When I started The Optimists Journal, writing was just beginning to be a tool for me to cut through generational pain. Piecing together memories and examining my life so I could figure out how I got to the present day felt like gutting a fish, a memory from Huntington Lake as a child that I won’t ever forget. Turns out, I am not much of a fisherman, but I am a healer. A healer of myself, a helping hand in other people’s healing, and, most hopefully, a healer for my children in this garden of life that grows some pretty good weed patches that need to be cleared to be able to bring in the harvest.
Tonight, I rolled in from a long and beautifully connected day at yoga teacher training, I had one teenager I was trying to locate and another doing a back to school AP Chemistry packet with his friend, laughing and eating candy in my kitchen as they worked. I wrestled through a tough situation with Matthew, my 11 year old, that is breaking my heart, trying to help him find his voice, speak his opinion calmly, and still be ok no matter the outcome of the situation. As moms, we get so good at thinking on our feet, multiple topics and conversations shooting past us in every direction. In my best moments, I can create a 3-D picture out of the myriad of topics running through the house, make it all relate, and capture one or two lessons that we can all learn from…I live for moments like that. So much so, that I have been given the nickname this summer of Zen Mom and Mother of Wisdom (from kids who aren’t mine) and making my 16 year old roll his eyes and plead with his friends, don’t tell her that (all in good fun, he’s a kind heart for sure).
Tonight I was feeling that level of healing power after the Sound Bath at Soho Yoga…yes, LA is a place where I have learned strange new things, adding to the Zen Mom nickname and causing my 13 year old to compare me to the grandma in Moana. Everything was connecting, even in the chaos of this Sunday evening. When Matthew asked me to read him a story before bed after ten o' clock, nothing sounded better. My older three are readers, so I have always kept trying with him, even though he has yet to take to reading as a legitimate pastime. We have a stack of books that have been our favorites since he was 5, with very little evolution of the list…one of the hallmarks of the sometimes maddening, sometimes comforting, life on the spectrum. Tonight it was the later because I still got to cuddle and read children’s books for just a little longer (cue the song by Lonestar, "Let Them Be Little" that gave me a good cry before I went to bed). There are many challenges raising Matthew, emotional regulation, social skills and making friends, anxiety, teaching optimism, (which doesn't seem to be his usual mindset choice) to name just a few, but there is a beauty in his simplicity and love for routine that we connect on, and reading the same stack of books is part of that process. He pulled Olivia out of his pile, and as we read the story that he could easily read, if not recite on his own, I realized what he needed from me in those moments. Routine, closeness and laughter…he hasn’t graduated to Harry Potter or even Wonder, among the favorites that I used to read to his sister. But tonight I found myself full of gratitude that I still get to lie in bed and read Olivia, all cuddled up and laughing together about her “moving the cat” to a kid who, based on his age and some of the thoughts in his head that loom so large and serious, should be far past this simple children’s story. Some of the richest things in life can be captured in the simplest moments and as I finished the story, I realized again that the universe had aligned, picking the right book on the right night.
”You know, you really wear me out, But I love you anyway.” - Olivia by Ian Falconer
As I close my computer after midnight because I have to get these moments down, I couldn’t be more grateful for the simple things that have the ability to cut through some of the pain that life creates…routine, closeness and laughter. I hope you find some of these in your day today.