Last term I turned into a nervous mess every morning as the time to get our son out of the door and off to the car approached. If we weren’t sitting down for breakfast at 7.30 I was already tense, and by the time we got to the garage at 8am to start the 35 minute journey to school, there were days that I could hardly speak for the nervous tension that was coursing through my veins. All I could think was, “we are going to be late, we are going to be late.” And my son got the brunt of it.
“Hurry UP! … Get IN the car! … SIT in your seat NOW!” And for the first 20 minutes of the journey I’d be seething, crazed by the traffic, unable to speak, a nervous wreck trying to calm down again. Usually by the time we got half-way through the trip I’d be centered enough to tell him a story, which seemed to bring both of us back down to earth, and we’d arrive at school more or less OK and, of course, always with time to spare.
While this was going on every morning, I was extremely aware of what was happening to me, but I didn’t seem to be able to control it at all. The nervous tension rose like an unstoppable wave, and flooded over me again and again.
Thinking about it, I knew where this reaction to the morning process came from. My mum had to get four kids fed, dressed, and out of the door every morning, for a similar length car journey. I remember the last 20 minutes up to our departure as a non-stop fight for mum as she cajoled, threatened, begged and dragged us into our school clothes and off to the car, by which time she was usually in a state of near-tearful desperation.
I’m pretty sure that the echoes of those difficult school mornings are what trigger off my nervous tension now, me in the role of my mum, living out the same story once again, 30 years down the line.
Until today. Once again this morning, even though we’d sat down to breakfast (my job) with plenty of time, departure time loomed and teeth were still not brushed, face not washed (mum’s jobs – and there’s no way he is getting out of the door without Marina washing his face!) I was waiting at the door as they finished off these final tasks, with my shoes and coat on, keys in hand, really ready to go…
And I felt my blood starting slowly to boil. I felt the tension rising in my veins. And I thought, “Here we go again! But NO, NOT this time! I’ve had enough! Today I surrender. I don’t care what time we get to school, let life take its course – I abandon myself to fate!”
And I just relaxed, and watched, and waited, and soon the final mother and son preparations were done, and he was ready to go. And in the car I only lost my composure for half a minute as I was trying to get him to sit in his seat, but we left the garage in a state of tranquility, and sang happily much of the way to school, arriving, as always, on time.
So here’s to surrender, to abandon, and to working out why we are how we are. To identifying patterns from the past and doing what is necessary to change them. Knowing myself, I’m finding, is the key to happiness and peace not just for me, but for everyone else as well.