A Pause for Feeling Overwhelmed

Some days it hits me. I have a moment when I can clearly see the vast array of my responsibilities to my kids, to Howard, to myself, to my communities, to the world at large and I can also clearly see my limited allotments of time and resources. There is no way that one can adequately cover the other. I simply can’t do everything. Every good thing I do comes at the cost of some other good thing that I could also be doing. Sometimes I can also see how very far my family has come while also seeing how much further there is to go. That moment is overwhelming, because I remember how hard it was to get from where we were to where we are. The thought of expending a similar quantity of effort again makes me want to sit down and give up for a while.

Even in “giving up for a while” I have no peace, no pause. My thoughts swirl around me whispering all the things I should be doing right this moment. How dare I rest when there are important tasks to be done. If I had not rested six months ago, a year ago, 3 years ago, perhaps I would not still have so much ahead of me. Therefore if I rest now, it is at the expense of some future goal not met.

My brain is a real jerk to me some days. Particularly on a day when I meet with my kid’s teachers and we can all clearly describe the problems my kid is having yet not one of us has a solution for any of it. And all of us are concerned about what will happen when he switches over to the high school campus next year. And the real solution is a transformation that has to take place in the kid’s brain where he decides that he wants something that education has to provide. He has to want connection with peers enough to speak to people. Right now what he wants most is to be left alone with comfortable things and to never have to do anything difficult.

Then, after I’ve paused long enough, the noise quiets down. That is when I remember that miracles do happen. What once seemed insurmountable becomes simple. Not quickly, but eventually. I remember the years when I wept over kids sleeping through the night. I used to have to sit in the hallway outside their rooms for hours waiting for them to fall asleep. Yet now I live in a world where the house gets quiet because they spontaneously put themselves to bed on time. I can’t tell you when the change happened, just that it did. This growth will also come. I just have to get up and do the next thing. I can’t do all the things, but I can do the next one.