I Didn’t And It Wasn’t

I drove with my kids to Chicago for Spring Break. By myself. Meaning I was the only adult in the car, able to drive, needing to stay awake. Anyone who has taken a road trip with me is now wide-eyed with horror and amazed that we survived. During our entire trip last to Los Angeles, up the coast to Seattle, and back to Lawrence, the only portion I drove was across the street in Yellowstone. I have what my friend calls carpolepsy – the desire to fall asleep as soon as the engine starts. I’m like a baby. When she fusses and you can’t get her to settle, put her in a car and the gentle motion does the trick. If it wouldn’t also mean death, I would hop in my minivan at the first sign of insomnia.

But as evidenced by my ability to write today, I did not kill four fifths of our family last week. In fact, I wasn’t the least bit sleepy for almost the entire trip. The solution: podcasts and copious amounts of green tea. It felt like I became a full-fledged adult on that trip. Able to drive long distances all by my damn self. It was life-changing.

It seems like a juvenile realization for a 41 year old woman. Who’s had many jobs and been married for 16 years and had three babies and does all sorts of grown up things every day. But sometimes, even as an official adult, you experience something that makes you feel more free, more independent, more capable than you have before. Like the first time you talk your credit card company into removing a fee. Or making a complicated recipe and enjoying the delicious result. Or giving birth. When I pulled up to our friends’ house in Hyde Park, having followed my GPS correctly over seven interstate highways, and a trickier back-road route through rural Missouri and Iowa, I was tired but happy. Look at me. I got us here. We didn’t die and we didn’t have to pull over so Mommy could sleep by the side of the road. You have an adult as a parent. Congratulations.

Maybe you don’t get it – what a big deal driving eight and a half hours was to me. Allow me explain how extreme my carpolepsy has been over the years:

In college I took a spring break trip with two friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from Kansas. (Not the spring break for which three collegiate girls heading to the distant beach hope.  It rained nearly the entire time. I remember seeing two movies in a row one day and eating overly, extremely, I-can’t-emphasize-enough-how-fried, fried fish at a cheap buffet one night.) I drove maybe two hours total.

Marc and I have driven to the panhandle of Florida three times, and I remember driving through part of Louisiana. That is all.

Last summer we took a 31 day road trip all over the west half of America. During the entirety of our adventure I drove across the street in Yellowstone Park.

My husband prefers to drive. In part so he doesn’t have to dole out snacks, change cds, read chapters of books aloud, break up KidzBop vs Raffi arguments. And we both know my typical driving contribution is only minimally helpful – as soon as Marc scratches the surface on work emails I start fading. So, for real, people, I never drive further than Wichita, KS alone.

This trip to Chicago was a big deal. And I just decided to go for it. I figured if it wasn’t going well, Columbia, Missouri would become the destination. We’d get a boba, play at a park, and turn the car around. Better than driving into the ditch. But like the little engine that could, I thought I could. And I was right.

We had a fabulous time seeing our dear friends. We went to museums, played at parks, spent hours reconnecting with some of our favorite people. And we made a memory to savor for years to come. Overall, a complete success. (minus the tornado sirens in Springfield IL while in a Cracker Barrel without a basement/ hotel with the tornado “shelter” located seven feet from the front desk). And all because I decided to try. I could have failed, and that would have been a different lesson. And resulted in a different post. But I didn’t, and it wasn’t, and this is my happy post of victory over carpolepsy.

Yay for green tea and the era of podcasts.

And yay for trying. There’s not much else you can do.

 

 

Happy Regrouping

You might have noticed I’ve been gone a while. There are a plethora of reasons: sick kids, sick me, days off of school, and more of the same, but the deeper reason for the long absence from posting to my blog is I’ve had nothing to say. I’ve tried. The few chances I’ve gotten I’ve sat for my allotted three-hours-minus-travel-time-from-preschool-to-Starbucks-and-back and written crap. Or nothing at all. Which in itself is depressing. But there wasn’t much to be done since I can’t apply the often touted writer’s rule “write every day.” My rules are more like “shower every other day,” and “get some sort of exercise,” and “don’t let the laundry start overflowing out of the laundry room.” I do fairly well at these.

It’s hard to say exactly why the drought in well-formed and interesting thoughts occurred – perhaps February is cursed, maybe I just don’t do winter well, or it could be the fact that my thyroid had decided to take a break from it’s busy schedule. But luckily, the drought has passed and I had a glimmer of an idea today. Thank you March, spring, functioning thyroid.

 ***

I was recently waiting for several days on some test results that could have been bad news. Thankfully, I received good news instead. But the space between not knowing and knowing gave me a new swath of gray hair. I tried to stay calm, aware that worrying about the unknown accomplishes nothing but stress dreams and intestinal problems, but waiting is not my forte. It is one of my many nemeses (cold feet, hunger and relational conflict being others). I prayed. I breathed deeply. I exercised. But worry crept in and took over a number of welcoming folds in my brain. It found a comfy home next to the concern over finances, unmade summer plans, whether Mae will deal well with all day kindergarten next fall. Fretfulness takes up a lot of the spots in there. This, too, worries me. If my brain is filled with anxiety is there room for anything else? Maybe that’s why I can never remember what it was I needed at the store.

And then there is our current political climate in America. I would describe it as scorching fire and wind swirling from the mouths of those with bitterly cold hearts. I don’t even think that’s being dramatic. All of which gets me riled to the point of heart palpitations and makes it clear that this has got to stop. Worry is getting me nowhere but down.

So I employed a tried and true coping mechanism. I put on my headphones. I found my new musical obsession on Spotify and with the first line came down a notch on the stress scale.

Foy Vance is an anomaly: an Irish guy with a penchant for American blues and soul. He is one of the best songwriters I’ve heard in a long time. And he has a raspy, world-weary voice that sounds like coming home on a cold day and wrapping up in a wool blanket – a little scratchy but warm and cozy and absolutely welcome. I’m soaking up his live album these last few days and I find it calming me, inspiring creativity, and hinting at the beauty that does still exist the world even if our own presidential candidates are making it uglier by the day.

For example. In his song Be, My Daughter I hear the wisdom of the ages, resembling the words of Ecclesiastes, but with a modern, personal take. He wrote it while on tour, after a difficult Skype session with his daughter who was back at home. Another girl was treating her badly at school and he penned a song in response to her worry. An admonition to simply be. It’s just lovely…

There’s a time to talk about it

A time to live it up

A time to sit in silence

 

A time to cry about it

A time to laugh it up

 

A time for stillness in the water

Be, my daughter

 

There’s a time to shout about it

A time to bottle up

A time for all time to be over

 

A time to think about it

A time to give it up

 

A time to burn up every altar

Be, my daughter

 

Tomorrow morning you’ll be slowly waking up

And I”ll be far across the water

But I’ll send reminders against the times it gets too tough

Be, my daughter

 

There’s a time to want a love

A time to need a friend

A time to put your hurts behind you

 

A time to chew it over

A time to make amends

 

You remember that time my baby jumped and daddy caught her

Be, my daughter

Be, my daughter

 

As a parent, I hear the kind guidance, the wise direction to be still, the reminders of his love. And as a person of faith I hear God’s voice saying the same to me. This is exactly my view of his love for us. If you think that’s bunk, well alright. Sometimes I simply can’t hold it in. I hope you can see the joy and stillness in the song. I hope it makes you smile, and think, and be.

I’m choosing to think about this for a while instead of all the worries. Trump will still be on every news outlet tomorrow.

There’s a time to enter the fray and a time to retreat. A time to engage in the madness and a time to regroup. Happy regrouping, everyone.

 

(Here’s the song, so you can come down on the stress scale, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZqh1KvsCSs)