Turning Towards

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I’ve made a habit of turning away from life, lately. It was a means of survival, at first. Checking out from intense emotions was getting me through. Now it’s just a thing that I do mindlessly, reflexively. And I feel like I’ve been writing this post over and over for a year now. I’m tired of it. Are you tired of it yet?

Today I’m making a concious choice to turn towards life. Limited time on social media. Actually getting out of the house, out of the driveway, out of the neighbourhood. I took the kids to the woods today and although it was a grey day and the path was solid ice, we made our way through the dry brown leaf carpet along the edges. And instead of looking for the exit, as I always do, I chose instead to notice what was around me. The constant hum of distant traffic and the lonely sound of crows. Red berries clinging to a bare, thorny bush. Frozen puddles and how the ice shattered like glass under the kids’ boots. The bright green creep of moss on deeply furrowed tree bark, the texture of it. Coyote scat. My breath, in and out. How impossibly tired I am. The weight of the baby in the carrier on my back, the ache in my shoulders and neck. Noticing all of it. Turning towards. Choosing to stay.

It’s been easier, in some ways. It means less yelling, because I can see the shit before it hits the fan. It means happier kids, because I’m paying attention. And I suppose, grudgingly, I will admit that it means happier me, too. Turning away from life is no way to live life. Even if what you’re turning towards is mind-numbingly boring, or uncomfortable, or cold or whatever. At least it’s mine, right?

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Dig In

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Four days of intense travel. A total of 10 hours on the road, 4 and a half hours in airplanes, an hour in a taxi. Hours spent in hotel rooms, trying to keep 3 little kids entertained in such a small space.

Taking them to a park in Vancouver where the ground was squishy mud, Aedan getting his boots full of puddle water just 2 hours before his appointment at the diabetes clinic. Me, most unprepared parent ever, even after 5 years of parenting, not having a spare pair of shoes for him. Drying his boots out in the hotel bathroom with the hair dryer.

P and I switching off for the appointments: he and Aedan first while I try to get Charlie to nap, Treehouse keeping Colm quiet, sort of. Then my turn: taking an unhappy 3 year old to his appointment with the allergist. 2 hours in a room at the clinic, giving his history to a resident. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting in that little room to finally have a chat with the Doctor. Forms signed, skin test finally completed, we’re free.

Walking to the Japanese restaurant in the rain, the server not understanding my requests for plain tofu for my allergic son, getting the battered tofu…ordering endless sides of rice, rice dumped on the floor, imagined side-eye from the mom with the calm kids at the table next to us. Impatient husband. Octopus baby in my lap. In the highchair. Back in my lap. Repeat for 4 days.

Crying baby in the truck, she hates the car seat. Puking baby, I don’t know why. Roadside stops to pee. Roadside stops to clean up puke.

The herd of elk just south of Braeburn Lake. Stopping the truck so the boys could get their fill of the animals nosing through the thin layer of snow, tearing at dried grass with teeth, totally unconcerned by our presence.

The two linx P and I saw playing at the side of the road near Tintina Trench. They ducked into the ditch before the boys could spot them, before I could wrestle my phone from the baby to snap a photo. Some things are meant to be experienced fleetingly. All things, maybe.

Tumbling back into our reality, except it’s all our reality, isn’t it? Back to work, back to school. Fighting about school. Wrestling him into his clothes. Mindlessly eating. Pulling myself back. What do I need to do on these days when I Google hopeless things like “how to survive when you hate being a parent”? Google can’t tell me. You can’t tell me. Only I can. Only I know. Come back to the breath. Go easy on myself. Get outside for a moment. Write. Right here, write. Read a poem. Root deeper when you want to run away.

Dig in, because this is it.