I've generally been on a roll for the last couple of weeks. I started writing again. I got back to my morning regimen of reading and writing and exercising. I started setting goals to get me back on track for my professional writing direction. I had successfully controlled my work schedule and kept it in check. I was starting to look forward to new things, getting excited . . .
For the last week, though, Janet has been sick, in bed with a fever. I had spent three days with a fever myself just the week before, so I figured it was just my turn to be caretaker for a while. I had forgotten just how much time it takes to make lunches, drive to school three times a day, put dinner on the table, get kids to birthday parties and community events, get kids to bed.
At the end of every day I thought, "It's only a temporary inconvenience, she'll be better tomorrow." And the next turned out exactly the same. And the next day. And the next. Every day I took the kids to school her friends asked, "Is Janet feeling better?" and I saw in their faces the expectation of a 'yes'. Though I didn't understand why, I felt mildly embarrassed that I had to say again, for the fifth time, "No, she's not better, still the same."
For the first few days, I took it in stride. I spent a little more time with the boys than usual, that's all. "This is good. I'm getting a chance to see what her routine is like." And then, "This is a chance for me to count my blessings . . . Thank God I'm not a single parent who has to do this kids-plus-work thing every day." And then, "Ok, this is getting old." And after that, I just grit my teeth and felt annoyed at myself for being annoyed with her for having the audacity to get sick for a solid week. And still not know when it's going to end.
I don't know why I should write about this, except that it makes me extremely aware that emotions have almost nothing to do with rational thought. And that frustration is primarily a function of thwarted expectations. The only cure is to lower expectations . . . which in my case is just to accept that I'm Mr. Mom until proven otherwise, and accept that (almost) nothing on my to-do list is going to get done for an indefinite amount of time. The hardest part of persistence is patience. The work isn't half as bad as the wait.
I talk a much better game than I play here, but for what it's worth, here's where the Eckhart Tolle thing comes in again.
Your job is not to accept that you are Mr. Mom for an indefinite period of time. That's a role, a story you're telling yourself. Your job is to accept the fact that right now, right at this moment, you are spreading peanut butter onto a piece of bread. Right at this moment, you are making a left turn in the mini-van while Aidan screams for your attention. Right at this moment, you are kissing Malcolm good-bye.
Right at this moment, your untended to-do list is floating through your mind...again...and there is nothing you can do about it. That's OK too, float, float, float.
Feel your breath come in and out. Right at this moment, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. So, all right then.