The other day I experienced a joy so rare and indulgent that I had forgotten its power: I took an uninterrupted shower. The boys were being tended to, the work day was done, and there was nothing but me, some hot water, and a soapy pouf. I started to sing and realized that it had been months since I had last done so. Songs that I used to know forwards and backwards were sung with big pauses and made-up lyrics. It was like I was getting to know myself again through those words in the steam and it felt strange and unnerving. I’m starting to see, with my oldest only 2 1/2 years old, why empty nest syndrome is a thing.
I am starting to search for the new owner’s manual for my life. Not knowing where to start or which direction to take, my evening moved from solid intentions to walk on the treadmill to serious thoughts about doing some yoga. So, I decided on watching Weeds on Netflix and munching on chips and salsa while downloading a food diary app on my phone, instead. I start every day with new, good intentions mixed with a dropperful of anxiety; today I’m going to get my 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and not eat junk food, but I’ll only be able to keep that up if the boys cooperate and take it easy on me. Inevitably, I end up with my hand in a bag of chips. Thing is, they are rarely more than I can handle because I love them. They are my heart, my family, and the main reason that I do what I do every day. They are the cause for my highest highs and for every inch I move closer to an anxiety attack. They are the universe in two, diaper-wrapped, frenetic bundles. God love ’em.
It’s silly to think that I can write my owner’s manual without including myself in it. I’ve always struggled to be complete, to feel like there are no voids or holes that need patching up or hiding. If I did notice any imperfections I couldn’t stand to show the world, I would try to cover them up. It all left me feeling like no one knew me, laughing everything off as a diversion from my lack of strong political views or my love of High School Musical 3 (hello, Zac Efron). But, every day I work to lay down one more true, honest word in my life’s story.
Some days you’re Ike, some days you’re Connor
I love to laugh, but the only worthwhile laughter is the real stuff, not the empty giggles of fear and discomfort. That must be one of the many reasons I love hearing Connor laugh; he doesn’t do it to please or hide, he laughs out of pure enjoyment. That seems to be of the utmost importance lately – enjoying what I do, and if I don’t, searching out what will bring that happiness about me. Funny how searching for contentment can get the dishes done and the mail sorted with nary a resentful huff. Why do I so often forget the motivating power of being able to restfully lay in bed after a day won? The thing is, every day can be won just by laying down a worthwhile word – or letter or piece of punctuation – in the story that you write of yourself for yourself. I think I’ve won today.