Handing over my expectations about this summer has been excruciating.
After the most challenging school-year to date, as far as my schedule goes, I think I was looking forward to the break even more than my children were. I was planning on leisurely mornings, afternoons in the pool, day trips and loads of fun.
And we’re not having any. And under no circumstances do I over-generalize. Ever.
I’m running people from swim class to physical therapy to ball practice. In my spare time I fit in three grocery trips per week, pick up necessities for our upcoming trip, do a little thing called work and attend the occasional meeting. I go to baseball games, wipe dirt off my floor and try, at the very least, to keep the underwear clean.
The calendar is a blurry rainbow of fine point Crayola markers and it looks like we’re going to be adding another foot procedure before Ukraine. I’m not even going to mention 4-H.
I told myself all year that I just had to get through May and then there would be a let-up. That amid preparation to travel over-seas, our days would be full of leisurely mornings and afternoons baking….poolside. (collective eye-roll at the absurdity)
My expectations have been blown up by bullets of necessity and landmines of real life. And I’m locked down in survival mode again. But this time with the realization that it is called….drumroll please……life. I have this little itty bitty flare for the dramatic and I really wish there were something more glamorous to call it, but it’s just….life.
For the love of all things sensational, can it have a more exotic name?
I just finished reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. He writes as the devil’s advocate, Screwtape, an experienced demon of deception giving advice to his nephew, Wormwood, a deceiver in-training.
Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him (man) into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor, or the friends’ talkative wife, that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for him. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen.
The lie of “my own time” is expensive. I’ve paid a high price for it and have planted myself proudly on the foundation of my expectations. My rights, my time, my peace, my silence, my days.
Breaking up that foundation is excruciating work. One day I easily ride the flow of broken a/c and forgotten meetings. The next, I wake to an unplanned procedure, unexpected errands and immediately send out engraved invitations to my pity party.
A lifetime of unrealistic expectations can’t be reformed over-night or even over-year. It takes moment-to-moment truth-telling both to myself and to others. It’s a redirection of my mind and my focus and my actions.
Remember when I cleared the stage last week?
Kind of like that.
This isn’t a clearing of the stage, but a filling of the calendar. Lining up my minutes and weeks and days on my highway calendar and my oversized box calendar on the fridge and the one on my teeny tiny phone screen.
It’s the stacking and layering and cramming of the activities, emotional needs and physical assessments of my family intermingled with glimpses of rest and moments of peace on the clear stage of my soul.
I long for moments of quiet and rest and then don’t know what to do when I find them. I walk around my house feeling guilty that I’m not doing something productive. I putter and pick up so I can enjoy the order and by the time it meets my standards the kids have returned.
Like having a life-long dream to go to Italy. You’ve planned for the time off, saved for the trip, and boarded the plane, but land without hotel reservations, credit cards or a guide. Slightly foolish.
It feels like a full-time job to be present-enough to notice the moments, humble enough to be thankful for them and wise enough to enjoy them. To realize that life is about balance, and to live it fully means to accept the dull with the deafening, the finished with the frenetic.
This is hard stuff for me. I’ve struggled with being grateful for small moments for absolutely ever.
Today, there’s no quick fix or neat conclusion. No smile with a sigh. I’ll close the computer and pick up the phone and try to wrangle an appointment that undoubtedly will be at 3:30 this afternoon. The middle of a prime pool day.
The likely outcome of that call will be another minor procedure which will require that I put my expectations for my husband’s five days off on the altar of real life vs. fantasy vacation and dig deep to find a nurturing presence that equals the temperament of Florence Nightingale.
Later this morning, I’ll attend the funeral of a friend’s 12 year old and cry out my confession of utter selfishness mingled with a broken heart for my friends’ profound loss. There aren’t adequate words. Her life has been irrevocably changed. My minor inconveniences are yanked into perspective.
“My life” is an expensive lie that robs me of life. I’m determined to tell the truth, determined to embrace the balance, determined to enjoy real life.
Is there anything that you’re determined to enjoy this summer? Could you let us in on the fun and reply below?
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