Rolling With The Punches

Photo by avrene, via Flickr

Life is a well-oiled machine, dependent on every cog to keep chugging along. Have Michael in the van and ready to pull out the driveway when Julianna’s bus arrives at 7:50 a.m. Fasting blood work at 8, when the doors open. Drop Michael off at 8:20. Meet friend to work through flute duet-in-progress at 8:30. Breakfast packed for consumption following. Park butt at church for ninety minutes to work until Michael’s school dismisses. Pick up Michael. Replace heart monitor battery and run to the library on the way to Jazzercise. Home for lunch and nap.

A good, time-efficient plan, starting at one end of town and working my way to the other.

Until the bus failed to show up.

The busses are notoriously inconsistent around here, but when they changed Julianna’s route in November, it seemed I’d finally hit the jackpot, with two drivers who really could be counted on to be on time.

But by 7:58 a.m. my efficient, non-gas-and-time-wasting plan was in jeopardy, but I thought I could still manage to pull it off, just a few minutes late. I took Julianna to school myself. You’re not allowed to drop off until 8:05 a.m., when the teachers come outside to supervise the process.

Except the teachers didn’t come outside. At almost 8:10 I had to take her inside myself, because after all, this is Julianna we’re talking about…the sneaky wandering child.

By the time I got her where she was supposed to be and back to the car, I knew I didn’t have time for blood work anymore. I had ten minutes to get Michael to school, and another ten to get to my flute appointment.

And that’s when I realized: I’d forgotten my flute.

Now, everybody knows plans have to include a certain amount of flexibility. And parents know that you have to be ready to make complicated plan changes on the go. I remember when I was first reading blogs, I kept coming across stay-at-home moms defending their decision to let their careers go, saying they had to exercise more brain power as mothers than they ever had in the work force.

This, I think, is what they meant: spend an hour concocting a complete, workable plan that accomplishes everything. Then life happens and you throw it out and concoct a new one in ten seconds.

And it works. It’s not ideal, but it works.

Not so long ago, having my whole plan for the day upended would have put me in a foul mood. But something amazing is happening to me as I focus on the word “treasure” this year: things are sliding off my back a little more easily. Disruptions, work interruptions, late school starts that equal no school at all for Michael. I could choose to treasure the irritation of having my will thwarted, but that just leads to me griping and looking at the world through a fog of negativity.

I don’t know how long this will last. Is this a miraculous, permanent change to my outlook? Or is it just the first blush of a new resolution, soon to wear off—about the same time the gyms empty out again?

That remains to be seen. But permanence comes one day at a time, so for now I’m just going to focus on today.