It’s so interesting… to me anyway…
We moved last year to a new town, more than 100 miles away from where we’d been living for more than 20 years. We had no friends, no landmarks, only each other and a new place to call home.
My husband had gotten a new teaching job, which prompted the move, and I closed up my yoga business with the hopes of building something new. While it was stressful and scary, we were curious and hopeful about recreating our work and our lives in this new, vibrant town. The best laid plans….
My husband’s new job became all-consuming, in ways we could never have predicted. And while he was enjoying some of the challenges the new job presented, it really kept him from being as fully present and a part of the new life we were hoping to create. As a result, I became full-time-dog-and-baby wrangler for that first year. Needless to say, I was anxious for the end of this first school year – I’d been dreaming about what life would be like once June arrived and Jon would be done with school: the extra pair of hands to help around the house; another person to share the dog walking and toddler play sessions; another adult to talk to and confer with; someone else who could be in charge so I could focus on my work. Oh this was going to be so great – I couldn’t wait!!
So…June 25th came…finally – Jon’s last day of school – yay!!! Freedom was just around the corner. And June 26th arrived – his first day home and he was ready to go – ready to take to Maddie to school, ready to take the dogs for a walk, ready to make dinner, ready to bring the car to be serviced. How great, right? You’d think I’d have been jumping for joy or dancing a jig. Instead, I felt myself clam up and get really tight. Suddenly the schedule I’d created for the past 9+ months and the world I’d lived in as a result of that schedule were being threatened and tampered with. I was in “high-alert protective mode.” I’ll walk the dogs, I’ll get Maddie to school, I’ll get the laundry going…(those are my jobs!!)
It was so interesting that that was my reaction. The minute my dream became reality, I wanted to shoot it down. I so wanted and needed to protect my schedule, my order, despite its rigidity. It’s the thing that gave me structure and security over those past many months. I created it, knew how to do it, and if I followed it to the “T”, I’d get everything done and keep everybody on schedule and keep everything afloat. It gave me purpose; it gave me identity; it defined me and my roles so clearly. With my husband around and able to help out, all of that got shaken up.
It was so interesting that his full-time presence and desire to help out around the house and with our daughter and the dogs was threatening to me in some way. And it was interesting to me, as well, how resistant I was to this shift and to accepting his help.
Somehow, I had to find a new rhythm that balanced Jon’s summer rhythm. I had to figure out a new schedule – one that took into account and honored his schedule and summer plans, as well as my own. I had to, in some ways, redefine myself and my roles.
But first, I had to simply observe all the thoughts, feelings, and reactions to each situation as they arose. As I observed, I noticed some of my reactions began to soften and become more accepting, while others were still filled with reluctance and gripping. Needless to say it was a rocky start to my dreamed-of summer. Over time, though, as I did watch my reactions, catching them as soon as I saw the rigidity arise, and trying to soften, we figured it out. We began to create a new dynamic between us and in the house – one where, in the simplest of terns, we shared all the responsibilities and clearly defined each person’s responsibilities at any given point. For me, clarifying our new roles helped alleviate my anxieties and fears and helped to lessen the bantering back and forth between us.
If any of this at all resonates with you, I offer you this practice:
• Notice the times you feel rigid about something.
• Notice your feelings and reactions.
• Ask: Why are you rigid or gripping or tight right now?
• What are you really clinging to?
• What would happen if you let go even a little?
• Could you see another way of doing things that would help you experience less of that “gripping” sensation?