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.
I love my eldest daughter’s clear handwriting. It is so much more careful and prepared than mine. The curves are perfectly round and the straight lines are clear, but not stark or harsh. It is not hurried or scrawled; it has hidden patience. The letters can sometimes tend toward those fluffy, bubbly letters written by the ‘cool’ girls in middle school in the 90s. But my daughter’s have more substance and purpose behind them, (and none of the drooling, big eyes smiley faces). I feel the love of reading, dancing, and singing in the gentle, fluidity of the letters and placement on the page.
My own handwriting comes out too fast, trying to keep up with the speed of my brain. Letters overlap or are squashed flat in my haste to put the next one down on paper. The ends of my last letters often draw themselves too far out, like a cat scratch that isn’t quick to heal. And the edges of my letters either cross too far, or don’t finish the connection. I am hurried in the process and overwhelmed with the next task.
When I was in second grade, I remember my teacher compairing my messy, out of the lines coloring to my neat and beautiful older sister’s work. I have never developed into a neat person, in writing or housekeeping. I push myself beyond my own limits and try to clean up later. When I slow down and actually try, (as in teaching first graders,) I can write perfect clear, text book letters. I am indeed messy and fast, but I get the job done and move to the next performance in my three ring circus.
My eldest daughter stands on that brink of life, 13 years young. She is full of grand ideas, wonderful beginnings, fantasy endings, and dreams too big to contain. She is also graceful and strong, beautiful and poised, gently independent with a strong dose of teen self-doubt. She has the potential to do great things, with clarity and patience. She has many mountians to climb, and it will take many tears and much effort to reach her lofty goals, but she will do it. I can see it in her writing.