The past two months have both raced and crawled by. I challenged myself this school year to only focus on the things I can control. Yet, we are only seven weeks in and I feel like a marionette dressed in a track suit. The starting gun fires and I run down the track as hard as I can only to have my strings dropped moments later by my external puppeteer. I lay in self-pity saturating my thoughts with how I could have and should have done better, done more. Moments later, my strings tighten and I am back onto the track only this time I am running the other direction. Some days, this cycle consumes me. It is a feeing I have been trying to fight and control for years.
This week my doctor, in her guidance to help me find relief from my daily tension headaches, reminded me the only things I can control are myself and my reaction. Such simple advice that is so hard for me to remember. Listening to the radio on my way home, Jeremy Camp’s “Keep Me in the Moment” served as yet another pause button on my frantic search for control. His line “I’ve been thinking ’bout time and where does it go” again reminded me to hold onto each moment. Even on those days when I am trying to run fast, I need to slow myself down and embrace the race, its hurdles, its spectators, and its finish line.
Nicolesearching (a podcaster, blogger, and advocate) recently shared an Instagram post discussing how often the things we “want” are often pushed back by the “buts” we tell ourselves. I want to be a more patient mom, a more supportive wife, a less selfish-sister and daughter, a kinder teacher BUT in order to be these things, I need to first be a better listener. Nicolesearching writes “these days are fleeting & the moments that make them up are precious….You have to be brave enough to listen to that timid voice.”
A few weeks ago, I was in one of my “dropped string” moods after what felt like a challenging week of work. I received a text from a friend notifying me one of our colleagues had passed away. I am ashamed for my previous frustrations when there are so many moments that matter more in life. All I could say was “she died” when Courtney asked me what was wrong. My reaction was an authentic, but oblivious to the fact Emma was sitting next to me, I then found myself trying to explain death to her in honest, but appropriate terms. It reminded me of standing in the funeral parlor with my nephews, Dawson and Brody, during Josh’s viewing. They brought a keepsake to put with him in his casket. It was such a heartfelt and innocent gesture of love. Emma knows death in these same innocent terms. As her mother, I want to protect her from ever feeling it any other way, yet, I know as she ages, terms will hold a different meaning than they do now.
Today, we celebrated the one year anniversary of “Emma Tyree” day. Her adoption day is a special day and well worth celebrating; yet, I know it will be a day that is different for Emma than it is for us. I hope it will always be a day we can share together; however, I also know it may become a day for her grieving the “what could have been” of her birth family. Similar to the loss of loved ones who have been in pain, even when the outcome means a release from pain, I can’t help but wonder what could have been. As a general rule, I try to not focus on the what could have beens. Still, I wonder what her life would have held if we had not been placed together. I wonder how many more students and teachers could have been influenced for the better from my colleagues guidance. I wonder what life would be like if our handsome man was able to become one. I wonder…I want…but, I am going to hold onto the moments we have together.
Last month I completed my third full marathon. Training for a race gives me lots of time to do nothing but run and think. Completing a race is both physically exhausting and mentally empowering.
Over the months of training and on race day I was humbled by the love and support I received. My parents sent me an encouraging text and a 5:28 AM selfie. They have always been my number one cheerleaders. My sister Emily came home and hung out with Emma for the race. Each time I saw them on the course, they gave me a little boost to get a few more miles (or steps) towards the finish line. My sister is my port in the storm.
Courtney ran the last two miles with me after Emma expressed her concern that she thought I was going to fall down (Courtney and I both shared this same concern). He kept me moving forward when I doubted my ability to keep going.
As each of my friends and I crossed the finish line, we knew our hours of training had been worth it, but in the end, for me, the hours and moments shared were just as impactful as the race.