Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Catching my breath

Life goes by in such a whirlwind that I sometimes wonder when the earth started spinning at double speed; each day is filled to the brim with so many things to do, and we cram as much into the day as possible, but still, every day we run out of time. This is both a blessing and a curse: we're NEVER bored, usually tired, always busy. This is how I like it, but sometimes I just wish that I could slow things down.

Right now, I'm doing my best to do that.

Preschool is finished for the year, swimming lessons are finished for a while (I've decided to spend pool time with Tessa this summer without official lessons), the Race is over, my major 3-Day fundraising events are over (though I am still soliciting funds - I am well short of my goal and would TRULY appreciate any support you can give), I've survived my MRI...and it's time to catch my breath.

Yesterday Tessa and I went to soccer class, then hung out afterwards for a leisurely play-time at the park's play structure nearby, then met friends for coffee in the Junction. The afternoon was reserved for chores, and then we met 3-Day friends at Greenlake for a walk around the lake. After Greenlake, I dropped Tessa off at Ryan's office and they caught the bus home (a grand adventure for TK!), and I went to a Young Survivor's meeting at Gilda's Club. This may seem like a busy day to some, but to me it was a breath of fresh air! We weren't rushed, we spent lots of time out of doors, and I got a bit caught up around the house. A great day, overall.

Today, we went to the gym (I ran on the treadmill while Tessa and Zoe played at the kids' gym), then we hopped in the car and went to the zoo. I'd packed a picnic, and so we had fun hanging out in the grass for our lunch, watching the other families, eating, and even running around some. I brought bubbles, and while I packed up our blanket etc. the girls had a great time blowing bubbles everywhere - such a simple pleasure! We walked all over the zoo - including the incredible butterfly garden - until the girls complained about how tired they were, and then hopped into the car to go to Alki to meet Jenny and drop Zoe off. We came home, did chores for an hour (Tessa was content to hang in her room) and then Heather and kids came over for a simple grilled dinner, more bubble blowing, tree climbing, and relaxing in the back yard (Ryan's out for a bike ride tonight, and Heather's hubby was at a soccer game).

Re-reading this, I realize that I'm as busy as's just that I don't feel deadlines so much, I don't feel pressure to hurry up, and so many of these activities are for the pure joy of experiencing them with Tessa. These are lovely days, lovely moments, and I am savoring them.

A small moment today: Tessa, as is absolutely appropriate in the summer, was absolutely filthy by evening - her feet were black with dirt, her fingernails thick with dirt as well, smudges of (homemade raspberry orange) popsicle on her face, and a tangle of grass in her hair. It was definitely a bath night - at this rate EVERY night is bath night - and so we took her hair down from the loose bun it had been in, and she hopped into the tub. Down from it's elastic, her hair was full of loose waves, streaked with the colors of honey, straw, sand, and wheat, and I was struck in that moment by her incredible beauty - clear skin, wide, laughing eyes, long legs, and golden body from the sun (despite SPF 50!). It's a mother's pride, certainly, but I don't mean to boast, simply to say that I was struck by my daughter, and she took my breath away with her beauty. Often, I am too busy or it's too chaotic or I'm too preoccupied to really see her in this way, but today I felt that I could see her clearly, and I could enjoy what I was seeing rather than seeing the task list that is usually floating in my vision. (I know that every parent believes his/her child beautiful, and this is only natural and right. It's just that often I'm too busy wiping her face, correcting her manners, dealing with her protests as I brush her hair, or hurrying her up to enjoy her, and today I was able to enjoy her.) She had an impish smile as she jumped into the tub, and I had a wave of satisfaction wash over me that such simple things could be so beautiful and pleasureable. She was smiling and laughing as she took that gorgeous head of summer streaked hair and dunked it into the water over and over, and as she carelessly scrubbed the dirt from her feet, and something about it was absolutely perfect.

No doubt I will find myself struggling not to raise my voice again as soon as tomorrow begins ("Don't do that to the cat!" "Do NOT dump food on the floor!" "I told you several times already you may NOT have chocolate for breakfast, and that's final!" etc.) but I hope that I can carry the simple pleasures of the evening into the next day.

In almost every way, I'm trying to catch my breath. I'm trying to remind myself that I do not have to be go-go-going every minute of the day, and that I can lead a full, rich life even when sitting still. My diagnosis has made me oh-so-aware of my mortality, and I struggle to face that mortality and accept it, and part of that (for me) has included a need to cram as much into each day as humanly possible, so that if my time on earth must be short, then at least it will be full. I don't allow time to slip by without noticing it, because I KNOW that every minute is precious. When I waste my time, or use it poorly, I feel the loss in a way that I never did before. And, I have to say, it's exhausting. This living fully wears me out sometimes, even though it's what I want.

I do all the volunteer work and fundraising because I must; I must make my life meaningful; I must find a way to channel my cancer energy into something positive and worthwhile. Still, it's a hard way to live sometimes, being this hyper-aware all the time.

So, I'm trying to catch my breath. To slow down. To stay as long as we like in the butterfly enclosure at the zoo because we are having fun, and not rush to see every other exhibit. To make a simple meal rather than a more complex one, because then I can chat with Heather more than I spend time in the kitchen. To watch our children get covered in soapy bubbles and grass stains and not worry about it, just allow them to go a little crazy. To attend a survivor meeting and not worry about staying out too late, to not worry about keeping it deep and finding meaning, but just laughing with other women who "get it."

Next week we'll go to Orcas Island - some days just Tessa & I, with Ryan arriving on the weekend - and we will REALLY slow down. Nothing to do sounds pretty darn good. Reading books, going for runs, sipping coffee on the deck, soaking in the hot tub under the stars. I think I'll make pancakes one morning, too. Pancakes sound good to me today....decadent and slow, slightly impractical (unlike my Kashi Good Friends with nonfat milk and fruit that I have pretty uch EVERY morning for breakfast). Yes, I think that one day at the cabin I'll make pancakes, just because. We won't be in a rush, so why not?

Disjointed rambling, perhaps more than usual, but this is what I'm thinking of today. I hope that this evening finds you well, and that you're finding time to stargaze, to sip your coffee slowly, or to watch your daughter get good-and-dirty before bathtime.

I'm SO glad that it's summer!