With Different Eyes

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After spending five quiet days on the Cape with no schedule, no agenda, no To Do List and being responsible for no one other than myself, coming back home to my two kids, my mom, my sister and my seriously neurotic old terrier was … well… a bit of an adjustment. I can’t say I dreaded coming home but I wasn’t sure I was completely ready either. I drove home on Monday, stopping only long enough to grab a quick lunch before picking up both kids from their respective schools and the dog from the kennel. Homework needed to be done, including a project for Andrew’s Confirmation which was a day late and needed to dropped off at the parish center Monday evening. With everyone having been sick, the refrigerator was empty so I ended up taking the boys out to dinner. Tuesday morning, it was back to work and I settled back into what passes for a normal life around here.

As Friday rolled around, I was glad I had decided to keep my usual day off. My day off included my usual everyday stuff. I got up at 5 to take the dog out and found she’d had a bad night, so I mopped the entire kitchen floor with bleach water, took the poor old dog out, carried her down the porch steps and then back up, fed her, went back to bed for about an hour, got up and got Andrew to school, fixed and ate my breakfast and sipped my tea while posting to several social media pages that I manage besides my own, woke Eugene up and drove him to school, all by 8:30. Then there was a double load of ‘dog laundry’ – the old quilts and towels that I use to line her crate – that needed to go to the laundromat, which was crowded for a weekday. And yet, I still managed to be done and at the beach by 10.

As I looked back over the five days I had spent on the Cape and then the five days that I had been home, I realized just how much I do, and for the most part do cheerfully, on any given day. Even my so-called ‘lazy’ days are full of the hundred little things that simply must get done. I realized how precious little credit I give myself for doing what I do. I have a very nasty habit of seeing the long list of things I don’t get done, especially on the days when the RA has flared and I simply can’t keep up my usual pace. I let my frustrations blind me.

When I was on retreat a number of years ago, I went to confession and the priest actually stopped me mid-confession, held up one finger and said, “Can I… just… add… one more to that…?”

I was so taken aback I wasn’t about to bicker with him. His addition? That I’m far too hard on myself. It was something I’ve been told repeatedly over the last decade but I never quite let it sink in. My pastor even went so far as to remind me that I am, in fact, simply human and asked me would I pretty please just ease up on myself maybe a fraction of an inch.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I couldn’t see what they saw. All I could see was what I didn’t do or what I hadn’t done right. That long list I keep in the back of my head of Bad Mom moments, short tempered rants, or important tasks that I blew off. I couldn’t see the exhaustion, raw physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that led to those moments.

This week has been different. I feel almost as if I’ve been watching someone else, as if somehow I’ve stepped out of my own skin. Somehow I’m seeing myself with different eyes, eyes that are far more kind than I have ever been.

There are things that haven’t gotten done this week. There are moments that didn’t go at all well this week. I quit keeping track. And you know what happened? Not a damn thing. The world kept right on spinning and life went on.

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