“Can I schedule a time to wonder?” I wondered this morning as I finally sat down to write.
I had a hard time falling asleep last night.
I was excited about getting 5 WHOLE DAYS OFF.
In my head I can see time stretching before me. No deadlines or emails. The garage was cleaned last weekend. The laundry is almost caught up. Just the thought of me doing me got my heart racing.
I lay in bed trying to sleep but it was NOT HAPPENING. I wanted so badly to wake bright eyed and ready to have an amazing and unfettered and creatively wondrous day. Instead of sleeping I watched datelines until my eyelids drooped heavy and the last thing, I remember hearing was about some ex-hockey player getting life for killing his wife.
As a result of my bad decisions in the face of my insomnia I woke sluggish. My eyes opened reluctantly at the time they do every morning which is somewhere between 4:30 and 5. Smokey Magic started walking all over me, her purring getting louder and louder the longer I stayed under the covers.
The smell of coffee walked me downstairs and the anticipation of drinking a hot cup of coffee without the drums of work in the distance, woke me.
I turned on the Christmas tree lights their seductive wink masking the chaos. As I heated Smokey’s breakfast. Yes. You read that correctly. I pop her wet food into the micro for 7 seconds so it is like eating a fresh kill, or so I imagine. She rubbed all over my legs in anticipation. Smokey contentedly ate her “fresh killed” chicken and I stalked down my favorite mug and created the perfect concoction of raw sugar and cream mixed until the coffee was a dark caramel.
Steam swirled around as I bent over to unlatch Smokey’s door and I sipped perfection as I took the stairs back to my snow-white comforter.
One of my favorite things to do is to watch a movie very early in the morning, before anyone else is up, sipping coffee, snuggled into my blankets.
I started to unwind despite the guilt and unease and I let myself get enfolded into Midnight Sky on Netflix. I just finished the book and have been eagerly awaiting its premier. It did not disappoint. I found myself crying with so many questions running through my head…
What kind of American am I? Was one of the questions that popped into my head as I watched the credits roll. What kind of woman? Are Humans essentially good? What will happen to us? Can we save the planet? Just as I was getting up to write what I was thinking the sound of the kids calling out to one another from their beds wafted down the hallway.
Outside my window it was still densely gray but here and there the outline of a branch peeked around the fraying edges of a fog still reluctant to make way for sunrise.
With a sigh, I reversed course and headed back downstairs to prep the Prime Rib for tomorrow. Just a little bit longer, I promised myself.
Prime Rib scored and salted and dry aging in the fridge I headed back upstairs. You’d think with all this stair climbing I would be as lithe as a gazelle. I wish.
The kids were still in bed ,half asleep. I knew I had to hurry if I wanted to have some private time for prayer and writing. But just as soon as I was done praying, the kids were up, and it was time for breakfast. Resentment kept time with my heartbeat.
I wanted to fight the resentment off and keep the calm that had filled me after praying so I grabbed Mary Oliver’s Devotions. I let the kids choose and they chose While I Am Standing Here and I read it out loud as the they ate. The words rose and fell in a steady motion matching the gentle sway of her thoughts. Mary takes ordinary actions and turns them into a melody.
That poem asks what prayer is and invites you to answer—privately. She conjures images of stillness and I could see it resonate with the kids.
After reading I realized that my pleasure at sharing poetry over breakfast was partially derived from my idea of what it looked like to others. The picture I had created was for some invisible audience that would approve. GOOD MOM. I could hear them say.
I sat there with this other audience observing the dining table disarray. It was missing its special Christmas cloth as one of the kids had spilled milk all over it the night before. Two chairs do not match the other two chairs. Pencils, tape, scissors, wrapping paper share space with the butter dish and jar of jam. The tally of what was wrong with me and this moment rolled through my thoughts like a ticker tape at the bottom of a newscast.
Maybe there won’t be presents next year….
You won’t get all your projects done for your job and your boss will be disappointed…
The kids are fucked up and it’s your fault…
The house is crumbling around your ears…
I wish I could make a magic potion that I could drink and then presto…I would be free.
I pulled myself together thinking of the peace of my meditation before my prayers. Of the sounds of birds chirping as they fluttered through the tree. The sparkle of dew on the plant I had watered. The dried orchid blossom inside the hand carved wooden box on my writing desk. The soft feel of the polished stones of my rosary. The silence as I plugged into the universe and felt its vibrancy and light.
I mopped up the yolk of my eggs and savored the last bite of my bacon and with my mouth half full suggested that the kids open one of their presents.
They smiled and joked as they unwrapped their gift from Smokey. Smokey is bad at gift wrapping, I explained to the audience.
And then the ticker tape started back up. So much to clean…I haven’t written yet…I am wasting my free time…my room is dirty
I marched myself to my office and pushed myself into my writing chair. Sit down. Shut up. Just write.
There is never going to be a day that everything is done at the office. There will always be cobwebs on the Haunted Nativity that was set up 11 years ago and hasn’t been dusted since. Someone will most likely spill milk on the special Christmas Table Cloth again. There is always going to be chaos and a long list of chores.
The wonders in my life can be found in the choices I make with the time I am given.