It comes in the incessant complaining.
It comes in the short tempers flaring.
It comes in the harsh yelling at mistakes.
It comes in the children crying.
It comes in the knowledge that we are a mess and we cannot fix this mess.
It comes quietly and softly and slowly begins to crush.
Pressed with this feeling of wrong, of is it really necessary to yell like that and could you just try to understand the other side and these mistakes are ones I make, too, I try to search for the inhale moments, the moments to live fully right here, the moments to enjoy this mess we are all living in.
I catch a few of them.
Most, though, go flying by . . .
Because I make excuses.
I am good at making excuses.
“I'm too busy playing the guitar to see what the little ones are doing.”
“I'm not the parent, so I shouldn't have to drive this one all over the place.”
“I have to go somewhere and I don't want to smell like pool (and I don't want to swim in green water) so I'm not going swimming with you.”
As I said, I'm good at making excuses.
I am working on the to-do list I was given, sorting pictures into file folders, when the little one asks to go swimming, . . .
Asks me to blow up a toy.
It's big and it'll take a lot of air and I don't really want to . . .
I do anyway.
I capture this one inhale moment . . .
I lean over the inflatable orca, unplug, bite down on valve, and blow . . .
And blow . . .
And blow, . . .
All the while holding cheeks to keep from puffing out and stretching.
I blow . . .
And blow . .
And blow some more, . . .
Feeling burn and a little dizziness and really wanting to quit.
After several breaks . . .
And much, much more blowing . . .
The orca is fully inflated . . .
More or less.
Then comes the next question . . .
Will I come swim?
Of course, I have my excuse.
I don't want to swim in the green water.
I don't want to smell like swimming pool tonight.
So my "no" prompts a different question . . .
Will I come watch?
Strawberries sit on counter, waiting for me to eat them.
Blog hasn't yet been touched.
Outside is hot.
There are no chairs on the pool deck.
I don't really want to.
Then comes the inhale:
This is one who is precious to me,
This is one I love,
This is one I care about,
This is one I want to teach to capture the simple moments,
This is one I am trying to teach to give thanks,
This is one who loves me,
This is one who wants so badly to go swimming,
This is one who can't go without me right now, for fear of injury and death with no one to notice.
I don't really want to go out and be by the pool.
I do really want to be by this little one.
I say yes.
Little one struggles to fit orca through doors.
I remove socks and slip on flip-flops.
I grab a book and head out.
Already there, already waiting, the little one sees me.
I see her, too - goggles upside-down, earplugs sticking out of ears.
I ascend to pool deck and she takes the opportunity to jump in.
This one is so content in the water, diving for all the little sinking things, swimming like a fish.
Little one surfaces, speaks of success, only two diving things left to find.
I give thanks for the breezes, the being here with this little “mermaid”, the occasional splash of water hitting my legs.
I flip book pages, pausing to stop and listen to the little one's joys.
I didn't think it would feel this good.
I didn't think the breeze, the hot sun, the flipping pages could be so relaxing.
In fact, maybe they aren't.
Maybe it is the putting aside of the to-do lists, the sitting here with swimming one I love, the being here with swimming one I love that feels so good, so relaxing.
In coming out here, fighting the urge to stay inside, I found the inhale.
In sitting out here, making time with loved one more important than all my other activities that can wait, I find the exhale.
It feels good.
I read a church sign recently that said something along the lines of, “Children spell love 't-i-m-e'.”
I know this in my head.
In not practicing it, I forget it in my heart.
Here, in the blowing up of orca,
In the sitting by pool waters,
In the building of Duplo houses . . .
And zoos . . .
And “town halls”,
In the sculpting with Play-Doh,
In the teaching of melodies and bouncing mallets,
Here I build the relationships,
Strengthen the love-ties,
And, surprisingly, find the exhale.
When I inhale those unexpected moments,
Those questions asked,
Those little ones desperate for time,
And say yes,
In spite of excuses,
In spite of to-do lists,
In spite of simply not wanting to,
Inhaling the asking for love,
Exhaling the giving of love,
Exhaling love right back.
I am, quite simply, breathing love.
Yes, it is a struggle to inhale.
Yes, it is a fight to exhale.
Yes, I fail many times more than I succeed,
But this, this breathing of love, is so well worth it.
Why do I always miss this?
Why do I always forget?
Please remind me to inhale
And simply breathe this love.
Others come to make sure little one won't drown and I prepare to go in yet little one begs me to stay.
I think of the to-do list, the strawberries I'm supposed to eat, the needing to leave soon . . .
And say no, . . .
But . . .
Tomorrow I will have time.
Tomorrow I will give that time to you.
This pressure, this crushing, this ache is slowly lessening,
But there's one more piece to this puzzle . . .
In fact, probably more than one piece, probably many more pieces than I have yet discovered, . . .
But one more I know and I have felt and I am sure of.