Friday, May 26, 2023

Lean into the Feelings

A lot is happening in our neck of the woods over the next few months. Three kids have birthdays (18, 18, and 22). Three kids graduate (college, high school squared). Family will visit from across the country. Parties and ceremonies and events will attend it all. And then the five of us will depart on a VERY BIG trip. 

I'm trying to lean into the abundance of it all, coaching myself to revel in each moment as it happens rather than feel like a steamroller is bearing down on me. My nature is, of course, to want to panic about all of the details that have not yet been resolved (hotel rooms, rental cars, house sitters, announcements, invitations, cleaning), and after 18 years of three kids' birthdays in May, my muscle memory of this time of year is wired to anxiety, even if big kids' birthdays aren't as big a deal as little ones'.

I read recently that it's not in human nature to be comfortable with feeling good. After millions of years of evolution preparing us to expect a saber-toothed tiger around every corner, we're wired to be suspicious when things are going well and we tend to short-circuit those good feelings with worry, deflection, and self-sabotage. I don't know if there's any scientific evidence of this theory's accuracy, but it makes sense. And I'm making a conscious effort to feel good about this moment in time: Our kids are nearly grown up! They've made it into/through college! We're finally getting a chance to travel after all these years! Hurrah!

I've also recently heard that it's important to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings as well. It's natural for anxiety to arise in the face of uncertainty---and until the twins settled on the colleges they are going to attend and until we pushed "purchase" on our plane tickets, we were swimming in a sea of uncertainty. There will continue to be uncertainty until each item over the next few months is checked off our lists---until the twins are settled into their dorms and M into his first post-college job---but I'm resisting the pull to hurry through it all and get to the other side, where the answers may be known, but it will all be over. This, here, now---in the sea of uncertainty and in the face of the steamroller of life changes is where life takes place. And I don't want to miss that, either the good feelings or the anxiety. 

A version of this post went out recently to subscribers of my newsletter, along with some bonus material. Subscribe here and receive a free PDF of my illustrated short essay "Eleven Ways to Raise a Wild Child."

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