One of the many things I’m working on in my life right now is accepting what is, instead of agonizing, worrying and stressing about why it isn’t something else or how to get it to be something else. There are certainly times to work on changing things, but before I can act towards something I want, I need to truly understand and accept where I currently AM, regardless of whether or not I like it.
This past week has been a huge lesson. Our friends took their vacation time and their money and flew over to spend a week with us here in Vienna. During that week, they were treated to watching us all be sick, getting sick themselves, and spending way more time than we had intended being cooped up in the house with very little to do. My first reaction, when I think of all of this, is to feel terrible — guilty and embarassed that we weren’t able to show our friends a better time.
But really, that makes no sense. The fact that we got sick? Not surprising. Benjamin is 3 and goes to school. Last week, he had a stomach bug. This week, Liam, Dan & I got it, followed by Pam. It’s unfortunate, it’s poor timing, it’s frustrating and disappointing. But why feel guilty? Of course I wish we had had a better time. I wish we’d all felt great, they hadn’t experienced any jet lag, the kids had shared their toys perfectly, the sun shone the entire time, there was no rain, the meals were all perfect. That would have been great. But that isn’t what happened. That’s life, that’s how it is.
In reality, we did pretty well. Even though we were sick, we still got out to see a few sights. Even though the kids were sick, and cooped up in the house, they played together pretty well. Even though it rained, it was warmer than it had been in months. The point was for all of us to be togethter, after all.
The other night, I got yet another great reminder. We were going to go out and get pizza — we’d been talking about it all day. After the kids got up from their naps (late, because they laid down late and actually slept for a while) Benjamin wasn’t feeling well. He was pretty sick, actually. But he was going to put on a brave face and go out to get pizza, because he didn’t want to miss out on it . . . AND I was going to let him. Um, what? My poor sick baby was going to suffer through a long walk to the pizza place, even though he was miserable, and sit through a meal he probably wouldn’t have enjoyed, so that he didn’t miss out on . . . pizza? (Really, I think, he didn’t want to miss out on going out to dinner with everyone, but still.) Of course he’s going to make that choice. He’s 3. I’m not. I induldged the idea for about 2 minutes before I realized what I was doing. The fact was, he WAS sick. It’s too bad, but that’s life. There’s no point trying to pretend he’s not, or trying to act as though he’s ok, just to make the pizza trip happen. If my boy is sick, I take care of him, and pizza happens or doesn’t happen or whatever. (As it turned out, Pam, Joshua and Dan went and got pizza and brought it back for all of us — which wasn’t what we had planned, but it was great!)
I have a natural tendency to formulate a plan and try to stick to it. It’s a generally admirable trait, but I take it too far. When circumstances change, they have to be accounted for. And when things change and the plans get completely derailed, that’s nothing to stress about — especially because the plan was probably completely arbitrary in the first place.
Anyway, I’m working on accepting what IS, and working from there, rather than trying to rearrange the universe to fit with my idea about what ought to be. My boys are helping me — it is easier for me to see the right way to approach things when it comes to taking care of them than in just about any other circumstance. And I really do want to feel good and happy about the time we spent together with our friends this week, rather than feeling sorry that it didn’t go some other way. It went exactly as it did, and we managed to have a good time anyway. And one day, we’ll laugh about all of it — I know we will.