As I reflect on what this blog has brought forth thus far, discussing, writing, feeling and ultimately ending 2 major eras in my life, I try and envision which of those 28 drafts I’d like to proceed with next. 28 arrows, all pointing to different directions and I keep getting a ‘hold’ sign. So, welcome to draft #29! Some have nothing but a title, some are started, and some are a hodge podge – but none seem to be flowing or coming together. Some call it ‘writers block’ but I keep getting this ‘not yet’ feeling – on all 28 of em! here I sit in front of a blank piece paper to see where #29 will lead me!
We’re currently on summer break and it’s a toss up around our house as to who is generally more ready for this break, my daughter or myself! By May, I’m just as checked out, (if not more checked out) of the school jazz as she is. It’s as if since the dust of another school year has settled, I’m just an observer of life, my own as well as others – just reflecting on what has come and went. I look at my daughter has who has ‘graduated’ or ‘survived’ another year of middle school. And I think, did I enjoy it? So many of those days were mundane with repetition, of constantly reminding, (more like barking) “Come on, hurry up, get your math out” just to say “uh, you’ll have to wait until I can sit down and look at it with you” (as it turns out – I’m not smarter then a 5th grader, especially in Math!) “Hurry up and eat – you have basketball practice, did you get your reading done?” “Get in the shower – you need to get to bed!” Just so we can wake up and do this all over again, aren’t you so excited – because I sure know I am! 😉 All the while I’m secretly counting down the days until MEA, then Christmas break, then Easter break, then finallyyyyyy summer! I get this picture of waiting in a long check out line, while the cashier keeps yelling ‘NEXT!’ What’s ‘next’ on the list? Which subject, which meeting, which sporting event and where, which conference, which family get together? NEEEEEXT PLEASE!
Now we’re able to just sit back and relax, and actually enjoy each other and life before we head into what I’m sure will be even busier years ahead! There’s this part of me that’s always trying to figure how to simplify it – putting it into action seems to be the struggle! Instead of literally checking the days off the calendar, always thinking (and sometimes telling her)’just make it till Friday or it’s OK, 2 weeks left till break, just get through it’. I attempt to just pause in the midst of the insanity to just look at her while she’s eating or sleeping – just to make a mental note. But there are times even when I do, that I feel as if I can’t totally enjoy it without another app in the back of my mind reminding me that the dishes need to be done. Then, we make it to summer break with a sigh of relief and I find myself reflecting, thinking next year, I’m not going to push as much, I’m not going to make a big deal out of that Math test or whether she meets standardized testing scores. I’m not going to hint that maybe trying another sport wouldn’t hurt, or that she needs to have her head in the game when she’s on the court. These are things we’ve all been engrained to think are important. That without tip top grades, an ‘above standards’ on testing or trophies while being in multiple sporting events, we’re no one. Without a tightly wound schedule, an electronic device within arms reach or a sleep over, we simply don’t fit in. How often do we say ‘no’ to the chaos just to teach them a new board game, veg out together or go for a hike or bike ride and have ‘those’ important conversations in the silence?
Instead we wait – we wait for another break, for a different weekend that maybe there won’t be 100 things going on, or they won’t want friends over. We wait until they’re a little bigger to do this activity, until they’re a little older to have this conversation. And all this waiting leads to another season passed, another week that we ‘survived’, another school year gone. Always waiting for another time, a better day, when life ‘slows’ down. And yet we never allow it, or force it to slow down, perhaps because we don’t want it too? Perhaps when it slows, things come into focus and what if those ‘things’ aren’t all that pretty when in focus? What if when we slow down we’re forced to come to terms with the fact that we’ve aged, our kids are growing too quickly, our parents aren’t as mobile as they were before, our marriage isn’t what it used to be – then what?
I spent so much time engulfed in hurt, anger and drama. I look back at those years and think – God did I enjoy any of it? Did I appreciate it, was I grateful? Did I stop to pay attention to the simple things? Did I ever stop to watch the sunset in complete silence, without getting out my phone to take a picture of it? Did I say ‘thank you for this moment and view?’ Did I allow my mind to shut off or declutter a little every day? Did I stop and look around – really look around? That’s one thing I’ve noticed more then anything this spring – I swear the grass has never been as green as it has this year! I swear the fields never looked so nice and the contrast of the brown and the green wasn’t as prevalent. I swear the sky has never been so blue or the clouds so white and fluffy. I swear I’ve never seen a storm come in with such darkness against the blue like that! I swear I’ve never pointed out as many sunrises and sunsets to my daughter as I have in the past year, to the point there are days she notices them before I do. And then I think – I’m sure the grass has always been that green, the sky always that blue, the fields always so nicely planted – I’ve just never taken the time to notice.
We’re all so caught up in the noise and the static of the daily hustle and bustle, consumed in it, really – rarely pausing, let alone stopping to look around. Meeting the demands of work, school, parents, spouses, children, deadlines, a schedule, always running – never stopping to just take it all in. Not showing our kids what that looks like – to breathe – to look up – to just sit in the silence – to learn contentment in the basics of everyday life. It’s a disappointment that it takes a ‘vacation’ to sit in these simple reminders. I get frustrated that it takes these moments of reflection, or slowing down of ‘we made it, because we had to wish it away’ to be reminded of how often I don’t exercise it in my daily life, during the hustle and bustle. After Josie I swore that was all going to change – I swore it was going to slow down and I was going to learn to do it differently, because I was never going to live with regret like that again. Not towards another, nor towards my own life. And here I sit – trying to figure out how to mesh it all together – slow it down – appreciate it – be it – love it – balance it. So it doesn’t take a vacation , diagnosis or tragedy to have to reflect on another year gone. When I find it I’ll let you know, for I know that I will with time – and for anyone who already has – I’m open to pointers for a faster route to get there 😉
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