Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the freak-out

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.


  1. Love this. I especially love the idea of God asking you about the sunset he sent. If we look around he has given us so so much to enjoy! <3

  2. I had a freak out yesterday too. I will try to see things from God’s perspective more often. Thanks for sharing this. :-)

  3. I've SO been there. Glad to know I"m not alone.

  4. Thanks for sharing! It's nice to know we all go through this occasionally. You're doing the best you can and that's what matters. :)

  5. Celia got her license and has been able to help me lessen the freak outs by having another driver and boy, has it been nice. But sure enough, that call in the dark at 10:00 pm with tears on the other end relaying details of her first fender bender sent me into a whole other realm of freak out. The kind where every moment might just not be enough. Hug 'em hard, Shawni :)

  6. Thank you so much for sharing...I've been feeling the same way the last few days! I needed the reminder!

  7. I totally have days like this too! You are not alone in those freak outs:) This is a talk I read every time I feel overwhelmed. If the general authorities can't do it all then it's ok if I can't either.

  8. I'm glad I'm not the only one:)

  9. I really appreciated reading this. Glad to not be the only one that dreams up these perfect schedule only to never learn that it is unrealistic to accomplish! I don't even have any kiddos yet, but like to think that I am getting some early lessons on minimizing/managing stressful moments like this early : )


  10. Oh man did I need this tonight Shawni! Your cousin, Kara Kelly, is one of my best friends and I love reading your blog. I have a 2 1/2 year old boy, and a 3 1/2 year old boy, and today was one of those days. I have a lot of those where I feel like I cannot do anything right, especially being a mother. Anyway, thanks for this. Love - Ashley Richards

  11. Needed this today. THANK YOU.

  12. I LOVED THIS POST!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! I needed to hear/read this exact post after a day like TODAY!

  13. Man oh man...I have been thinking like that crazy person you described. I really need to stop and smell the roses as well.

    Thanks for making me feel like a normal mom and not a crazy person.


  14. In your honor I'm singing and dancing to Groove Factory's song..."Freak Ou!t" (Smiling now because this may be my era and not yours!

    Yes - it is always the small things that matter. As trite as this saying is "They won't remember what you did but how you made them feel" - it rings true in parenting. Our kids may know we love them but need to FEEL we love them too!

    I have 4 kids - 3 girls; 17, 15, 12 and one boy 10 - and if the road to He*% is paved by my intentions the road to heaven will be paved by my desire to do what is right!

    If you have time in all your freaking out (wink*) I'd love two quick answers to two quick questions...

    1. We are headed to India...after Rising Star (love this program - my nephew just finished it last year!) did you wash clothes along the way (not in the Ganges river) ...but while traveling?

    2. Any food issues or tips?

    I do know that in all y/our efforts to not freak out while trying to be FREAKING amazing - God's love and understanding is beyond FREAKING real for his children...YOU!

    Thanks for keeping it real!


  15. You're doing fine Shawni! I too have 5 children, all grown now, but I remember oh so well when I was running in 5 or more different directions all at once! All I can say is I would give anything to have one day or one hour back again--these are the best moments of your life! Enjoy and don't be too hard on yourself!

  16. LOVE this post! Thank you for the nitty gritty details, that part made me feel better about exactly what I have been struggling with. In the end of every crazy thing I only want my kids to know I love them and am there for whatever, whenever they need!

  17. Well done! It still makes be breath faster thinking about those days. Seeing the perspective is the hard part...which you did so perfectly!

  18. I have a confession: reading this makes me really nervous for children. I have been married for nearly 2 years, and "baby hungry" still hasn't hit me. (To be honest, I've been puppy hungry for about 5.) I feel exhausted just reading about all the places you had to be and the things you had to do. Here's to hoping that the desire and energy will come!

  19. Ahhh...I wanted to cry just reading this because I know all too well how hard days can be sometimes. It's like a snowball effect! The best thing I've ever learned was in a parenting class when my oldest was 2 yrs old; we were told to not take our own frustrations out on our kids. If I am frustrated that my house is a wreck, dinner isn't ready, I've got a zillion things to's not my kids fault. I take a deep breath and get back in the moment. I try really hard to be the same patient mom even if in my head I'm screaming! :) i agree with everything you write and it's truly a breath of fresh air to read your blog. Can I add that I was so surprised to take my daughter to a makeup tumbling class and see her in the same group as your girls? They are just as darling and happy in real life as you portray them to be on your blog. Haha

  20. I find it hilarious (and very reassuring) that someone else calls them "freak-out sessions". I've called them that FOR YEARS, since high school, and always thought it was kind of a weird saying, yet totally applicable to the situation! Ha ha, makes me smile and feel glad I'm not alone. Thanks for sharing!

  21. This comment is unrelated to the post but I just wanted to say thank you for posting about that "Good Habits" app around New Year's. I've been using it since then and I love seeing all my little chains growing longer and longer. I hate breaking them! (Well except for the bedtime one which, honestly, is rarely more than two links long. :/)


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