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Lying awake at 3 am. My nose begins to run, not a cold, not allergies, Worry. I am worried about something, but I don’t really know what. I try to ignore it (impossible). I try to reach the tissues by the bed without opening my eyes (impossible).

My stomach rumbles. Hungry, yes, but also Worry. It is that strange feeling of maybe you over ate, maybe you have a sour stomach, maybe you want some food. Also impossible to ignore.

But lying next to me, rolling over to rub my back, and ask if I am okay, is my partner, my husband, my rock. Not judging or annoyed at being awoken. Just there, if and when I need him. He is there to hug, to listen, to hear.

Today, I am lucky. I am loved.

I am loved. I am important. I am worthy. I am me, and that is wonderful.

I do not fall back asleep, but run through my mind stopping at odd spots, like my first day of fifth grade, when I realized I was not something special. Or perhaps the beginning of anxiety in fourth grade when I did a presentation on Ireland, but the cassette tape had been put in the player with the wrong side up, and it didn’t play the wonderful Irish music to go with the Irish soda bread I had made the night before.

But at each turn and stop in my head, I know that it is okay. I am loved. I am lucky.

Tomorrow (really today) is a new day and I will try again. This is not my ‘normal’ middle of the night wake up. This is calm and contemplative. A bummer to not be asleep, but such a deep and profound sense of love and acceptance that I am almost brought to tears.


À Présent

When the simplest of tasks brings you to tears…

Overwhelmed by my opportunity of a day alone, I try to start by writing out the lists swirling in my head. It all starts fine with lots of spaces between the chores, lots of room for wiggling. But as I continue, my mind keeps whirring and adding till it seems every inch of paper has a job, a need, a demand. And no longer are the chores marching in line, staying in order, moving fully from one room to the next. Now they are jumbled together, standing on each other’s shoulders, pushing against the edges. Like three-year-olds jockeying for a spot in the ice cream line, manic and boisterous and whining for attention. Perhaps I need another cup of coffee, or breakfast, or to go back to bed…

In a whisper, in my head, I hear my own voice trying to help one of my overwhelmed children (let’s just pick one thing and accomplish the moment in smaller bites). And then I also hear my own small voice growing in strength – crying, sobbing, unable to choose JUST ONE. There is no prioritizing the list; everything MUST be done NOW, RIGHT NOW!!!!!

And there, there is where I hear their laughter, and remember the feeling of happiness. There is the memory of teaching her French this past week and loving and laughing as I pretend to hurry her “maintenant, maintenant, maintenant!” The rolling on the floor, belly cramping laughter. The good feeling flowing over my aching heart like chocolate over strawberries; filling the seeds of doubt and sadness, with smooth sweetness and love. There I feel forgiveness.

The wave has passed. I can see this moment gently flowing to the next and can let go of the expectations and demands and make a choice. I can be happy, for these few moments at least, with the choices I make and the outcomes that result. I can be present for myself.

2 AM

I am awoken from my slumber by the sound of the rain, the scratch of a branch on the house, or perhaps a shooting star. I do not open my eyes; I try to convince myself I am not really awake. My mind is not so easily swayed. Bills that are due come creeping slowly up to the edges, followed by the list of house keeping chores, and hand in hand with children’s sports equipment requests. Coming in behind all those distractions are the new baby chicks along the bunny cage that needs fixing. 

I roll over. I plump my pillow. I practice deep, slow breathing. I look at the clock. 2:05 am.

Now, I have to pee.

I certainly could stoke the fire on my way through the living room. And then I could check on those baby chicks. While I was waiting for the fire to catch, I could check my bank online, and schedule bills. I could probably switch over the laundry too, so there would be more available for the kids to fold tomorrow.

But I don’t want to get up. I don’t get up.

The fire is probably fine. The chicks are probably sleeping. There is already two loads of laundry waiting to be folded. I can schedule the bills in the morning.

I have to pee.

Rolling over I snuggle in the covers, I close my eyes, I try to sleep. I peak at the clock, 2:10.

A light thump, followed by the gentle creak of a floor board, followed by a cough. Someone is awake. Someone is walking. Someone is coming down the stairs. Someone is standing in the doorway. Someone is talking to me, beside my bed. 

My youngest daughter, ready with her story of why she needs me…I pretend to sleep. I whisper to her that I am sleeping. She climbs into bed, across me, to the empty pillow of my still traveling husband.

She is small, and warm, and has her snuggly lion tucked under her arm. She snuggles into me. I snuggle her back and, but wish I could check my phone, or check on the fire, and what about those bills.  She falls asleep. Cozy.

I have to pee. I try to sleep.

Suddenly, the most wretched middle of the night sound: the cat puking, on my bed!!! Yuck. Now I MUST get up…

Finally snuggling back in bed. The clock reads 2:50

I cozy up to the small child, still sleeping soundly. She does not worry about bills, or chicks, or laundry. She doesn’t need to clean cat puke off the bed and the floor. She needs love. She needs attention. She needs reassurance that it WILL be okay. She worries about bad dreams and what will happen to Percy Jackson and Grover. I can help with HER problems. I can give her love and ease her fears. I am her protector and her care giver. All she needs is her mom. 

I snuggle into the covers and hug my little person. As I fall peacefully asleep, I am calmed, having solved the problems in one little world. 

Wild, imagined fences

My legs need shaving. My egg sandwich tastes bland. The coffee has gone cold, again. I can feel the lump in my throat, which prevents me from eating much these days. I can also feel the tears, on the verge, ready to spring forth at the next catastrophe. Outside, I tell myself, someday, someday it will be better, it will get easier, I will miss the chaos, the struggle; someday I will look back and laugh. But inside, inside is a growing worry doll that is holding every fear, every ‘what if’, every possible disaster and remembering every single mistake.

Perhaps I have anxiety, perhaps I am just a worrier. I hear and read more every day of mothers’ struggles to juggle it all. I hear about how to ‘let it go’, ‘live in the moment’ and balance it all. Being a well educated college graduate, from a small (expensive) liberal arts school, I know that balance is important. I also know that drive, ambition, and fortitude (along with good conections) is how to make things happen. Realistically, externally, I know these things. And I have those positive images of ‘I have survivied so far’ and ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ and of course Nike’s ‘just do it’. But most of these don’t sink deep enough into my very sub-sub conscious mind.

There is a deep struggle I fight every day. It is the struggle of positive and negative. The struggle of am I really good enough and will I really make it through today. The end result comes out as bubbling positivity most days, though not always. I maintain the external cheerful, busy, bubbly personality trying to spread good and positive feelings to everyone. (There  are certainly down days, for sure, but mostly the positive good does win over the ‘evil’ in my internal struggle.)

Is the positive image I keep holding due to finally letting these known good vibes settle deep enough to REALLY hear them?  Perhaps a little. But the real reason I keep fighting is ten years old. The real reason has dark brown eyes, a gentle wave to her hair and a wonderful smile. The real reason is I don’t want to pass more of the anxiety, worry, self doubt and struggle down to my middle daughter.  Although she is strong, she is building fences that I too built, fences that hold her back from enjoying every moment.

I will fight everyday to show her how to cope with worrying that the house will be engulfed in flames upon our daily return. I will give her the tools I have lived 39 years to find. I will show her the good, the happy, the calm spots in life to take a deep breath and feel the gentle good karma pulsing through the earth. I will show her how to deconstruct those fences, let in the light and run free to explore all the wonders the world has to offer. I will help her to see nobody cares if you have hairy legs, ice coffee can be delicious, and how to let the tears flow to make room for new experiences that are beyond our wildest imaginings. 

Snowy midnight visitor

The world has fallen into quiet solitude. The children are soundly sleeping, the well stoked fire has hushed its crackle,  and even my husband has paused his intermittent  snoring. All is calm, all is peaceful, all is well. The snowfall blankets the windows, the roof, the cars and the driveway as well as the hedge, by the now empty, midnight road.

A low, deep far rumble can faintly be heard by a careful listener, (the only one who awakens to the low rumble of the furnace kicking on, or the whine of the radon pump starting up from a faucet left dripping after teeth brushing). From a deep sleep to alert, awake and worried in a fraction of a second, my breath stops.  I thought we had made it through this one without the midnight rumbling, gravely visitor. I thought it was too early, or rather too late for him to come.

The plow man.

Will he dig up the freshly, frozen, barely ¬†frozen mud? What if he hits the tongue of the boat, newly placed in the side yard? Thud. Scrape. Clank. I think that was the edge of the ¬†cold yellow blade hitting against the plastic of my car’s driver side mirror. The sound stops. He must have scraped¬†something, or crushed something, or noticed a broken something now dragged across the drive and shining in his harsh bright headlights.

Seconds tick by, seemingly like hours. Should I get up? Should I find my pajama pants and slippers and coat and mittens and hat and scarf?

Scrape. Thump. Pause…Scrape.

If it was something, it is now done. The blue plastic sled, now split in two? A mirror dangling sadly from a vehicle parked too close to his path? A forgotten summer toy, now broken into unrecognizable plastic shards?

Scrape. Thud. Scrape. Pause…Reving engine roar. Scrape. Engine roar fading, softer and softer.

He is gone. So quick, he did not wake the children, or disturb the husband. In and out, here and gone. Tomorrow will reveal  the results, the damage, the needed repairs.

Morning breaks cold and with more snow, or maybe rain and sleet. Wrapping myself in bathrobe, slippers, and ¬†thick pajama pants, I glance out the side window. I peer out the front window. I survey the drive through the hall window. I press my nose against the girl’s bedroom window. No glaring damage. No ruts or tracks of uprooted yard. No shards of demolished plastic. No dangling car or boat parts.

Just a simple clear path is cut in the white snow, ready for us to both get out the driveway and on to work for the day.

Thank you plow man.