Lessons

What should have been a fun family walk to the park tonight became difficult and challenging, then full-out stressful. It happened because, first, I didn't listen to my own feelings and respond accordingly. When my sweet husband asked how long of a walk I was up for, I should have said a short one because the day had been tiring. Instead, we took the long walk. I felt too tired. I snacked on a little of Oak's orange to tide me over until we got home.
Then, I didn't listen to Robby. He knew it was too far to go to the playground at the opposite end of the park, but I was so fixated on my understanding of what our time would look like, I couldn't stay flexible and receptive enough to do the right thing. I also had no idea it was already almost Oak's bedtime. As a result, poor Oak was way overextended - he had to sit too long, we didn't have much time to play, and then it was really late when we walked home. And his mom had stress-eaten his snack-distraction. Then, he hit his head on the stroller when we went over a bump on the sidewalk. Cue meltdown.
Strained energies and sleepiness made the tearful walk home almost unbearable. When I am not in a good place, I tend to project my perceived insufficiencies in a moment as the reasons why anything that is hard or unclear in my life is hard or unclear. Pumping my sore legs and pushing with sweaty hands, I fought back my own meltdown the whole way home. It helped that my gentle husband carefully corralled the dogs and tried to be positive and patient, but I felt even worse for messing up this chance for a nice time together.
I got my act together once we were home and my boy was tended to and fast asleep. First, food to take care of the dizziness. Then laying down to rest tired body and spirit. Some tears to relieve the stress. A kiss to my hubby and gratitude. Then a pause to reflect on my lessons.
They sounded simple, even rudimentary, when I considered them: Trust yourself, Mandy. You know best what you need and want. Listen to people who know you well. Trust your intuition and understanding. When in doubt, be less ambitious and more present. Remember that everyone has times they disappoint themselves and their family. Remember that you are doing the best you can.
As I slipped into judging the reality that I am still learning these lessons, I suddenly recalled sitting in the grass at the park, hot and frustrated, wrestling Kairi and Roxas on their leashes, and huffily looking at the playground for Robby and Oak. I thought of the moment I spotted them:Robby with a big smile, holding up his arms for a push, and Oak flying with joy in a swing, rising higher and higher into the air with mounting delight. They took my breath away.
Their complete happiness readjusted my internal posture in that moment. Tears, happy tears, sprang to my eyes. Those are my precious boys, I thought, my dear, beloved boys, so fully in the *now* and captivated by the fun that they aren't worried about getting it right or wrong. And the mistake I made in pushing us there led to a moment of beauty. My puppies even enjoyed watching them play. Mercy glowed around me like the setting sun and the love of my two, wise teachers.
Thank goodness I have a lifetime to make mistakes, find the small graces in the paths they create, and walk with companions who help me to see what it's all about. What a gift, this bittersweet, long walk of a life that makes our bodies ache but leaves our hearts full. How poignant it is to struggle and enjoy, then fall into rest with the knowledge that the spectrum of experiences come part and parcel to one another, and it is good.
Sweet dreams, one and all, and mercy on you tonight.