As we all know, there are stretches of time when absolutely every possible thing goes wrong.
It feels like the universe has put an unrelenting curse on you, and the second you feel your head coming back to the surface, it’s a whole game of whack-a-mole, and you have no mole left to whack.
I don’t know how or why these pummeling series of mishaps have to pop up in such a concerted effort to break my sanity. But having weathered my fair share of these “NOW WHAT?” moments, I know only one thing for certain: Eventually, they subside. And while I know this, amid the seemingly never-ending blunders and disasters, it’s of little comfort.
Recently I resolved to do something that does not come easily to me. I decided to just roll. Not accept, not embrace, not trust that there’s some gargantuan lesson or great reprieve awaiting me with open arms on the horizon. Just roll.
There’s something about being a parent that turns you into a “fixer,” if you weren’t one already. Somehow we become the managers of absolutely everything. To a certain degree, we have to be. But then there’s a certain self-imposition of being responsible for more than what we’re responsible for, i.e., everyone else’s feelings/reactions, every calamity, our children’s behavior, the behavior of strangers. The list could go on forever. And that is a recipe for ultimate disaster because it’s just not feasible to prop that much up long-term. The fatigue, ensuing resentment, anger, and ultimately sense of being a victim are positively pointless, and worse, self-destructive.
The fact of the matter is that life is one giant obstacle course. Why some portions of it have to be so particularly grueling is a question that will never be answered. But I’m reminded of some advice I’ve randomly read about being in quicksand or a riptide. The worst thing you can do is to fight it.
Staying still and acknowledging that you’re in the thick of it is more effective than protestations, complaints, and futile attempts to repair things.
That’s not saying you do nothing about the barrage of unforeseen debacles. It’s more like resting when you’re sick. There’s no better cure than acknowledging the chaos and laying low until it passes.
Whenever my kids and I are in the thick of it, I hug them extra tight, tell them it will be just fine, and try desperately not to panic overtly. It’s the inside panic and resistance that’s the real problem. And since those feelings, however genuine, serve no purpose, why not just put the fires out as best you can, leave them be, and roll down the hill with the knowledge that eventually you’ll be back on your feet. Maybe not good as new, but no worse for the wear. In fact, maybe better for it.