Bedtime rituals bring out my inner grizzly bear. There are always impulsive exceptions to the rule introduced by the Fearless Foursome. Exceptions that just about tilt my boat enough to sink it entirely. Nothing ever goes exactly as per routine. I roar for the majority of this most miserable of nightly moments, and then I am silent. Because what good does it really do? To roar and rage. I am cranky, they are cranky; all are spent. The two oldest have a near brawl over a money-making scheme that both have laid claim to patent the idea. They want to open up a dog-walking venture here on the campground, and the business partners have been in start-up mode for all of one hour and are already at odds. One has gone to bed fuming, the other crying. Must it really be this wretched at bedtime or am I a glutton for punishment?
Prayers are forced tonight. No one is really in the mood.
This was not really my day, this moment I am in right now. I can adjust the gauge and turn back the dial. Earlier, things were actually peaceful. There was that moment. That moment at the park, that moment of tranquility. I go there. That moment when I was transported back in time.
I am ten years old. My feet pump beneath me as I stretch toward the tree line. I try to beat each rhythmic swing of the pendulum created by my body’s weight. Every time, I push my feet higher. From my vantage point, my feet clear the evergreens off in the distance. Ah! I am just a little girl, no holds barred, ponytail swinging in the wind. Every upward swing-return I make takes me back again to another place, another time. To sweet, sweet childhood. Simply free to enjoy all that life has to offer, its sweet, innocent goodness.
My girls and I play ‘Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown’ on the seesaw. I am the dead weight on one end, while my two daughters take turns tottering up and down. They laugh and giggle with joy. “Come down the slide with us,” they call, but I have already made enough of a spectacle of myself. Other campers more dignified, more refined than I, sit watching the crazy woman playing her heart out like a middle-schooler. They poke sticks in their metal grates from which burn red-hot coals bursting flames. They yawn with boredom and check their Facebook. They call out to their children to stay clear of the road. They look at me with detached amusement, for I am the anti-thesis of all this. I am woman-child.
Joy. Today, I follow my heart. My heart tells me this. Enjoy this moment. And this moment. And all the rest that follow. For they are fleeting. Forgive and forget. Life is short. Life is fragile. Live, love, laugh. Be all the clichés. Don’t, but even for a moment, regret a thing. Yesterday is what it is. Tonight might be a nightmare: stress-filled stomach-clencher of a nightly moment, when all are locked up tight inside twenty-four feet of wall-to-wall mattress-filled confusion. What do I care? I need not fret about that. And to be sure, tomorrow will take care of itself. Even if there is that rain shower they have been predicting. Bring it on. I am what I am right now, and that is all that matters. The present. The here and now. The moment.
I let things ‘hang out’ today. I never put a stitch of make-up on to cover up my imperfections. I normally cannot see the light of day without my cover-up. I hide behind my mask. And most days, I hide behind my clothing. And so. Today I did not. I spent the entire day in my two-piece bathing suit. I bared my arms and legs, those white extensions befitting of a stick figure. Or rather. Those pillars of strength that propel me to motion covered in varicose veins, bruises, marks, blemishes and a swath of deathly white skin. White skin, splotched with red patches, now that I have tried my hand at sunbathing the last day or two. But these are hard-earned battle scars. The result of birthing four babies. I wear the marks of motherhood proudly. Even if but for the day.
I did. I let it all ‘hang out’ today. I stood on the end of the diving board, looking down at my bathing suit, containing the slight protrusion of my belly in its bottom half with a good, solid piece of elastic; this two-piece wonder of a garment I am wearing has given me no promises to hold things together if I take the plunge. I vowed to myself that I would do the necessary checks before emerging in plain view of all those other onlookers. None of them, needing the shock of a lifetime. I stood. Inhaled. Exhaled. Had not a second thought. A slight jump, then I soared. Like a dove, in my mind’s eye. Probably more like a spread-eagle bullfrog, to all those looking on. No matter. It felt great. To let it all ‘hang out’. I’d do it all again right now, just for the thrill.
I talked to strangers at the dog park. I wanted to leave and carry on with my plans for the afternoon, we did have company coming for supper, but instead: I allowed myself the moments necessary to meet someone new, hear their story and learn a little more what it is to be human. It is so freeing. To let go of my plans, and embrace the freedom to be ‘in the moment’.
I put a full pot of coffee on tonight and only had one cup. Because it is better when you make the full pot. I dug out the s’mores, the licorice, the chocolate bars. We strung the patio lanterns. I read a book that will never increase my brain cells, even one iota. I had that extra chicken sandwich at supper, just because. The second tasted even better than the first. And tonight, I write for the pleasure of it. Because to write for me is to understand. And now I know.
I do this, and all that of which I write just because. These are for me moments of freedom. And I know that tomorrow will be that much easier because I let it all hang out today.