I can be one of two things to myself – my own best friend or my own worst enemy.
Things are good when I serve as my best friend.
But when I act as my own worst enemy, well, I find myself on what – in the moment – seems like an endless trail of shit. And that endless trail of shit fills my head with a gamut of wasted thoughts, my body with a deficit of energy and my whole being with a lot of pressure that is all but insignificant. The shit trail, more often than not, bears no greater impact on the world or myself.
Still, it takes great effort to stop it, to stop the spiral of shit that simply will not make the world end.
And it wasn’t until the other day, after I had wound myself up so tight over the emotional imbalances in our house – those terribly vicious, self-feeding vultures – that I experienced the simplest of moments that gnashed back at the vultures and made the world feel lighter again.
I had just come out of the shower, in a typically mad morning weekday rush. I had spent much of the last hour coaxing my son into eating his breakfast, getting his shit together and putting on his school uniform, and I had left little time to get myself ready. I was in my room, drying myself with the precision of a lumberjack.
My son snuck into the room and started bouncing on the bed, his own personal indoor trampoline. He started giggling and up to a certain point it was not infectious. I was too preoccupied with not running late that I couldn’t even begin to contemplate the joy he was experiencing at 7:30AM.
He stopped jumping and lent over to tickle me. Impatiently, I sighed and fussed about for my clothes, ignoring his invitation to play. This was no time for playing. It was a time for hurrying up, for rushing, for starting the day with a head full of thoughts that were as petty as finding the right shoes to go with my pants.
“Mummy,” he smiled. “Come get me.” And he darted across to the other side of the bed.
“No, I can’t get you now. I’m getting ready for work. I’m going to be late and I have to get you to school and I’ve still gotta get myself some breakfast to eat in the car and I haven’t even put your lunchbox in your bag yet and I mustn’t forget the money sitting on the bench for your school fundraiser…” And I continued to reel off a list of reasons why I could not, for one second, stop and play.
He gave me a perplexed look, as if I were speaking to him in foreign tongue. All of those things meant nothing to him, which was both something that I simultaneously admired and felt infuriated by. The only thing he was focused on was laughing, playing chase across the bed and jumping til the springs popped. He looked at me with pleading eyes, a last ditch effort.
“Come on, Mummy.”
I stopped for a second. Would the world end if we ran five minutes behind schedule? Would it collapse in a heap if I got carried away bouncing on the bed and forgot the fundraising money on the bench for just one extra day? Would my child starve to death if we did happen to forget to put his lunchbox in his bag as a consequence for choosing the tickle?
I laughed at the answer. It was almost ludicrous.
And standing there half-dressed in my bra and odd socks, I stopped worrying about the rush for just one second and I lunged across the bed, reaching out my hands to tickle my son. I hadn’t even touched him and already he was giggling like a gherkin, his eyes flared with delight.
I started giggling too. Then the giggle turned into a wrestle and the wrestle turned into a tumble and the tumble turned into a bounce and the bounce turned into a chase and before I knew it, I too was inflamed with delight to the point where I collapsed on the bed, out of breath, my son buried in my armpits.
It was ten damn minutes of delight. Only ten minutes and it was enough to start our day in the right way. And the world did not end because of it.
The rest of the getting ready affair seemed more effortless and the drive to school was bubbling with chatter that bounced back and forth between us. And the school farewell was smooth and filled with such big smiles that I even got the biggest cuddle from Kid Wonder before he joined the rest of his friends in line.
Ten minutes of the world not collapsing did that. Ten minutes.
And as I drove to work I started thinking over the rest of the useless junkyard in my mind – all the guilt and pressure and worry and mindless fretting that will also not make the world end in calamity.
I made a non-exhaustive list because I like lists and because it made me realise how stupid my head really can be.
- If, one day in every month, I happen to sleep through my alarm and do not leave myself enough time to go through my morning workout, it is okay. I obviously needed the sleep. I will not instantly put on ten kilos. This will not completely undo all that hard work and the world, quite simply, will not end.
- If, one evening of every week, I happen to feel like ditching my otherwise clean eating efforts and opt for a slightly more gluttonous meal, it will be okay. I will not instantly put on ten kilos. This will not completely undo all that hard work and the world, quite simply, will not end.
- If, one evening in every month, I decide to do away with the to-do-list and choose the TV, knee-high bed socks and the couch over a night of writing or work, well that too will be okay. I will not suddenly become lazy. It will not mean that I have completely given up or abandoned ship. It will not put me ten years behind. The world will not end.
- If, for whatever reason, I decide not to wash the dishes immediately after dinner has finished, if they sit in the sink – unwashed – for a whole twenty-four hours, I will not be inundated with sudden visitors who think I am a pig. The ants will not overrun my home. It will not be any more work doing them tomorrow. My day will not start in a shambles due to a handful of dirty dishes and the world, once again, will not keel over and collapse.
- If I am feeling tired and I need to do away with my usual after-the-kid-goes-to-bed nightly write-a-thon and work-a-thon, this does not mean my novel will never get published or that all the things I need to get done will never get done. Those book publishers absolutely tearing at the bit with anticipation for my novel, I am sure, will be able to wait one more day. I will not wake up in the night to the walls collapsing around me, the earth in flames.
- If I happen to be in a moody, emotional, in-desperate-need-of-a-sugar-fix-state, and REALLY feel like another piece of Coles-brand, eighty-calories-per-bar, coffee bean infused chocolate, and it does not say to have TWO (only one) bars on my eating plan, I am sure this too will be okay. I will not be sucked into a black hole or have to redeem myself in another galaxy.
- If Kid Wonder is pushing my buttons and all possibilities of patience have been exhausted and if I happen to break and snap just a little, this will not make me the world’s worst mother, nor will the earth stop revolving.
- If I happen to choose to go out on one of my very RARE child-free nights one weekend and decide to drink the bar dry and waste my Sunday away with my head down a toilet bowl and my head filled with Panadol, the world around me may spin extra hard and fast, but it will not cease to exist because I went out and had a really bloody fun, memory-less night.
- If I realise I need a break and call upon my parents to take the kid for a few hours while I get my shit together, it does not mean I am not coping or that I am a terrible mother who can’t handle my own child. It means I need three hours to get my shit together. Nothing more, nothing less. Armageddon will not seize the day.
- If I do not write a perfectly rounded list of ten things for this blog post, the world is not going to explode and human beings will not suffer because I could not think right now.
And as if thinking all of these things was not enough, in the middle of writing this post I got an email from my favourite astrologer, Rob Brezny with last week’s horoscopes. Want to know what the Aquarian one said for the week?
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Would you please go spend some quality time having non-goal-oriented fun? Can I convince you to lounge around in fantasyland as you empty your beautiful head of all compulsions to prove yourself and meet people’s expectations? Will you listen to me if I suggest that you take off the mask that’s stuck to your face and make funny faces in the mirror? You need a nice long nap, gorgeous. Two or three nice long naps. Bake some damn cookies, even if you’ve never done so. Soak your feet in epsom salts as you binge-watch a TV show that stimulates a thousand emotions. Lie in the grass and stare lovingly at the sky for as long as it takes to recharge your spiritual batteries.
So this week I am seeking out joy and recharging those spiritual batteries. The rest can wait. The world will not end.