Lately I feel like my life is like a video game where you have to add people or animals to either side of a scale or the mast of a ship (yes, a video game for young children) to keep it balanced or prevent the ship from sinking. Something bad happens, then something good happens. I guess that’s what keeps me from sinking too. While we would all hope for more good than bad, we know life’s not like that.
Here’s what’s been playing with my emotional equilibrium in recent days.
I hired a handyman who came today and repaired a number of broken things in our house. He accomplished all these tasks that had confounded my husband and me for weeks, months, or in some cases, years, in less than two hours. On the one hand I was frustrated that it took me so long to get someone out here, but I’m glad I finally did get the things fixed. You’re welcome to come over and plug something into our outlet, sit on our bed without it breaking, use all our sinks without them flooding, dry your hands on a towel without collapsing the drywall, or sit on a toilet seat that doesn’t wobble.
I am disappointed that I didn’t get a substantial writing project for which I submitted a proposal, and that one of my largest clients is out of money (hopefully temporarily). The former was discouraging, but not surprising, since I didn’t think I had exactly the experience the organization was seeking, and the latter sent me briefly into a panic-induced flurry of marketing. The good news is that the process of creating that proposal made me rethink the way I work and helped me realize I haven’t been charging the right fee for some of the work I do. I also made a new contact in the local education arena, where a lot of my clients are. More good news is that, while conducting an interview today for this financially distressed client, I had the opportunity to catch up with a former colleague, also a consultant, who said she works with many groups that need writing and social media help. So I was able to pitch my services to her.
There’s always Glee. Despite my sister’s frequent pronouncements that the show is ridiculous and she will never watch again (and then, of course, she can’t help herself and tunes in), I am still a loyal fan. I have watched every episode and downloaded almost every song. I like the characters. I love the music. And I always laugh at the one-liners. Glee never fails to cheer me up after a bad day. Next Tuesday is the season finale and I know I will be sad when it’s over. Reruns are not the same.
Everyone I know seems to be buying a new house or having a new baby. While we would very much like to do both (certainly the baby more than the house, although having a baby would definitely make the house part more urgent) and haven’t been able to so far, I am thankful we have a house. We live in a great community. We have enough rooms for everyone to sleep, eat, play, work, and pee in. There’s a new shopping center featuring a super-Giant opening up down the street from our house next month. Our house has not been flooded, like many along the Mississippi in recent weeks, or blown to bits, like those in Alabama and elsewhere during recent tornadoes. We have a house, and not everyone does. And we have a phenomenal child, and not everyone who wants one does.
Which brings me to Zoe. While the stubbornness inherent in four-year-olds is clearly manifest in Zoe, and the refusal of her bladder disorder to abate continues to frustrate us, she is a wonder. I marvel at her compassion and sweetness, as she takes every opportunity to give me hugs and kisses and frequently wants to rub my back to make me happy. Yesterday at soccer she was focused and engaged and didn’t take any extra water breaks. The coach said Zoe’s ball control was impressive! This is the first soccer practice in which she appeared to be paying much attention at all to what she was supposed to be doing. The other night at my favorite taco joint Zoe discovered that she loves black beans and has been asking for them ever since. A few days ago after a babysitter left, Zoe said they’d been playing day care with her dolls. While I felt a pang of mommy-guilt that day care has been such a significant part of Zoe’s experience that she incorporates it into her imaginary play, I am thankful that she has become so adaptable and is glad to meet and play with new babysitters. Day care is the reality for most families I know, and we’ve made sure Zoe’s caregivers were kind and compassionate, and she’s learned something from all of them. Zoe is always excited about going new places, making new friends, and trying anything for the first time. She’s a role model for me in that way, and reminds me of the right attitude to have in life. I’m also proud of her for volunteering to part with several of her stuffed animals so we can send them to kids who live in war zones, orphanages, or have experienced disasters, to provide them with something soft to hug. She’s a good kid.
Zoe has a Berenstain Bears book called Count Your Blessings, in which the bear cubs are scared during a thunderstorm and reflect on the relative importance of family versus material things. Somehow Zoe conflated the message about appreciating what you have with the method for determining how close a thunderstorm is. For the past few days when it’s been storming, she’s said, “Let’s count our blessings!” And then starts to count off after she hears thunder. I explained the difference between counting thunder and blessings. I think she got it. But we do count our blessings. Every night at bedtime we each share three things we’re thankful for. I’m trying to cultivate that feeling of gratitude in her, but it’s always a great reminder for me of how lucky I am. On balance, I’ve got everything I need.