Wednesday morning at 8:20 I stood in our driveway like I’ve done on hundreds of other mornings over the last few years. Charlie and Chanelle did as they normally do–fought incessantly over a basketball game played with a soccer ball and Meadow did, well, whatever she wanted, which on this particular day was ribbon play. Taza ran amongst us all, fluctuating between her usual Doodle energy and her Doodle laziness. Music played from my phone as we all stood in wait for the bus to pick the older kids up and take them to school. There was nothing particularly special about the morning.
And then, without warning, I felt a weighty lump form in my throat. I was taken by surprise and tried everything I could to swallow it back down, but it was hopeless. Before I knew it, tears had sprung to my eyes and I quickly turned away to wipe them away. Meadow caught a glimpse of me and asked what was wrong and I quickly muttered something about my eyes watering, before going in to wipe my tears away.
In that moment I realized that this would be the last time I would stand with Meadow while waving good-bye to the older kids. I realized that next year, I would stand alone and watch three kids walk into the world. . . without me.
In a moment, I was struck with such a fierce wave of emotion that it took all my energy not to be overwhelmed by it. The impending change. The unknowns ahead. Endings. Beginnings. All of these expose my greatest weaknesses.
An hour after Meadow and I waved good-bye to her siblings, we climbed into the car and headed to her pre-school graduation rehearsal. (Pre-school graduation is serious business.) When we arrived, I had my coffee in hand and a book in my purse, ready to pass the time while listening to four and five year olds sing happy tunes. When we walked into the classroom, I learned that I didn’t need to stay for the rehearsal.
I can leave?
Wait. . . say that again. . . a free hour?
I looked around and noticed that I wasn’t the only Mom feeling a bit out of sorts at swallowing this news. I stopped and confirmed with another Mom. . . it’s okay to leave? Like, we can go? We can have an hour?
Yep, my fellow preschool Mom informed me, we can go.
I felt a bit lost at first. Okay. . . well. . . what should I do? It wasn’t quite long enough to go home. I started my car and mindlessly drove until I landed in a grocery store parking lot. I quickly opened my recipe app and searched for “healthy dinner ideas”. I only vaguely noticed the items I scrolled passed before mindlessly walking into the store and purchasing three avocados and a bag of spinach. (Which, I’ll have you know, I still haven’t used.)
I climbed back into my car and looked at the clock and realized I still had 45 minutes to kill before I needed to get Meadow. Again, I mindlessly started the car without a destination in mind and found myself parked back at her preschool.
43 minutes until pick up–I made a decision.
I grabbed my book and my purse and got out of the car and walked toward a coffee shop next door. As I walked across the street, without a little hand in mine, without any to-do list, without a computer to work, and without a set agenda for the next 45 minutes, I was surprised by a momentary thought that passed through my mind. . . this is nice, I thought to myself.
This is nice.
For the next 38 minutes I sat in a quiet coffee shop and flipped through my book while intermittently noticing the people walking by the window. In one moment, I closed my eyes and let the quiet soak in while in the next I listened to the conversation between the barista and her customer.
I sat along the wall in the coffee shop and remembered how just an hour and a half ago I was (unsuccessfully) fighting back tears of sadness at the impending change, while in this moment I was enjoying the quiet, the solitude, the space to think.
I’m sad one minute and the next I’m content. I must be going crazy.
Maybe I’m going crazy? Or maybe it’s something else.
I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few days as I’ve continued to feel over-whelming waves of emotions as I anticipate the change in season I’m about to enter. I see how the freedom of extra hours in a day is going to make my life feel less complicated, building a business a bit less daunting, and clearing some of the brain fog with, my goodness, an afternoon run more possible? AND, I see how the absence of a little blonde head when I glance in my rear-view mirror might make my heart ache, and pushing a grocery cart without a little body standing on the cart might feel strange, and an afternoon stroll without a tiny hand tucked into mine. . well, I can barely look at that now.
What I’m learning is that joy doesn’t mean the absence of sadness and sadness doesn’t mean the absence of joy.
I feel joy. Fully.
I feel sadness. Fully.
It’s not either or, rather it’s both and.
In one hand I carry sadness. In the other, joy.
I still recall the days after my Mom passed away. I remember how in the midst of our pain, laughter would creep in. In the moment, it would feel so confusing. How can I laugh at a time like this? How can I feel happy, when my heart is full of pain?
Well, it’s not either or, it’s both and.
Looking over my life (or even last week) I see it everywhere. . . both, and. . .
Sadness AND Joy
Fear AND Courage.
Grief AND Laughter.
Strong AND Weak
Love AND Anger
I’m sure I could go on, but you get the point. The thing is, these feelings are a contradiction that can not be sorted out through logic. My logical brain is so clear that everything is going to turn out okay. My logical brain knows that the change is good and, in fact, life is only going to get better.
Logic, as much as I love her, is no help here.
Instead, I do the only thing I know to do. . . I wade though the feelings. I feel the fullness of each of them–both, and.
I hold them both and allow them to wash over me and give them all the respect they deserve and then, in time, I will come out on the other side better. . . stronger.
I don’t have to choose one or the other. . .I
can choose am both, and.
A few snippets from around here. . .
It’s official, we have three kids in elementary school. . .
Meadow graduated from Pre-School last night and we now have a 6th, 4th and Kindergartener.
For 1 year they will all attend the same school.
We love that the warm weather has brought out outdoor life back . .
So we soak in as much of the evening light as we can. . .
And finding creatures wherever we can. . .
And while we don’t know exactly how we are going to fill all of our summer days together, I’m guessing we’ll figure it out as we go. . .
And enjoy every second of it. . .
Happy Friday, Friends.