Whenever I have a little freak-out session I always think about my sister.
It’s not because she freaks out a lot (although she does a little…I think it runs in our family).
But because there’s this ride she loves in the carnival that comes to her little town outside Boston now and then.
And it’s called “The Freak-Out.”
I don’t know what the ride really is because I’ve never actually been fortunate enough to ride it, but I picture it being something that sways violently from side to side, just like my own freak-out sessions do.
Yesterday I think my heart raced all day long. From early in the morning ‘til late at night I was dropping that ball and was running late to every single thing. It wasn’t that it was out of the ordinary because it wasn’t. We are overscheduled just like every other family here in our little corner of the world and we actually made some crazy deliberate decisions to be this way for one reason or another. But for some reason the stars all aligned yesterday to make for a good freak-out session.
It all started the night before when Dave and I lay in bed and I wearily asked him if he believes the saying “The road to H-E-double-hockey sticks is laid with good intentions.” Because boy howdy I sure have a lot of those things. I told him I wonder if God really does know that in my heart there is so much good I want to do. I wonder if He gets so frustrated that I don’t get to everyone and everything because I don’t prioritize right and I have to keep learning the same old lessons. Sometimes I picture Him talking me through my life after I’m gone from here and lovingly nodding at some of the things I’ve done, like they’re all fine and good in the world’s perspective, but asking how I missed helping so-and-so or how I could have forgotten to prioritize such-and-such.
So the next day, determined to see the little things and miraculously balance my life out, I set out on my routine of scrambling from one thing to the next. After the regular craziness of morning and getting kids out the door with kisses and lunches and homework and getting the laundry going we met with a bunch of contractors at the new house and went over some big decisions. Anyone who knows me knows decisions stress me out like nobody’s business especially really important ones like these so my heart was already racing when I ran to Costco to restock our bare cupboards and get the snack I was in charge of for the tennis tournament after school. I always think I can do Costco faster than I can so I was 20 minutes late to pick up Grace for her orthodontist apt. 20 minutes away and as she lamented over which color of elastics she should get this time around I tried to think through how I was going to cover my bases after school.
If I could time it just right I could get the snack to the high school, come grab Lucy from the bus and get Claire and all their paraphernalia in the car and race to drop off Claire’s tennis carpool and go straight to Lucy’s swim lesson then maybe I could still catch the end of Elle’s tennis tournament (IF Lu would be compliant enough to accompany me still wet from swimming without wailing and I could figure out a ride for Claire from tennis straight to soccer). No possibility of making Max’s volleyball tournament but I’d catch that next time.
But of course we were late from the orthodontist, the snack was late to the high school (I think they survived just fine) and Lucy’s bus happened to be early. I waited for a full 13 minutes only to realize it had already come.
That’s when the freak-out started. I freaked out on the phone to my friend trying to figure out where our bus girls could have gone because them being on time was the piece in my domino-effect plan that needed to be in place. I freaked out zooming back to the school to figure out if they were brought back there. I freaked out to Claire who was crying cause she had a bad day. I freaked out that there was still laundry covering the table and chairs in the kitchen and I hadn’t had the foresight to start dinner earlier. I freaked out in my head when in the midst of the commotion I got a couple texts from one of my cute Young Women who needed something I had forgotten to get to her the day before. I freaked out (and even shed a few tears) while I took Claire late to tennis and when Lu wailed and wailed after swim lessons cause she forgot to get her Dum-Dum-good-swimmer-award-sucker.
But at some point in my freak-out tirade I stopped short and came to my senses. In the whole scheme of things, who cares about all that stuff? Sure, I don’t want to put people out by being late and Dave and I do want to expose our kids to sports and extracurricular things that can push them and help them learn life lessons. And I can always work on getting a better balance.
But what really matters is whether or not I showed love and compassion and brought joy to myself and those around me. And all that freak-out business doesn’t really help that. But it sure helps me ponder.
I thought of that interview I envision with God some day and pictured Him coaching me along. “Stop to listen to that sweet daughter of yours” I’m sure he would say. Or “Did you stop for long enough to notice that beautiful sunset I sent to cheer you up?” but most especially: “take it easy on yourself…you’re doing your best!”
Dave and I never finished our conversation in bed the night before. Apparently I was out cold before he could give me his philosophy on the “good intentions” thing. But I’m pretty sure he wanted to tell me the same thing I think God would: calm down. (That’s why I chose “peace” as my “one-word” motto for this year.) It’s ok. Life is just a series of growing experiences where we do our best and love others around us which creates joy in the ride.
Just like “The Freak-Out” ride in Boston must after how I imagine it crazily shakes from side to side, I gradually calmed down and came to a stop. And just like I imagine that ride makes you less afraid next time you ride it, my own little “freak-outs” give me a little more to ponder, a little different perspective, and help me try to slow my heart down and just “Love More.”
I’m not glorifying the “freak-out,” just thankful for what it taught me yesterday.