It’s 10:29pm. I’ve already decided that tomorrow will be titled: The Morning that I Get Up Early and Film My Workout before Kids Wake Up and Pack Lunches before Kids Wake Up and Make Breakfast before Kids Wake Up and Be Dressed before Kids Wake Up and Meditate into a State of Organized Bliss in the Face of a Massive To-Do List before Kids Wake Up. I realize this could just be condensed into a more marketable title: Before Kids Wake Up.
And while I’m listing out my shiny morning that is happening before 6:49am tomorrow, it is suddenly 12:54am, which means it’s tomorrow already. I’m not sure quite where the two hours went, but long gone they are. And don’t think for a second that this can be blamed on Netflix. I wish. No, I Wish (capital W). It is then that I have a moment where I contemplate how important it is to A) actually brush my teeth; B) wash my face; C) take out my contacts; D) pee; E) turn off Happy the Bearded Dragon’s UV lights; F) finish that last email; G) solve world problems; H) turn on my alarm for Before Kids Wake Up; and/or I) turn off the lights. And while this contemplation occurs, I drift off into a deep sleep with none of the above having happened, the most glaring oversight being H. And D.
And, so, 7:12am happens and I wake up with my face half off the bed and my computer still glowing and my light still on and Happy having enjoyed the Land of the Midnight Sun and my teeth feeling like slime in the ice machine. Oh, and I have to leave the house in 25 minutes with two kids who will need to eat food for both breakfast and lunch (greedy munchkins) and will need a mom with pants on. Notice I did not say “with two kids who will need matching socks.” That resolution was so 2013. 2014’s is just to wear any sort of foot covering during weather that requires unfrozen tootsies. I find being realistic is the mother of success.
So, courtesy of a rush of stress hormones, I’m catapulted out of bed and already in the kitchen staring at an empty pantry by 7:13am, after which I hear a door slam and a tiny pitter patter of feet running down the hallway. “I wake up. I do it. I DO IT! I do it. ZOMMMMMBIES in my room, momma,” declares the two year old who just learned she can get out of the crib by herself, a milestone only to be appreciated by people who do not have children and do not know what sort of awesomeness that skill leads to in the middle of the night. And, yes, we’re going to avoid the “zombie” comment until a later blog (note: not my fault).
The 7-yr old then groans from her bed, her hair tousled into a million snarls and mind contemplating the latest before-school-disease-acquisition. Before Kids Wake Up, yes ... I woke up. Period. The rest of the to-do list gets revised to After Kids Go to School and Before I Pick Them Up in a Mere Few Tiny Hours.
Yet, somehow, someway, in the 20 minutes I have until we have to exit the house, I manage to put together two lunches made creatively from said empty pantry, get two breakfasts down the hatch, get two bodies in appropriate and relatively clean clothes, turn Happy’s sunshine lights off and then back on quickly with a “fuck it,” let dogs out to pee, listen to the wee one explain to me why dog food is “yummy,” answer two emails, unslime my teeth, and - I think - put pants on. All while the wee one is begging “uppie, momma, uppie” and the elder is asking me over and over about why and how a b o g is different than a b l o g.
And, as we drive off just a few minutes late, the kiddos strapped in their seats and asking to hear Lady Gaga (also not my fault), I get a little high and mighty about my badass shiny superhero self. I even start crawl into the disguise we all do by 8:30am, the one that attempts to say to the world: I Got My Shizzle Together.
Yet. Then. As the perfectly humbling universe would have it, while I wait in the drop off line at school #1, I glance back to see the wee one is holding an industrial sized orange mallet with a certain expression of gleeful destruction seeping through her Chris Farley-like chuckle and the edler sitting in silent terror over the orange mallet’s impending trajectory. And this is the scene that arrives at the feet of the gray-haired, innocent, seemingly ever-calm teacher: Lady Gaga’s Poker Face blaring way too loud, the wee one with a weapon, and the elder shaking like a leaf while clutching her lunchbox and asking me if I remembered to pack actually edible food. Oh, and let’s also not forget to mention that upon opening the back door, Starbucks coffee cups from 2012 and crumbs from that picnic at Hermann Park last June come a-tumbling out. I watch as happy,calm teacher bends over feebly and picks up the escapees, taking a moment of pause before tossing the trash back into the car with a less than subtle shrug.
We’re all a mess.
I mean, heck, even Miley Cyrus came in like a wrecking ball.
Maybe your mess looks different than mine. Maybe your morning is in fact an awesomely published Before the Kids Wake Up. Maybe your car is clean and your world ordered. Maybe you are not constantly having to remember to clean under your fingernails like I am or having to remind yourself that clothes belong, at least once in their lifespan, on a hanger in a closet or maybe your to-dos get done before 12:54am or maybe you pack lunches at night from a full pantry. But, you still are a mess. Somewhere in your life, there’s a mess.
I’m so over all these fancy attempts to fix ourselves of this mess, when instead we could be gifting ourselves the work that is required when we choose to be ourselves. This is a differentiation I am coming to appreciate. Work is not fixing. Work is allowing. Landing. Exposing. Surrendering. Work is all about learning how to let your freak flag fly and learning how to use your “disorder” as a conduit for your own productive operating system. Work is learning how to be surrounded by your internal and external mess and still - STILL - love yourself. Work is about looking at that disguise sitting over there in the passenger seat of your car - the one that is telling you it needs you and that you’re not safe without its armor - and letting it become immaterial.
I’m a mess in so many ways. And I used to think many of them were symptoms of a bigger pathology. I told myself “should” a whole lot and dreamt up so many fixes that could get me to be more in line with whatever marching orders the big scary world barked at me. It felt for a while as if there was some sort of health and peace waiting for me there with open arms. If I could just beat myself into submission, I’d be ... better. If I could just shrink myself a litttttttttttle bit more, that disguise wouldn’t feel so tight.
But. We all get faced with the stuff of life that can no longer be shut away in the closet with the unhanging clothes. And instead of shrinking, we have the chance to expand. And if it’s bad enough (which it often can be), we make the choice to give our mess a support system, which means we decide that not only are we worth being seen, but our mess is too.
I know, I just said the “w” word. W O R T H.
I’ll end with this. In all my years of rehabilitative work with clients, the same thinking always walked in the door: "My body is falling apart. It is - and I am - dysfunctional." But, here’s how I saw it, which is also how I am starting to see myself in a more macro way nowadays: When the human body develops a “dysfunctional” movement pattern or develops chronic pain of any kind, this is a result of a brilliant adaptive response from your nervous system. Your nervous system is just merely trying to do something miraculous. It is entirely focused on keeping your head up on top of a very tenuous and teetering spine. It is trying to keep your eyes on the horizon and to keep you walking and talking and breathing, despite the fact that modern life demands so so so so so so much than our human bodies were really designed to do. Your pain is a sign of resiliency. Every contraindicative movement pattern is just a reminder that your nervous system wants you alive and moving, no matter what the consequence. So, if this is the case, with the human body as a metaphor, then how can we learn to support our nervous system to more effectively and efficiently perform such miracles?
How can we honor that gritty task that it is to get through this odd and beautiful life as ourselves with our freak flags flying bright?
Life is messy. You are messy. Go with it. Support your mess.