I absolutely hate to be wet. Abhor. It’s annoying and messy and kind of sticky in its own horrid way. An indoor water park is my idea of vacation hell, but we planned, before all of the awful of the last few weeks, to take the kids to Seattle for a few days before I met my girlfriends for the Madonna concert and when The Great Wolf Lodge south of the city ran a special on its “Kids Kabin” rooms with water park passes and free lunches it felt like kismet or fate or possibly punishment for some cosmic crime committed in a prior life.
Occasionally, life throws into your path the thing you need the most. Focus has not been easy for me lately. I’ve lost focus on my writing, focus on my goals, and presence for my children. Sunday, we stepped into the strangely muggy climate of a large temperature-controlled airplane hanger full of water slides. The constant rush of moving water blocked all conversation.
The need to make sure no one drowned narrowed concentration to a single easy point. Okay, four difficult points constantly moving in four different directions, but the result was the same. FOCUS. COUNT. BREATHE. RECOUNT.
Life refuses to organize into the neat little columns and rows that normally come so easily for me. Letting go, letting myself go under, induces instant panic. But what else is there to do in simulated tropics hell, with white noise ringing in your ears and kids begging for attention? Focus. Count. Breathe.
Do the lily pads.
Eat crappy food. Laugh at ourselves. Sleep in a room with a log cabin and four bunk beds built into it because we have completely ruined our chances of taking a normal vacation ever again. Cram my ass into an inner tube and slide.
Manage not to get wet. Oh, I am good at avoiding things that I don’t like.
Busy is not productive. I know that. Moving forward without prioritizing is a waste of time, just like prioritizing without moving forward is a waste of time (it’s called procrastination and it is my other supreme life skill). If I’m in balance, prioritizing and moving forward, I say no to a lot of things because they aren’t important to me and they don’t fit. I say yes a lot when I am manically fill time to avoid something – like say grief. The illusion is that I can manage everything, but I’m actually failing to manage the most important things.
When I practiced law, I called this the telephone problem. I wouldn’t want to write a brief and so I would answer the damn telephone every time it rang all day and then address whatever the person on the other end wanted. But the telephone is not important, it’s just loud. No need to answer. Write the brief and check the messages later. Answering allows the people calling to set my priorities for me.
Fear of emotions will set my priorities for me if I let it. Avoiding them is like answering the phone. What I really need to do is turn off the ringer and write the damn brief.
Write it out. Cry it out. Sit still in it a while every single day.
Late in the day, after I went down the slide with each of the kids many times, lightly skimming over the surface of the pool as we shot out of the tube, Matt convinced me to go down with him. We flew down that slide at three times the speed the kids and I could gather. I knew about half way down that I was going under at the bottom.
I climbed out of the pool dripping wet and laughing and wrung out my hair. Garrett thought it was a fabulous joke to drench Mommy after all and he pointed and giggled and asked, “were you scared, Mom?”
I was, I told him, on the way down because I realized what was coming, but it’s the anticipation that’s scary. It’s not so bad once you’re under.
And you know, even grumpy, annoyed mothers dry.
Focus. Count. Breathe.