Summer has ended, school has started, every light bulb in the house seems to have burned out at exactly the same moment. Laundry baskets are over-full and the calendar is empty as I have yet to download all the dates for the things swimming in my head onto paper.
I keep telling myself to relax and meditate. I have been very focused on mindfulness. So I guess I forgot that feeling, that emotion that is essential to my happiness and the happiness of my children. That’s what I’m after, right? Not just success or accomplishment, not just meeting goals and being productive and getting ahead. I want to be happy and I want my kids to be happy. And have fun. Fun! That’s the ticket.
It came to me like a whack upside the head as I punched away at the boxing bag at the Y at 5:30 in the morning. I was doing my special box-dancing routine to the amazingly awesome and inspiring sound of Adam Levine’s voice when the thought occurred like a lightning bolt.
I’d been so confused, so unsettled. I hadn’t slept much, worrying about my kids, my marriage, my house, my family, what to do, where to go. All of a sudden, I was smiling! My feet were moving almost without me realizing it, my arms pushed out against the bag in rhythm with the beat, and I was happy!
I started laughing. All my tarot and reiki, all my astrology readings and animal medicine cards, all my books and articles and alcohol.
Everything else paled in comparison to really having fun.
I wanted to strip off my gloves and run home and wake up the kids and start dancing with them around their room. Let’s dance, and sing, and laugh! I wanted to say. We’re too serious! Let’s have fun!
It occurred to me, as I continued to punch and sway and twirl around the bag, smiling all the while, I don’t need to be mad at things my husband says, or the thing the neighbor said, or the things my kids do. If I’m having fun, and I’m happy, those things roll right off my back, but if I’m not, and I’m angry.
My mind raced with excitement, and then, like any fire, the flame began to fade. Right. Fun. But there are still those light bulbs that need to be changed, the laundry that needs to be folded, the kids’ after-school activities still needed to be sorted for them to.
I thought about it, and wondered if I had even told them why I was so adamant that they get into activities. At dinner the night before, my high-schooler had mentioned something to my middle-schooler about dance being good “cause it’ll help you get into college.” I had corrected him. “He still has to get into high school.”
I shuddered as I thought of it. No! No! No! Dance was good because it was fun!
I had to remind myself to be fearless. I wasn’t going to succumb to the neighborhood norms, to the national American pastime of worrying, always, about the next thing. No! We were going to continue to do things we wanted to do because they made us happy. That was going to have to be the way.
I loved boxing. I loved dancing. I loved music. That is why I walk out in the dark, in the rain, in the wee morning hours to get to the gym. I had to remember to apply the same logic to my kids’ lives: They were unlikely to do things in their lives that they didn’t enjoy, so it was going to have to be up to them to figure what gave them joy.
I burst into the house with excitement and loud hellos. It was quiet and still dark, everyone just barely out of bed.
“You know, don’t you, why I think it’s important that you look around for clubs and things, don’t you?” I said to my bed-headed 14-year-old. He mumbled something as he searched for his backpack.
“Because, I want you to have fun,” I said. “That’s really important. Okay?.”
He nodded sleepily.
“Sure,” he said, with a “whatever” in his tone.
Still, I was excited. I had my marching orders in hand, I was ready. There are other things to be concerned about, certainly. But, if in the midst of a storm, we do not remember what gets us going, the things that make us smile and step a little lighter in our shoes.
But we need to.