R and I had an incredibly full and beautiful weekend together. We spent a pristine Saturday morning at the beach. The babies played while the adults took turns surfing. The conditions were perfect. Small, friendly waves. Bright sun. Pleasantly warm, but not hot. R palled around with his equally blond comrade, playing in the sand, driving trucks and throwing rocks. We got home and he napped, right on schedule. My good friend joined me to help make a birthday cake for him. We chattered about cancer and dating and church and family—all things we have in common—and baked. Then we ventured out to R’s birthday party. The evening was filled with kid laughter and entertaining parent conversation.
We got home and felt exhausted in the best way. I was sure R would sleep well. My mistake! We were up between 1:30 and 3:00am. I’m still not sure why. Even so, at 5:30am, when River started kicking me, by this point occupying the center of my bed, I decided to keep my plan to take him to Disneyland. We got ready and made the drive to the Magic Kingdom. I am very practiced at living my life with low expectations and, this was no exception. I told myself, if things fell apart by nap time, we would simply get in the car and go home.
We got our lose-your-shit moment out of the way early, with the first visit to the toilet. R is still new at going potty and, what should have been a quick pee, disintegrated into bloody, horror screaming. Somehow, he decided he COULD pee in the potty and suddenly we were on our way. I can only imagine what anyone standing outside of that restroom might have thought (*face palm*). We stopped at the gift shop and bought three new cars. I’m still patting myself on the back for that idea. They kept him entertained as we waited in line for all of the attractions. He ended up getting a good nap in the stroller and we both decided we were ready to go home at the same time. All in all, it was a great success!
Today I wanted to write a post based on this line from the Jack Gilbert poem, A Brief for the Defense:
“We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”
I wanted to write about my happy weekend with River and acknowledge that much of my writing has been about the dark, and to explain that you have to be stubborn to find the light. And now I find myself depleted in a way that makes it hard to call upon that stubbornness. We had another night of interrupted sleep and today, I just feel tired. Tired of figuring out what to do all the time. Tired of going it alone. Tired of solving. Tired of fighting. Tired of fixing. If it sounds like I’m talking about more than physical fatigue, then you are following me. I’m tired of the grind of shared parenting. I’m tired of missing my son. The termination of my marriage feels like the excruciatingly slow removal of a bandaid, each millimeter exacting another dose of pain.
I feel like running to my comforts. I feel like hiding from the dark. It feels like if I walk into it again it might overtake me. So my brain starts strategizing for how to run or look away or numb. And because I have been through this so many times, I see it, and so the things that used to give me false comfort in this situation are hollow. What I want—what I always want—is to feel seen. To feel known. I also want to punch a wall, Andy-Bernard-style.
On days like today, I feel like the weight of my life might swallow me and it’s hard for me to say I am willing. And it’s not lost on me that this feeling comes on the heels of a couple of good days. Does this happen to anyone else?!?
So I check in with myself. What am I willing to do?
I know I keep my sanity better if I move my body and if I eat the right things. I am willing to do that. I know I feel less overwhelmed if I keep my house clean. I am willing to do that. I know my life is most enriching and full and complete when I stay open and stay curious. I am willing to do that.
As Jack Gilbert says, “We must risk delight.” I can stay curious about that. What would delight feel like tonight? “If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,” he continues, “we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.” That’s what I want—not to get run down in a train tunnel—but to live with magnitude! To know that it all meant something, if only to me. And the first step toward magnitude is curiosity.
See! That tiny light is already glowing. Namaste.