Yesterday was a messy day.
Work had more than enough to keep me busy in my basement office.
My nanny ended up calling in, for a legitimate reason, but nonetheless, I had to wear the mom and career hat simultaneously.
In the middle of all of that, there was a pressing work-related need and technology decided to revolt.
Instead of riding the waves of setbacks and chaos with grace and a wonderful can-do spirit, I let myself feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
My frustration and inability to be fully present must have been contagious – because my kids were not their best selves.
We were messy yesterday – I was messy yesterday.
Time for a Reset
As lunchtime neared, my kids were incessantly bickering. I knew that we were all devolving at a rapid pace and it was time for a mom-intervention. I paused work and insisted we go for a walk through our neighborhood. They were so mad – hilariously mad actually. They waged their best mini-revolt but I stood firm in the need for fresh air. My mom-instincts knew it would be the anecdote to the virulent case of the grumps that was permeating our home.
Off we went, bad attitudes and all. Wouldn’t you know that the sunshine and movement was just what we all needed? Before our house was out of sight our demeanors changed and laughter joined us as we strolled. As we strolled, we found the most magnificent patch of blackberries! Now our laughter was joined by bittersweet tastes and juice-stained fingers.
I loved their exclamations of delight as they found another outcropping of berries and devised the best way to get the blackberries, while avoiding the thorns. I saw them initially working alone, gobbling up every berry they found. But, soon it shifted to a united approach. If one held the thorns back the other could snatch up berries – and then they shared their haul.
Wild berries also take me back with beautiful nostalgia to my days growing up. The magic of finding nature’s sweet treat in unexpected places still brings me delight. Even though the walk was for them, it served me so well, too.
We returned to our house better humans. Kind again. Ready to extend patience. Recharged for the day ahead. It was still a lot of work for me to juggle my job, motherhood, and the daily needs of life. However, I held it together much better than I would have absent of the fresh air and family time. I equipped myself to hang in there through a tough day, until my husband arrived home from work (the cavalry came!).
Bigger than the Blackberries
I love unpacking everyday moments to figure out how I can learn from them. In this instance I learned at the most pragmatic and salient level that movement and sunshine can be game changers. When you – or I – am stuck in a messy, grumpy, frustrated, or confused place, it can work wonders to get up, get going, and get fresh air. The change of scenery, natural beauty, and varied heart rate are transformational.
Beyond that, there is a lesson here in recognizing when we need to insist on a change, in order to promote health and wellness for all. Yesterday I got to the point where I knew we were in a messy and hard place and that we couldn’t continue forward the same way and expect different results. Our day was most certainly going to be a bad one – unless we took course correcting action.
I had to stand firm in this need for a change. My kids did their best to convince me the walk wasn’t necessary and they would self-correct the attitude and behavior issues. But I knew better. I knew we were in a rut and it was going to take a different approach to find a happier rhythm to our day.
In full transparency, I went to bed last night and when my head hit the pillow my first inclination was to berate myself for the impatient mother I was for much of the day. And then I remembered the blackberry bush. I am not all good and not all bad. Like the bush and those berries, there is often a bittersweetness to life that invites us to embrace our complexities. A reality in which we accept the thorns but choose to believe that there is a contrasting sweetness that naturally co-exists.
What About You?
Right now you may feel extra messy or perhaps stuck in a rut of discontent and frustration. Consider if you need to take a definitive step toward being unstuck. You may be able to go for a stroll and reset. Seek the taste of nostalgia. Allow oxygen to slowly enter your lungs and then enjoy the slow release.
If your messy season has been more longstanding or is highly complex you may need to involve the support of others, or make some lifestyle changes. See a doctor, find a counselor, or reach out to your inner circle for prayer and wisdom. I have zero shame as I openly discuss the mess that we were yesterday – it is my hope and prayer that you will feel zero shame as you unpack your own messes and consider next steps.
We are all messy. Each and every one of us. While my chosen paradigm is one that chooses to look past the thorns to celebrate the berry, there is also a need to acknowledge our challenges, hurts, frustrations and hang ups. Owning our humanity can be incredibly humbling but there is also a beautiful freedom in owning the reality that we do not have it all together. There is a blackberry bittersweetness to our humanity.