I braced myself for the jolt of the wheels as they hit the tarmac. Home. Light flooded my face with happiness. I could feel it. True happiness at the thought of coming home to the ones I loved, and who loved me. That is where my home is.
The children were still at school, and my husband arranged to pick me up himself. I stopped at customs to declare my shoes, which had remnants of my last bike ride in Laos. Then, I walked through the automatic doors, dragging my bag behind me, expecting to meet my husband in the car park near the airport.
But there he was! Standing, taller and even more handsome than I remembered, with hands full of flowers, eye sparking; and that smile with the slightly awkward stance: it took me back to the early days of our courtship. I didn’t see or notice the gathered crowd. It was one of those magical moments where the world didn’t exist; it was just us.
We laughed on the walk to the car, and my husband mentioned, that really, we shouldn’t be so giddy after almost 14 years of marriage. Ah, it felt good to be happy. We’ve surely been through tough, tough, not-so-happy times, I can tell you. Yet, true love can endure and mature into something more than attraction, and so very often, love is proved in the hard times. Yes. Refined into something of depth and beauty.
I can’t remember our conversation on the short drive to Matt’s work. It didn’t matter. Afterwards, I rushed home for a shower in time to surprise the children at afternoon school pick up. A “Mum!” exclamation and big hugs from my four greeted me. Home, home, home. HOME! Happiness!
Yet, as a new day dawned, I felt the beginnings of heaviness hang over me in a restless wind. I hit the ground running. Back into family life: basket ball game, soccer, washing, cooking. I found myself saying throughout the day, “We need to have family time.” “What are we doing as a family today?” “I have so much to do.”
I cycled 300 ks through majestic mountains in Laos. Incredible! There’s this yearning inside me to tell stories of the people I met in Laos; to make a difference. Opportunity! The happiness I felt at coming home at the end of my journey was overwhelmingly wonderful. Joyous! All of this emotion: it hit me, sudden-like, I felt a silent panic settle over me.
I struggled with the feeling of restlessness all day. Restlessness that hampered the enjoyment of being home, like a joy-stealing thief, strangling silently. It wasn’t a bad day by any stretch. Just a regular Saturday. The day wasn’t the problem, it was me. At the day’s end, my husband said a few lines in one of our conversations that struck me. Before I tell what he said, I need to explain a little more about this man I married. You see, he’s an easy-going, unpretentious, what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of person. He doesn’t over-think things like I do. We often joke about how polar we are…how I’m plagued by my depth and he by surface thinking. Yet, many times he comes out with just the right thing in a direct concise way (here’s another example) that brings stability to my thinking. I guess our differences create balance in our personalities.
He said to me. “Kelly, you don’t need to save the world every day.”
He said it kindly, without condescension. In fact, the words were full of compassion, weighted with the knowledge of how overwhelmed I feel sometimes. There’s a lot of significance in those words for me.
None of us have to save the world every single day, do we? And we don’t need to conquer the complexities of parenting in one day either, do we? It’s a trick of the all-or-nothing that I often get caught in.
The words struck me heavily because I think big — so much (too much) sometimes — and I just don’t know where to start. Then, an unproductive merry-go-round starts. The words from my husband stopped me from getting on the merry-go-round in the first place.
Continuing, he addressed yet another comment from me about ‘family-time’.
“Today was all it should be. We ARE family; even when we’re not together. We ARE having family time: the running here and there today. And tonight — the movie night: we all laughed and the kids were happy — it was all it should be.”
And so it was. Yes, yes, so it was. It WAS all it should be.
There was no rebuke in the words, only perspective, and they made me feel loved — blessed — to have someone to gently prod me back to the centre line.
And so I’ll stop trying to make everything ‘just right’ and allow myself the grace to adjust. I’ll stop trying to fabricate family time and simply BE in the family. The unintentional arrogance of my save-the-world mentality is in check.
You don’t need to save the world every single day Kelly. You can’t save the world every day. Don’t fall into the trap of being overwhelmed! One day at a time, moment by moment: it counts.