My kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it. Papers strewn over the counters amidst puddles of green smoothie remnants from this morning’s attempt to consume a healthy breakfast. A bottle of maple syrup with sticky liquid oozing from the cap into small droplets down the front of the label and onto the counter. Half eaten waffles on a paper plate sitting on the kitchen table. Last night’s dinner dishes still in the sink waiting for a bath.
School is back in session. No more lazy mornings letting the kids sleep in until they feel good and ready to emerge from their soft, cool sheets. Alarm clocks blazing. Pillows shielding their eyes from the sun as the cruel window shades open to the blinding light of the morning. ” Ten more minutes!”, they shout.
“Nope. Time to get up.”
I stumble into my home office to be greeted with a foul stench. One of the animals has found a convenient place to relieve herself. I locate the offending pile of poop on the floor right next to my hard drive. It is a bit runny. Probably from our cat, wildly jealous of the new kitten that has just learned to use the litter box the two of them will share (well, hopefully will share) at some point in the near future. I scoop the mess from the floor and carefully wipe down the cords, trying really hard not to hurl.
Lunches need to be prepared. Homework journals must be signed. Three kids need to be shuttled to two different schools. We have been catapulted back into a very segmented time regimen that we are just not quite in sync with yet.
8:03am. Time to pile into the car for the first trip out. We get halfway to our destination when my son realizes the report he has worked like a dog all weekend to complete is sitting in its shiny report binder on the coffee table. Cranking my steering wheel to make a U turn in heavy morning traffic, I can feel panic rising in my sweet young son. He knows he’ll be late on the first full week of school. His breathing is shallow. His shoulders are tight. His jaw is clenched.
I know that look. I’ve embodied that look. My heart goes out to him.
Where’s my coffee? I forgot to make myself a cup of coffee. I take a deep breath and try to calm my son. He doesn’t feel like chatting.
We ride in silence to the house. He springs from the car and bursts through the door with me on his heels. We are on a mission. We find the report and leap back into the car. When we reach the school, he slinks out, hangs his head and makes his way to class.
I breathe in and out. Gotta get home and shuttle the second group in now.
My daughter is sitting on the kitchen floor cleaning her white tennis shoes with a toothbrush. My son is at the computer playing his favorite video game. I silently pray that their backpacks are somewhere in the near vicinity, with all the important papers and folders inside. Fate smiles on me and they are good to go. My car drives on familiar tracks to their school, around the turnaround and through the drop off area. Hugs and kisses. The door closes. And I am free.
Except for the kitchen. And the fact that I have a meeting in thirty five minutes that I am not quite ready for.
WRITE! The voice inside my head is talking to me. WRITE NOW.
I think of the dishes. My hair needs brushing. And I’m not so sure about my wardrobe selection. I sit at the computer and place my hands on the keyboard. I begin to type.
What I realize now is that I have just stepped through chaos into a different zone. The wave came at me. It was high. It was strong. Powerful. But this morning I didn’t fight it. I let it take me for a ride. I remembered to breathe. And I’m still in the chaos.
I’ve had mornings like this where I ended up bruised and beaten, hurled onto the shore with arms flailing, trying to fight the wave and make everything happen the way I thought it should. I’ve crawled sputtering to the beach exhausted and worn out, all my energy spent rebelling against the unforeseen forces that thrust me unwillingly into chaos. But not today. Today, I feel good.
My heart goes out to my son. But I know that this is only one of a number of experiences he will have that will teach him something he’ll find useful at some point in his future. He may never realize how important it was or how it shaped him. He will likely have a few more of those mornings. And so will I. Gradually, he will make different choices. He will learn to breathe. He will learn to relax and take whatever comes to him with grace and determination. If he has enough of these experiences, he may even become unflappable.
Ride the wave. Even if it takes you under. You’ll come out on top eventually. Remember to breathe when you have the opportunity to come up for air.
And seize the moment to do whatever your gut tells you to. Even if at the time it seems like the craziest thing you could possibly think of.
My hair still needs brushing. But I’m more ready now for that morning meeting that I ever would have been if I hadn’t stopped to reflect, ponder, and WRITE.
The dishes will get done when it is time. The cat will poop where it will. And what I’m wearing isn’t nearly as important as how I feel. Hello new day. I’m here.
Today, I’m REALLY here.
For more on riding the wave of chaos:
Wave picture by Kaz Sano from Dreamstime.com.