How to Embrace Everything
Updated: Sep 1, 2019
Summer is finally coming to an end. I don't know about the rest of you, but I am pretty tuckered out. Lots of travel - planes, trains and automobiles - and lot of adventures with the family. Lots of food and friends. Lots of movies, roller coasters, fireflies, late nights, pajama ice cream runs, thunderstorms, sunscreen and bug bites.
And a whole lot of planning mixed in there, too. Even seemingly spontaneous events take some measure of planning, which the kids never know about because they just need to hop in the car and go along for the ride. I am a great planner of meals. I am awesome at planning a PTA meeting. But planning events and activities is harder for me. I struggle with the unknown - where to park, where to eat, where to use the restroom. I struggle with the uncertainty of traveling somewhere I haven't been before. And I don't want to be responsible if things don't pan out the way we thought. So I often rely on my husband to fill out our social calendar. Until I can't. Like when he's in San Francisco and I'm in Atlanta....all summer. If I don't get off my duff and plan, we aren't going much of anywhere. So with all of the anxiety and stress, I force myself to work through trying something new. For the sake of my kids. For the sake of our summer together. And that makes summer exhausting.
This summer - our 5th away from California and on the East Coast - I am particularly proud of my efforts to make it a summer worthy of blogging about. I planned. But I did more than plan. I tried to embrace that crazy that IS doing new things and trying new things and helping your kids learn to be explorers of the world. Here is what I learned:
1. Embrace the mess. Ice cream on pajamas is messy. Napkins are a great plan but generally an epic fail. PJs can be washed. So can grubby little hands, sticky faces, sticky car windows and car seats. A mess is not a disaster, unless I decide for it to be. So I won't.
2. Embrace the unexpected. A thunderstorm absolutely ruined our plans to stay at the amusement park, but made way for a fun dinner with family, drying off inside while the storm raged without us standing in it. Plans do change. That doesn't have to mean that all is lost or the fun is gone. Being an example of someone who can roll with the punches and adapt to something unknown is a great lesson for our kids to learn and will take them very far in life. Unexpected things are part of life. Find a way to make it work for you. Protect yourself from the narrative that says things working out differently than planned must be less valuable or less enjoyable. I think there is a saying about lemons and lemonade that might apply here....
3. Embrace the work. Hauling ourselves through the amusement park is one thing. Doing it while pushing grandma in a wheelchair, in 100 degree heat, with 100 percent humidity, while hungry, a tad bit dizzy from the last ride you probably should have skipped and needing to use the restroom....that is work. But you trudge along. And that work pays off because the kids never stopped smiling. And I burned some ridiculous calories that day, too. Planning and doing and living does indeed take work. The alternative is - missing out on what is waiting there for you. So I guess we have to get to work.
4. Embrace each other. Lots of hugs. Lots of affection. Not just for my kids but for others with me who are willing. Generally, my friends know I'm a hugger. Greeting my closest girlfriends at a small gathering on my last night in DC was full of hugs and affection. This connection that is renewed through hugs and physical closeness is clearly the easiest of things for me to embrace, but I would encourage more hesitant huggers to give it a try. Feeling connected, loved and like you belong is priceless. Hugs do that for me each and every time.
5. Embrace the temporariness of everything. I think heading back to my hometown reminded me that all things change. The landscape changes. My secret parking lot downtown changes. The former neighbor's house changes. Everything does not have to be frozen in time to be meaningful. Objects change and the landscape around us changes. People change, too. What the kids liked last summer will not be the same this time around. That's how it is supposed to be. I vowed to not get upset when my daughter refused a tea party because she has outgrown those already. (Last month, she was fine with it. Tea parties are SO July, I guess).
6. Embrace your weaknesses and use them to rise above your own expectations. Identifying what you are not good at and turning around and doing the very thing you doubted about yourself is totally boss. I detest city driving. City parking. I almost declined a tour of the Capitol because I knew it was going to be such a hassle. But we split the difference by driving some, walking some, Ubering some. I used my resources (read Google) and navigated the night before. I checked out traffic. I found parking ahead of time and a contingency plan for that parking, which I actually ended up needing. Proving to yourself that you actually CAN do that thing you try not to do or hate doing - well I can't think of anything that better deserves a Jamocha shake from Arby's. Pushing the wheelchair uphill through Busch Gardens gets pretty darn close, too.