Here’s the short version on last week: it was going to be swell. It was going to be great. I was going to have the whole world on a plate (sorry, I’m a sucker for musicals). Plans changed. It all turned out okay. I think it did.
Now before you think it was anything serious, let me reassure you that nothing significant happened. The problem was of a first-world nature and even more of a person who is lucky enough to have such a “problem.” Here’s a day-to-day explanation so you can get the gist.
Monday, Labor Day. Spectacularly gorgeous day. The sapphire-blue sky kind of day that you live for out here, forecasted to happen each day this week. Somehow, everything looks better – the same buildings, the landmarks, the people, my attitude – it all looks better. I remind myself that this is the same backdrop that is often veiled in cool grey mist, the one that sometimes bums me out for not looking like it does today. I decide two things today: 1. that I need to remember this insight when the weather changes and 2. (and I’m really excited about this) I will take a little at-home vacation this week. I will allow myself sans guilt to enjoy these next four sun-filled days. I will dust off my bike and take it for its inaugural island run. I will take hikes with Sally; long ones. I will rent a kayak and spend a few hours paddling around the harbor. I will take photos! I might even take one of those with my feet in the shot, propped up on the side of the kayak. It will be great! I deserve this! I really really won’t feel guilty. I promise.
Tuesday. I send off The Bug to school and decide that despite the fact that today is one of the forecasted gorgeous days, I will use this one to get things done. How could I really enjoy myself anyway if I have chores looming over me? I grocery shop. I dust. I change sheets, do laundry, walk (not hike with) Sally. Tomorrow’s going to be great, though.
Same day – later that afternoon. I pick up The Bug at the bus stop. By the time we walk from the stop to our house, she tells me that the back of her throat feels kind of funny when she coughs. Within and hour she has a bit of a barking croup-like cough.
Wednesday. The Bug and I stay home because she’s sick. We made it through the night without croup (phew), but she sounds kind of crummy. It wouldn’t be so bad if she were just home with me – we could still go to the park, go to the beach, take a little bike ride or something…anything. Instead, we’re homebound. I do get some gardening done while my little sick peanut stays inside thumbing through books. The first time I get out of our house/yard/driveway is that evening once she’s already in bed.
Thursday. The Bug had sounded so much better last night that I thought she might be going to school today. Her cough sounds a little barky in the morning (and now I have awakened her at school time, so she’s cough-y and up early) so I decide to keep her home another day. Just like yesterday, she has tons of energy, though, so there are a lot of what are we going to do today? questions. We at least get out for a calm walk with Sally so both of the girls can get some fresh air and a little exercise. The week is almost over and I haven’t done one thing I set out to do for my week of indulgent outdoor fun.
Friday. The Bug is feeling great and sounds a lot better. She is super-excited to go to school. The day is looking up! It is forecasted to be the hottest of the week (around 85 degrees which is HOT for here) and after an exhausting week/weekend in which he had to work until 1-2 a.m. each night, The Hubby has decided to work from home and to take a couple hours off in the afternoon. I am going to have a kayak partner! I have a daytime date with my husband!
Friday Afternoon. After a nice long walk with Sally at our favorite park, I return to pick up The Hubby and head to the harbor to rent a kayak. We have just enough time to take care of the rental, go out for an hour or so, and then be back at the bus stop to pick up the little one. We’re psyched; we’re jazzed. We never see one another alone like this during daylight hours. I think I have made peace with the fact that the week didn’t go anything like I had planned. After all, I got outside each day, I soaked up some sun, and appreciated (more or less). And now, the coup de grace, I get to kayak with someone, my favorite adult someone. Life is good.
Life is good until you get to the kayak dock and the guy tells you that despite the fact that no one is currently there, all of the kayaks are currently spoken for until 3:30, which is after we would have to pick up The Bug.
Insert the wa-wa-waaaaa deflating sound of “you lose” for the week of fun that never was.
Being a black belt in introspection, I of course held up this week to my normal level of naval-gazing scrutiny. There are the obvious lessons (cliches, even) learned from this cautionary tale. There’s the carpe diem one from that first day. I never should have ‘wasted’ that day cleaning, prepping, gearing up for what I assumed would inevitably follow. I am guilty of this multiple times over. I always get my ducks in a row before allowing myself any kind of pleasure.
Then there was the one about the best laid plans whose current ran through the rest of the week. I was constantly reforming my expectations and trying to let go of what I thought this week should be. For a good girl who has always played by the rules, the should thing is a big theme in my life.
What I am really thinking about in hindsight, though, is more around the grass is greener cliche. I have placed this mental stumbling black in my own way for as long as I can remember. What I would love to take away from this week is more around the notion that things were already great before I decided they had to be awesome. There’s a little bit of accepting what is lurking here, but before that even happens, what I am hoping to address is the idea that I needed this week to become a better version of me. Yes, there is the obvious “mom could use a day or two to herself” need, and I’m not trying to be a martyr here – I do get out by myself and I have learned (the hard way) that self care as a parent is a top priority need, not a luxury. This is more about a judgment that things would be better if…
I’m reading a great book right now about how potent our thoughts are in telling us the story of what is happening. As the Buddhist philosophy teaches (and I’m paraphrasing), things just are – life just is. Our thoughts about life are what create the story that often bring us great suffering, depending on the tale we tell ourselves. I worked on these thoughts this past week and thankfully because I happened to be reading this book, (which wasn’t Buddhist, but borrowed from this philosophy), I was able to see that I had a choice in how I could see what might otherwise seem like a disappointing situation. I will admit, I did pretty well, but I think part of it was because the weather was so darned nice outside. Had crummy weather been thrown into the mix, the scales may have tipped and I may have been a bitter wallowing angry woman by the end of the week.
The stakes were really low on this exercise, I know this. I’m trying to build up this particular muscle, though, and this was a rather benign way to do it. Challenging my thoughts when something bigger comes up – a serious illness, a major disappointment, a loss, will be much more difficult. I’m embarrassed to admit that so much of my day is in resistance to what is – is at the mercy of circumstance and not cognizant of the fact that circumstance is life, not my cleaned up mental vision of what it should be.
I have no photos of my feet propped up on a kayak, although on Saturday all three of us made it out on the water for a little bit. It wasn’t what I had imagined, but it was at least as lovely as my envisioned solo trek. I do have this self-photo I took of The Hubby and me on our supposed kayak day, taken in the way that we used to always snap photos of ourselves when it was just the two of us:
I like the halo of sun rays around our heads. It’s probably just a bad byproduct of poor phototaking skills. Or maybe it’s just exactly the way it’s supposed to be. Or that it just is.
See? I’m working on it.