Right now this family is composed of three train cars plus me and Macy Grey.
In the sleeper car is my husband – sick with what appears to be influenza A. He’s finally asleep after a night of chills, fever and misery.
In the coal car is my son – drained and depleted from a week of wrestling, back-to-back matches, college prep math, and a world geography test.
Riding in the passenger car is my daughter where it’s a bustle of fun and spirited activity. Working, going to college, and managing a rental house full of alpha-female roommates. She does so with grace and sunshine on her face. And she hides the stress just like I taught her.
Macy is sleeping with BD right now, but she’s been worried about him all morning. Forgoing breakfast because there’s something not right with daddy. And for anybody who knows our dog, they know that’s a big deal. Macy NEVER misses a meal.
Me? I’m the engine and caboose. Trying to keep this train going from both directions as the track veers left then right and down a mountain. Not any different than what you may be facing on your side of the tracks.
Engineering this family’s train means helping Dane understand linear pair postulates while begging him to eat something, ANYTHING before wrestling practice today. These days require a healthy dose of self-esteem, endurance and white-knuckling just to get through…and that’s just the parent part. I honestly don’t know how Dane is functioning right now.
So, I pick up my shovel and throw fuel onto the fire of unconditional love and encouragement. I send my energy into his spirit and imagine red, silk strands of positive reinforcement and high protein snacks flowing from my brain to his. I say prayers for him all day and mentally walk him through the countries in the Middle East just a few minutes before test time.
Tanna has started out her second semester as a college junior much the way she starts the others – excitement mixed with self-doubt and the feeling of being overwhelmed. For a girl who used to appear to be my exact opposite, I can see my hidden anxiety in her…minus the wrinkles.
Time for pom poms and the perfect cheer.
On her test days, I send vibes west down Interstate 70. The femur bone is connected to the funny bone – wait, how does that go? Don’t listen to me, Tanna. My last anatomy class was twenty-eight years ago.
I mentally remind her that she’s smart, that she’s got this, that I’m proud of her, and that I don’t know how she does it all. Then we SnapChat through the day and I hoard screen shots of her face so that her smiling eyes are just fingertips away.
As the day goes on, I’ll throw more coal in Dane’s car and open the shutters in Tanna’s to let in the light.
But, what about the sleeping giant in the last car? I wasn’t very kind to him yesterday and suddenly, I feel responsible for his under-the-weather, under-the-covers disposition.
It’s not my fault he caught the bug, but I’m sure that my negative energy – directed at him- didn’t help the situation.
So, as the caboose, I’m gently pushing, back-tracking and trying to unsay things that I said. As for our set of parents who read this – don’t worry about us! It’s all good. We learned our forever-married skills from you guys. Ain’t nothing that a little love, communication, chicken broth, and Tamiflu can’t fix.
In all of this, I feel oddly invigorated. Being the engine and caboose energizes me. Pulling them along while pushing from behind. Giving them my love, energy and spirit from both sides. Blasting them with viral waves of hope, encouragement and poking them with the reminder that they are THE most important people in my life. Focusing on others tends to remove the self-pity that can permeate the pores on a rough day and really put life into perspective. Mountain ahead? Ain’t no thang…
Programming note: thank you for indulging me in an ‘extra’ post this week. In the quest for balance, posting will continue to occur on 2-3 Mondays/month and most Fridays. It’s an honor to me that you ever read my stuff and I don’t take this gift lightly. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.