Friday, April 2, 2010

A Very Good Friday

I used to make lists before I traveled.  What I would wear each day, accessories and shoes for every outfit, a separate list of toiletries, and maybe another one of reading and writing materials.  I'd pack by the list before leaving, and pull it out again to make sure I had everything I'd brought with me before returning home.  I love lists, and have been known to write things like: get up on my to-do list, just so I could check it off right away.  Making lists is also a way to feel some semblance of control.  Travel is notoriously difficult to control, full of surprises and apt to disrupt the most smoothly laid plans.  Controlling small things is perhaps my way of maintaining calm in the midst of chaos.  Now my lists include things like car friendly toddler snacks, infant tylenol, and an abundant supply of diaper wipes.  Listing outfits for a variety of occasions with matching shoes and accessories seems like a silly bit of nostalgia; just thinking about those lists makes me feel young.

But parenthood, I think, is better when I embrace the chaos, rather than constantly struggling to keep it at bay.  I'm always trying to walk the thin line between planning, organizing, listmaking, controlling, creating the environment I want for my boy, and letting go to leap into the unknown and follow him where he wanders, honoring the spark of divinity alight in his little soul, standing back and allowing it to grow even (or especially) when it's messy.

Last night I was dreading the trip we're taking for Easter weekend.  It was looming before me, a list from hell: loads of laundry, boxes of spring and summer clothes to find and organize so we could pack for the sudden hot spell that's forcasted for the weekend, a naptime to coordinate with driving time, a doctor's appointment in the morning for my husband who's hoping to alleviate the sinus headaches he's been suffering from for weeks now, a trip to the park that seemed increasingly unlikely, and a growing bitterness at all the tasks that would be required of me before we could leave for our trip.

I woke up early this morning and put on a pot of coffee.  When it was ready I asked my husband to sit outside with me on the deck while our son played in the yard and we sipped coffee.  I watched the morning sun beginning to glow brighter in the sky, felt the air warming around us, and made a decision that is almost always the right one:  I decided to chill.  When my husband left for the doctor's office, I packed my son in his stroller and we went to the park, putting last things first, not thinking or worrying about laundry, organizing, packing, or coordinating schedules.  We spent the morning climbing and sliding and swinging and playing with a puppy who came to visit the park with her owner.  I brought a yoga book I've been meaning to peruse and a small notebook to write down ideas to include in a new class format I'm trying out on Monday.  We spent a couple hours together enjoying the early April sunshine.

When we got home I pulled out a basket of summery clothes my sister gave me that I haven't taken the time to try on and put away yet.  I plucked out a shirt for today, and a dress for Sunday.  I scurried up to the storage area behind the attic wall where all the off season clothes are stored.  Rather than unpacking and organizing everything, I simply poked through until I saw things I thought would work for this weekend.  Then I spotted a large, brightly colored purse that I got as a birthday gift some years ago, and haven't used much since.  It looked perfect for Easter.  I did the same thing for my son, leafing through clothes with no plan in mind, grabbing whatever looked good, and then tossed it all in a couple of bags.  I did no laundry; we didn't coordinate the drive with naptime; spring and summer clothes are exactly where they were before, only messier.  But we made it to the park, and we played in the sunshine, and I saw the joy in my boy's eyes while he watched a giant puppy run and jump in the grass.  And you know what else?  Packing without a list?  Tossing accessories and shoes haphazard into brightly colored bags with barely a thought to organizing?  Preparing for travel with nary a list?  It made me feel young.

And a very Good Friday it was.

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