of satisfaction had disappeared, replaced with distress about my to do list: confirm lunch plans, (but should I even be going? I still had to prep for my classes) get the house ready for Aurora (yes, I have a cleaning lady, and, yes, preparing for a cleaning lady to come is very time-consuming and frantic work!), make Ted’s lunch, write Gus’s lunch money check and get myself ready before said cleaning lady comes. I started down the familiar path of “what’s wrong with you? How can you be so calm and proclaim such happiness one day (moment) and then feel this panicked and frazzled the next?”
I was doing my typical circles in the kitchen, putting away one item, then getting it right back out again. I was not grounded or centered. “Just keep swimming” was the background music of my mind. I was also feeling underlying pressure to decide if I will teach a couple yoga classes at UNO in the Spring (translated loosely as what am I going to do with my life???) They want to know this week. What do I want? I need to sit with this. Maybe I should be sitting with it this morning? Man, there are so many decisions to make in real life, and so much to do to get out the door in the morning in the homeland. I grabbed the honey I had just put away AGAIN and remembered to to parent myself.
What does Katie need?
I need to acknowledge and accept how I’m feeling.
I said out loud, “Katie, honey, it’s okay. You’re panicking a bit, but it’s okay, you have time.”
Gus, hearing the “honey” and thinking I spoke to him, turned around and said, “do you think I’m panicking?” I looked at him writing calmly at the table I had just cleared with a crate full of writing supplies he had just lugged down the stairs.
“No, dear, I am feeling panicky and rushed and overwhelmed.”
The room seemed to sigh.
The second I said it out loud the pressure in the room seemed to shift. I had physically and emotionally ACCEPTED my feelings instead of battling them. I am me and I am feeling panicked. I am not my panic. I won’t feel panicked all day, but I can have my panic with me for a bit. This rushing around and crazy decision-making is a big change from the last eight days of my life. Upon hearing my words, my extremely sensitive Ted beamed a giant smile. It was like he felt my stress too, but he wasn’t aware of what it was exactly, so the second I said what I was feeling out loud, I not only released the hold my emotions had on me, but I released them for my super sensitive son too. He immediately became more helpful, picking up his oblivious younger brother’s shoes (not without commenting) and folding the blankets we’d left out after debate watching. I finished the dishes and tidying and glanced at the clock before heading upstairs to dress. Whoops, time to go.
We walked out the door, me pajama clad and them happy and excited for the day. The air was crisp and clean, and I noticed the three of us were joking on our walk. I was LAUGHING. Wow! What a circus of emotions I’d felt come and go in the course of 90 minutes. I fully appreciated experiencing in real life the phenomena I keep reading about in my Mindfulness studies:
Emotions loose their power and their hold on us when we acknowledge them.
Emotions last 90 seconds if we accept them rather than fighting them.
Whoa! Hell yeah! Quoting my Munich-bound husband, “can I get an Amen?”
Yep, vacation is over. My quest to live mindfully is now much more complicated, but I’ve learned the tools, and I’m ready to keep practicing.