Every single night, I know it’s coming. Jammies are on. Teeth are brushed and flossed. Sister nonsense and shenanigans have fizzled out… It’s bedtime. And as the littlest one is climbing the ladder up to her loft bed, she’s already asking, in that uncertain and pleading tone, “Are you coming up?”
Big sigh. Am I coming up? I should. I definitely should. I know I should. But it’s 9:07. Already seven minutes past bedtime. And I’m just so freakin’ tired. But she asks again. And I can’t say no. Some nights I do. But most nights I don’t. Because time. Because childhood. Because I want to smush her with love. Because the ticking clock of life. Because guilt. Because. Because. Because.
Gah. It’s a lot. Isn’t it? This constant pressure to make every moment count. To be present. To be our best selves. To not miss a moment. To cherish every moment. To not disappoint our kids and ourselves and all of the people who only WISH they were tucking in children…Etc. Etc. Etc. Do you hear what I’m saying? It. Is. A. Lot.
After my first husband died, I went through this phase of loss where you think of all the things you’d do differently. If only you could go back. If only you had another chance. I used to think to myself, if I could only go back, I’d never bitch about wet towels on the floor again. He used to leave them everywhere and it drove me nuts. And in the disillusioned hindsight and rose colored glasses of grief, I actually thought if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t complain about wet towels. But as the years went by and my grief had dulled to a lower level of heartache, I revisited those thoughts. And now I disagree. I think I would. I’m afraid to say I think I would still probably bitch about wet towels.
Because here’s the thing: We’re still human. We can’t help it. We try. We do our best. But it seems we still cannot escape the dailyness of life that creates a rut that pretty much keeps us right where we’re at. We still get tired. We still get aggravated. We still feel stressed or depressed or disinterested. We are still selfish and self-centered and we forget. We just forget. Because we’re human. And honestly, in some ways, I think it’s okay.
It’s not entirely realistic or even enjoyable to live every present moment under the auspice of the Lifetime Ticking Clock.
A few weeks ago, I was driving the same littlest one to school, and as we were happily singing along to the radio, (because you know you have to be making good memories every second of the day, right? Kidding. Kidding) the jerk driver behind me didn’t care for my driving and pulled way up close and shouted, “Asshole!” And listen– my driving wouldn’t win any prizes— seriously. And I admit that. But I think screaming A-hole at me was a bit extreme. (And because I’m me, my feelings always get a little hurt by rude drivers. C’mon. I’m a lot of things. But not THAT.) And on top of it all, DIDN’T YOU SEE THE LITTLE GIRL SITTING HERE???
And as crazy as this sounds (and I know it sounds crazy), what I really wanted to yell back was, “Don’t you remember 9/11?!!! Did you forget?? That we’re all neighbors and Americans and supposed to be good to each other???”
Jerk probably took his flag down already, too.
But of course he did. Of course he forgot. Because he’s human. And because for whatever reason, we just can’t sustain that level of awareness long enough. Oh sure, some of us can, for some things. But not most of us. And not for everything. And so it seems we somehow always just ease back into being ourselves. Doing the best we know how and hoping it’s enough. Making tiny strides out of the ruts when we can. When we remember. Let it be enough, I think to myself. Please, let it be enough.