Whenever my kids return from an extended period of time with their dad, a transition unfolds. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I forget, but when I do, I am abruptly reminded that there needs to be down time between one house and the next.
It’s a funny thing, really, since even in families where the parents are still together, there is often a disparity between the flow of time with Mom and the flow of time with Dad.
It’s glaring, though, when Mom and Dad reside in different houses and the kids shuttle back and forth. I know it’s unfair; we are the ones who made the family break apart, but it’s the little sweet ones who have to bear the burden of back-and-forth.
And so it makes perfect sense that they would need to unwind from being in one place before immersing in the next.
Last night at dinner, it was noticeable. Oval-shaped mouths yawning tired. Pouting at the end of the table by one. Wild, raucous behavior by another.
It’s all good. The back-and-forth dance is the way in which children of divorce navigate their worlds.
It made me wonder, of course, how often we transition between worlds and if we allow ourselves, as adults, to notice the bumps and bruises that come with such shuttling.
I, for one, drive from one client meeting to another. Then I sit in front of my computer and check tasks and activities off my to-do list. I answer email. I leave to pick up the kids at school, make them snacks, settle them into homework, and often I resume my work at that point.
And then my husband comes home, all kisses and smiles, how was your day, and it’s a different kind of attention. Make the dinner, serve it, clean up from it, make sure everyone’s bathed, stop answering emails at some point (at least we should, right?) and at a rather late hour, settle into bed, hoping to fall instantly to sleep when reality is more like tossing from side to side and watching one more rerun of The Big Bang Theory before sleep overtakes the spinning thoughts.
Life is full of transitions. And the fact of it is that change is the only constant, that old cliche – every day brings what we think will be an expected course of action when somehow a curve ball interrupts the flow and we have to spontaneously adjust to a new flow, a new vision of what this day will be like.
It can happen in moments, too. Being prepared for change as constant is the only way to weather it – because we can’t always take the down time we so need.
When I meditate, I find there is a natural embrace of the change that inevitably comes. When I don’t, the edges are sharper, harsher, more of a rude awakening.
The simple fact of meditation is a sitting-still some time each day. Some people do it morning and afternoon, some do it just once, but it’s a grounding that allows us to jump into the chaos and accept it as OK.
Saint Francis de Sales said, “Half an hour’s meditation each day is essential, except when you are busy. Then, a full hour is needed.”
What it comes down to is prioritizing time for yourself and time to reflect – putting that in front of all the other pressing needs and demands because you know they will always be pressing, always be there, continuing to prod you in their finger-poke sort of way.
And so as the sun sets behind my lovely window this late winter afternoon, I am reminded of the soft stillness that comes whether we anticipate it or not. The dawning of a quiet morning, the promise-kiss of a soothing night, the rise of light and the rise of dark so that we can cloak ourselves in the only reality.