I almost didn’t go. A 400 kilometer drive south for an annual family get together, flying solo with two babies? Well, we’re talking like elite endurance, here. I was sleep-deprived as all hell, we’d have to all share a room together for three nights – one baby who wakes up every hour, another who doesn’t like to sleep anywhere but her own bed – and they both decided to get sick just before we left. Not only that, but the night before we were due to leave I had some unsettling dreams where Ella was dead and I was the only one who could still communicate with her; the eerie, dark-circles-under-the-eyes, wispy ghostly thing that she was. Then, as we were all set to go, the car keys went missing and Joel and I turned the house inside out for four hours straight looking for them. If the universe wanted me to go, I thought, she was making if pretty effing hard.
Truth is, there was a part of me which didn’t want to go. Where Joel could pack us up and take us to the far ends of the earth high on the scent of adventure at a moment’s notice, I like the predictability of home. Where Joel’s motto is life-is-what-happens-when-you-leave-the-house, mine is, well, I’m not sure but it’s not that. The after-bath tickle fests. The peace and order. The beautiful things. The daily rituals. I find comfort in my day-to-day life. The calm. The regularity. Big adventures sound like a whole lot of freaking work to me and, really, I just want to nap.
“I’ve got a plan”, Joel says. “We’re moving to Bali for a year.” I ignore him, like I usually do, and go take a shower. Because don’t get me wrong, I can be totally crazy, but only usually if the dishes are done first.
Life with kids has only made me take the less adventurous path. I spend my days micro-managing and crisis-preventing and logistics-planning, and in doing so, the easier road is generally sought. The comfortable stay-at-home road where routines are kept and drama is brought to a minimum. Things are smooth-sailing at home. They are safe. Predictable. Hunger, tiredness, boredom — they can all be solved pretty quickly, peace can be restored, and I’m led to drink less gin. Win-win for all.
So as I was met with all these about-to-leave curve-balls, I was confused as all hell about what exactly the universe was telling me and what was my own reluctance in going. This was a matter only some fairy cards could solve, so I pulled them out, shuffled them, picked one, read aloud the word “vacation”, decided that was as obvious a decision as I’ll ever get, repacked the car, called my brother to share the drive down, and left the next morning.
And you know what I realized? There will always be stress involved in life. I can choose to limit my experiences in order to limit that stress, or I can admit that perhaps, the stress isn’t the problem. That perhaps I am the problem. Me with my avoid-crisis-at-all-costs attitude. Because what is it I’m so afraid of? What am I trying to prevent? Screaming kids. Meltdowns. Disrupted sleep. Yes, all those things. But only because I’m someone who just flips out in the face of pressure. I’m trying to prevent myself from losing it, so I work like crazy to control my environment and these potential triggers. I avoid stress like a peanut allergy. You know, if I was allergic to peanuts.
But, you see, I don’t want to only experience happiness when all my surroundings are just right. I want to be somebody who digs for it when things aren’t just right. I want to roll with life – not control it – and smile lightheartedly in the face of disaster. And I want to teach my kids to do the same.
So, over the weekend, I rolled. I experienced stress I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed home — sleepless nights, car-trip meltdowns, broken routines. BUT long overdue hugs were shared. Beach walks were had. Glorious countryside was passed which always makes me feel outrageously patriotic. We ate and drank and played games and passed around babies. We lit fires and indulged in our unscheduled days. And I would have missed it all, had I not simply taken a big breath, braced myself and said Yes to life.
Blue skies to you and you and you.
And lots of love from me and my pocket-obsessed girl.