after a particularly grueling week of stress, unexpected surprises and shifting priorities, i ran into a friend in the hallway.
we half-smiled at each other. "how are you?"
it was really a rhetorical question as i could tell from her body language that her week was pretty much the same as mine. "oh you know...fine."
after we exchanged obligatory pleasantries, it was time to cut to the chase. like an episode of west wing, there we were, walking and talking in rapid fire succession. there was frustration about this. uncertainty about that. and a general sense of anxiety about our respective situations.
more often than not, with venting comes relief. whatever you're struggling with, simply talking about it, getting if off your chest, helps ease the burden...and of course sometimes, it only makes it worse.
on this particular day, it was the latter. i was tapped out. fried. crusty. and to top it off, i had to race like a bat out of hell to get to a parent teacher conference for which i was late. in the middle of rush hour.
when i got to the school, i was a mess. trenchcoat belt dragging on the floor. hair disheveled. heels clicking frantically on the shiny polished floors as i ran down to the hallway to the classroom.
the door flung open. "sorry i'm late!" my voice was breathy from the 40-yard stiletto sprint. "it's been a crazy day."
warm smiling faces looked back at me from the little table where they were seated. a stack of report cards lay on one corner and a box of kleenex sat right smack dab in the center of the table. i took a seat in one of the small red chairs.
"so what can we say about your son. not sure if you saw his report card."
i did. pretty much all 1s from top to bottom. over the years, we've been incredibly fortunate to have a kid who loves learning and soaks up new concepts and experiences like a sponge. we'd grown accustomed to glowing reports. i presumed this would be no different.
i was right...sort of.
they ran through the usual list of aptitudes: math, science, spelling check. he was doing great in all.
"well isn't there anything we should watch out for or be aware of?"
the teachers looked at each other. and then turned to me.
"mrs. jones, no. you guys should be proud of yourselves. not only does your son love school, he's just a nice guy. he is kind, has empathy, he helps friends out if they're struggling, without being condescending. we can put him in any group and he interacts seamlessly. he could earn an allowance with how much he helps tidy up the classroom...i guess if we had to say anything, he does sometimes need to be reminded to keep quiet during independent activities--but that's only because he LOVES to chat and tell stories. he is a special kid."
as i listened, i could feel the pools welling up in my eyes. if you know me at all, you know that it doesn't take much...but this was an epiphany. all of a sudden, on my long list of goals and priorities, one thing rose straight up to the top. have i raised my child to be a good person? have i equipped him with the skills to succeed in life, to have a positive outlook, to hopefully share his talents and brightness (both intellect and heart) with others? for this moment in time, the answer was yes. on this goal, i had earned an EE: exceeds expectations.
they pushed the kleenex box toward me. "now these are the kind of tears we like!"
sitting in the mini-chairs, surrounded by the word wall and artwork and maps and books, i learned an invaluable lesson...and all the other angst from earlier in the day dissipated.
we all have bad days, weeks, even months. when it feels like the shit is rolling downhill, building momentum, hurdling forward with no ability to stop it. but eventually it hits bedrock. reaches solid ground. it may wear on the foundation, but it can't move it. it can't move you.
i was reminded that my family is my foundation. the core. what matters most. they are my touchstones. nothing in life is more true. pure. or restorative.