I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about my present state of mind. Re-reading my last few posts–laments on my August slump, my daughter’s first day of school, and my coming career exploration–I just realized that I seem melancholy.
On the contrary. Most every day, all I feel is lightness.
I feel lightness at the five o’clock hour looms large, as I shut down for the day, pack up my things, and descend from my office on the second floor out the back door of the building, walking over the gravel, broken and scattered to my tired sedan in the parking lot. My mind races with a list of things I haven’t yet completed and a list of things awaiting me at home. Yet, the air is the perfect temperature, it covers my bare arms. I feel a lightness in the pre-twilight air that is somehow fresh even though the day is stale.
I feel lightness when I see my children at the end of a hassled drive even though I have just sprinted through the parking lot and even though sometimes I face exhausted and moody rather than joyful faces. I see their dimpled cheeks and their crazy curls, messy from fighting a day of restraint in a ponytail. They clamor for my attention, making demands, whining to be carried to the car or running away, and though corralling them is a test of my patience, I am sometimes (but not always) able to lose myself in the chaos of reunion.
I feel lightness when I feed them something to eat and especially on nights when their mouths are full and quiet because they are so satisfied. I listen to their report of the days’ events, sneaking in snippets of my own to my husband as we eat and talk. And while sometimes my culinary feat is refused, I resist disappointment when full plates of food return to the kitchen counters and requests for “toast, please” bubble up from the peanut gallery.
I feel lightness when I tuck them in at night, snug in their pajamas, under blankets with loveys, flipping the light switch and wishing them “sweet dreams.” I secretly delight in returning for an extra kiss or hug but only the first few times. And even when the indignant bedtime protestation swells, I still chuckle over the creativity employed, luring us back to their rooms.
I feel lightness in moments where my husband and I work side by side doing anything. We try to be in each other’s company once the children are in bed because if we thought about how little time we actually spent together, it would depress us. Often it’s clicking our respective keyboards, but sometimes, it’s doing the dishes. We say words to each other and listen and question. We catch up on a television show. And sometimes we just sit in silence.
I feel lightness when the clock strikes eleven or twelve and I remind myself that it is time for bed. I take a moment in my bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I make some notes about the day for myself in my journal. I take out my earrings and toss my dirty clothes next to the overflowing hamper in the corner of the room. I check my alarm to make sure it is set for 6:45am. I check it a second and third time because we have only recently started setting alarms and I do not trust that I have done it correctly. And then I snuggle my feet under the sheets and relax.
How can I feel anything but lightness with the things that I have. My husband, my children, my family and friends, my home, my car, my job, this life. Some days feel so ragged and frayed. Some days I feel like I have everything wrong, that I haven’t lived the day with the grace and patience I imagine I have, that I have not been genuine and present. But wallowing in that kind of self-doubt, in that insidious negativity does nothing for me.
I feel lightness because I pay attention. It would be easy to feel the weight of the day in everything I do. It would be easy with the kind of uncertainty I have at work, to feel unappreciated or frustrated with my family or my students, to feel worried and nervous about the coming months, the coming years. Instead, I remind myself to have patience, to be grateful, to have some faith, to really see the precious, little moments.
And instead of the unbearable weight many insist on carrying, I feel lightness.
But really, I choose lightness.